Integration – What is a Whitelisted API?
Welcome to the fifth blog in our series covering the 10 most important things you should know before implementing S/4HANA Cloud Essentials Edition. In this series you will learn about important practical considerations which should be evaluated prior to purchasing or implementing S/4HANA Cloud. If you have not read our first 4 blogs in the series you can find them here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.
Also included in our first blog is a description of S/4HANA Cloud Essential Edition and an explanation of the different terms used to describe the S/4 HANA Cloud Multi-Tenant edition. For those of you that do not want to go back to the first blog, I will briefly summarize here. S/4 HANA Cloud Essential Edition is a version of S/4HANA in which customers share both the database and the codebase of an S/4HANA instance. This puts severe restrictions on not only the ability to customize the system, but also the implementation methodology. This blog series will explain some of the more impactful restrictions.
The items in this blog series have been compiled through real work experience and interviews with customer, consultants, and end users of S/4HANA Cloud Essential Edition. If you plan on purchasing or implementing S/4HANA Cloud ES, this is what you need to know.
Item #1 – Say Goodbye To Your Traditional 3 Tier Landscape
We wrote a whole article about the new 2 tier landscape and what you should about how it works. Read more about it here.
Item #2 – Country Scope Items: Don’t Assume Everything Is Available In All Countries
Are you implementing in multiple countries? There will be impacts to your project timeline and project scope. Find out more here.
Item #3 – Where’s My Data? How can I access the Universal Journal?
Don’t assume you can run reports from the Universal Journal and get any data you want. It’s a little more complicated. Click here for more.
Item #4 – Forget SPRO and the IMG. Configuration is done through the Manage My Solution App.
Tips about how to find the configuration you need and some things you may not have access to without creating an SAP Ticket. Read about it here.
Item #5 – Integration – What is a Whitelisted API?
So you want to build a business process integration between S4HC and another system. This could be a legacy SAP ECC system or a non-SAP system. SAP provides a lot of documentation for their hundreds of standard APIs. One might be forgiven for assuming if you find a standard API for “Sales Order”, for example, and you want to build a Sales Order integration, that everything will be fine. In the case of S4HC, you will need to be very careful to validate every single data point in this API to be sure everything you need will be there.
While this step has always been best practice, with S4HC it becomes an even more critical step. When discussing this topic with experienced implementation consultants, SAP Standard APIs for standard objects are very often incomplete. In some cases there may be available fields missing. In other cases there could be entire sections of data or entire screens of data, if we think about it as you would see it in the GUI, missing.
Also we need to consider what our options are if we cannot find an existing, valid API. In SAP ECC we could build a custom BAPI or functional module, use a BDC (if the interface is inbound), or build a custom extract (if the interface is outbound). In S4HC our options are significantly more restricted. Refer to our previous blog about getting data out of S4HC for an explanation of how difficult this can be.
How to look for Whitelisted APIs
SAP Provides all the information and documentation regarding APIs that you will need at the API Hub (https://api.sap.com). You will need an S-user to login. Once logged into the API Hub, select the S/4 HANA Cloud tile.
From this page, you can search for your business object, “Sales Order”, for example. You may find several options. Download the API Specifications for each of the likely options for review. The API specification will be downloaded in a WSDL format. If you do not know how to work with these types of files, you may be better off viewing the Business Documentation for these APIs which should also be linked within the same object in the SAP API Hub.
Compare these documents to your business requirements to determine if all of your required fields are available in this API. If not, continue reading for what options you may have.
What to do if you can’t find an API?
So, you have looked through the SAP API Hub, and there is no available API that seems to match your requirements. Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon situation. The first thing you should do is open an OSS Ticket with SAP. This will accomplish several things. First, and most obvious, it’s possible you are mistaken and SAP will recommend an API that could suit your needs.
But, the second thing this accomplishes, is letting SAP know of your need in this area. Earlier in this blog we used the term “Whitelisted APIs”. All the APIs you see in the SAP API Hub are Whitelisted APIs. This means that SAP has certified and released these APIs. There may also be additional APIs that are either in pre-release status, or possibly related to legacy IDOC formats which are not whitelisted. These are sometimes referred to as “Bluelisted APIs”. It’s possible that one of these may suit your needs. Discuss this with your implementation partner and SAP to be certain you don’t end up using an API that may eventually be deprecated causing your integration to fail in the future.
The last reason to create the OSS Ticket is that SAP may respond with an expected release date for an API or an update to the existing APIs that will satisfy your requirements. This can then be built into your project plan and/or release schedule.
As you can see, the impact of finding out the expected API does not satisfy your requirements is huge. Be sure to follow the Activate methodology. Do not skip these simple steps in the process. Be sure to validate your APIs all the way down to the individual field level before assuming they can be used.
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