An integration process is an executable, cross-system process for processing messages. In an integration process you define all the process steps that are to be executed and the parameters relevant for controlling the process.
You implement integration processes when you want to define, control, and monitor complex integration processes that extend across enterprise and application boundaries. The design and processing of integration processes is also known as cross-component Business Process Management (cross-component BPM, ccBPM).
Business Process Management provides SAP Exchange Infrastructure with functions for stateful message processing: The status of an integration process is persisted on the Integration Server. This means that you can specify how long an integration process must wait for further messages to arrive, for example. Furthermore, this enables you to process messages within an integration process further still; for example, you can collect certain messages and then send them in a particular order.
Cross-component Business Process Management is integrated into SAP Exchange Infrastructure: Integration processes are objects in the Integration Repository or Integration Directory and are integrated with the other objects, for example, message interfaces and so on.
The Integration Builder provides a graphical process editor in the Integration Repository for defining an integration process at design time.
At configuration time, you configure the receiver determination for the integration process in the Integration Directory of the Integration Builder.
At runtime, the Business Process Engine executes the integration processes. The Business Process Engine is part of the Integration Server. You monitor the execution of integration processes by using the monitoring functions of the Integration Engine.
The following graphic shows how Business Process Management is integrated into SAP Exchange Infrastructure.
Cross-component Business Process Management is integrated with the business workflow (WebFlow Engine). An integration process can send messages to a workflow and, conversely, messages from a workflow can be processed in an integration process.
When defining integration processes, you can use correlations to establish semantic relationships between messages. For example, you could correlate a purchase order and the corresponding invoice by means of the purchase order number. The Business Process Engine takes any semantic relationships into account when controlling an integration process.
You can transform messages on the basis of semantic relationships between the messages. You can also collect messages that belong together and bundle them into one message. For example, you could put all purchase order items into one purchase order. Inversely, you can also divide up a message into multiple messages, for example, you could divide a purchase order into the various purchase order items. You can then send the messages that you have created to different receivers.
Besides the send, receive, and transformation steps, you also have numerous ways of influencing the control flow of a process. For example, you can define loops, forks, deadlines, and exception handlers. You can also create complex processes. You can define an integration process as a sender or receiver of a message, just like a business system. An integration process can trigger another integration process to start by means of a corresponding message. In this way, you can link integration processes to form a process chain.
The Business Process Engine only communicates with applications that are located on back-end systems by means of messages. The Business Process Engine cannot access processes within applications, nor can it access user or organizational management functions on back-end systems. Note the following here:
· The Business Process Engine does not control any processes within applications. However, you can integrate applications into cross-component processes by using messages.
· The Business Process Engine does not control any form of user interaction. You can only control user interaction in the relevant back-end systems, for example by starting a workflow using the Business Workflow.
· Business Process Management does not provide cross-component monitoring for any business documents that are processed as part of an integration process. However, you can display the log of an integration process and the corresponding messages in technical monitoring.
For an example of an integration process, in the Integration Repository, choose SAP BASIS → SAP BASIS 6.40 in the namespace http://sap.com/xi/XI/Demo/Agency under MultipleFlightBookingCoordination (see also: Example: Integration Process for Connecting Flight Bookings).