Let me introduce my guests
My today’s interlocutors are Pontus Borgstrom an SAP Lead Integration Architect, Michał Krawczyk SAP Mentor/Int4’s board member and Korneliusz Kordus Int4’s Managing Director who are co authors of “Testing SAP APIs: Strategy and Execution“.
In my previous interview “Silence. No phones, no mails, no music.”, Michał Rohnka pointed to “Testing SAP APIs: Strategy and Execution” as his favorite SAP Press Book. I wouldn’t be myself if I did not reach out to the source to check what is hidden behind Michał Rohnka’s top piece of writing. About the main benefits of testing SAP API, the difference between automatic CPI and PI integration – Pontus Borgstrom, Michał Krawczyk and Korneliusz Kordus are interviewed by Jarosław JZ Ziółkowski.
Reading time: 6 minutes
1. Pontus, Michał and Kornel, the three of you are authors of “Testing SAP APIs: Strategy and Execution”. Some people say that Testing SAP APIs is one of the hottest topics these days; and I do not only mean Michał Rohnka from my previous “Silence. No phones, no mails, no music.” interview. So, why is API testing such a crucial matter?
Michał: Most modern companies rely very heavily on SAP Application Interfaces to support their core business processes. Let’s take Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) as an example. EDI is used to send and receive sales orders and without it the companies cannot buy nor sell their products. Would it make more sense to test it than somehow?
Pontus: Yes, I couldn’t agree more with Michał and would only add that today we are faced with a lot of different new demands as a part of the increased digitalization. This increases the complexity and the ability to have a stable landscape at the same time we make rapid changes in flows and connections. In order to maintain stability and also allow for faster deliveries in an DevOps world the testing is the core factor.
2. Reading the book, one can understand, for instance, what interface components to test and why such a move is important when it comes to testing in the broad sense. Is there one component that you can name that is most important from your perspective?
Pontus: To me, the most critical to test, is the component that is most critical for your business. From my perspective my main objective for testing is to ensure that the transformation/mapping executes as expected for the critical flows and from there it is possible to extend the scope into the backend system.
Michał: I would argue here a bit (laughter). To me, there are no components which are more important as both the transport layer and functional testing need to be done at the same time. The difficulty with SAP projects is when both of those layers are being split and not treated as a single software component which leads to many issues during later stages of the project.
3. So, who is this book addressed to? Have you written it for technical people, those responsible for business processes, or maybe for both groups I have mentioned?
Michał: There are a few groups who can benefit from it: Project managers can have a look at the Why and What chapters to understand why it is good to test SAP API and what can be tested. SAP Test teams can benefit from What and When and How Chapters where they can learn exactly in which phases it’s worth doing SAP API testing and how to do it. Developers can clearly benefit from the How chapter to find out exactly what the tools are and how to use them if they need to perform the SAP API testing.
Pontus: Indeed, the book is intended for both groups, but also valuable to managers up to C-level, since it deals with the overalls and then the examples for more deep dives.
4. Tell me, subjectively, in 3 sentences, what are the main benefits of testing SAP API?
Pontus: First would be more insight on the health of integrations. Second, faster development cycles. And third, less errors in the last part of the development cycle.
Michał: And I can do it in on – (laughter) – learn that SAP API testing is possible, fast and easy to set up in contrast to SAP UI testing.
5. Sound beneficial, I guess. One may say it is a simple question that I am going to ask you; however, out of curiosity (laughter), I need to ask it: Kornel, let’s start with you: What inspired you to start writing and share your expertise with the whole SAP community?
Kornel: From the business operations perspective, the most important driver is a practical application of the idea of SAP API testing. It’s relatively easy to talk about high level concepts or ideas. But at the end of the day, if you are acting as a Project Manager, CIO or you are somehow related to big IT initiatives, you would have to answer very basic, practical questions: Where do I start? How can I make sure that a given idea is going to be implemented? What could I have done better? How do others do that? If our book will help people to get their job done in a better way, then I will perceive it as a success. I like to think of the three of us as experts that can provide value to the community, and most of all that others can benefit from it.
Pontus: Me for instance, I am very active in the Swedish SAP Usergroup, SAPSA, and leading the Integration Focus Group. I have for a long time talked and shared knowledge within the integration area. One of those things was testing as a part of governance, development, etc. So when I was asked it was definitely already something I had been doing for quite some time :).
Michał: (laughter) … and I would only add that beside what Pontus and Kornel mentioned, I was inspired mostly by the lack of knowledge around the topic. SAP API testing is very often misunderstood by many project team members and very little people know how easy and quick it is to set it up. We wanted to change this perception.
6. Once your book was in the market; I assume that you have had a chance to talk to the readers about your book. I am wondering, what do they say? Which part of the book have they found most useful?
Pontus: It was the whole part of bringing it all together in an easy understandable way that I got the most comments about. There seemed to be a great interest in this area and this is the first book from an SAP perspective to bring it together.
Kornel: The feedback that I have received is that our readers find it extremely useful. The topics that we covered are not some academic discussions. They come out from our experience and seem to be more common than we initially thought. These are very practical aspects of our daily activities that most people working in that business must have faced sooner or later. I treat our book as a piece of discussion that can eventually get back to us and move the whole subject forward. I’m sure it will get back to us, that it may open new areas for further discussion and eventually we will benefit from it. Maybe this would lead us to a new version of the book or a sequel. Who knows…
7. Coming back to 1st November and celebration of the National Book Author’s Day, I am curious of what was your favorite part, and your least favorite part, of your publishing journey?
Pontus: Favorite thing always is when you get to share your passion and then do it with other passionate and skilled persons then its really fun. Well for the least favorite part it is the time it takes… so I don’t really care about new functions in an Apple Watch or Samsung Smartphone… I want the “thinkers hat”… Put it on and it transforms your thoughts into written text :).
Michał: Gathering the team is always my favorite part – this time I’ve managed to get Korneliusz Kordus a very experienced SAP Program Manager and Pontus Borgstrom who is a leading SAP integration architect in the Scandinavian countries leading the Swedish SAP User Group (SAPSA).
8. Okay, let’s segue to the technical topics. What platforms should be the focus for API testing in the coming quarters?
Kornel: Pontus, this question is yours (laughter).
Pontus: Well, SAP PI/PO will stay for another 10 years so there will still be a huge base. But the most accelerating part is on API Management and to be able to capture a call from API Management platform down via SAP CPI or PI to the backend. This is where the whole complexity grows.
9. At the beginning of our conversation, I asked you why API testing is so crucial. Let’s dive into the matter and explain why it turns the balance right now?
Pontus: I will take this one as well… (laughter). With an accelerating introduction of DevOps it helps to overcome the biggest hurdle… testing… Regardless of unit test, continuous testing or UAT, automated testing is the key.
10. Last but not least. What is the main difference between automatic CPI and PI integration? Are there any differences at all in this area?
Pontus: Well… PI is a fixed pipeline and that is that you send the message in and it always gives the expected output, regardless of scenario.
In CPI we have the sk. Flexible pipeline and then one ICO can be like a PI scenario and another can “bounce” around and depending on the logic and content present completely different end results. This means that in PI you can do bulk testing, but in SAP CPI that might not be possible in all scenarios.
Michał: well put, nothing to add :).