KU Leuven goes all-in with state-of-the-art integration
KU Leuven – one of the oldest universities in the world – needs no introduction. But what you may not know, is that the organization runs about 40 SAP systems to support their 13,000 employees and over 50,000 students. That’s a lot of integrations. Determined to become futureproof, the university decided to migrate its integration landscape to the SAP Integration Suite. And they did so in exemplary fashion, resulting in a-state-of-the-art integration landscape.
Is your company using SAP PO (Process Orchestration)? Then you might know that SAP provides mainstream maintenance until the end of 2027 for the core applications of SAP Business Suite 7. Plenty of time to think about what’s next? Maybe so, but at KU Leuven they rightfully believe that it’s better to start migrating now.
Why KU Leuven decided to migrate migrated to SAP Integration Suite sooner rather than later
“There was a time where you just needed one huge backend for all your IT requirements”, says Jan Verreydt, Product Owner at KU Leuven. “With the rise of SaaS and PaaS tools, however, today’s landscape looks very different. We live in an API economy. You need a system that can flexibly produce those APIs/interfaces.”
“We want real-time updates. Every business action should immediately be sent to the SaaS and Paas apps. This requires the right architecture. If we’d implemented the apps in our current SAP PO set-up, we’d have to migrate them later anyway. And the longer we waited, the bigger the migration effort would be. That’s why we were convinced we needed to act right away.”
We live in an API economy. You need a system that can flexibly produce APIs and support real-time updates.
Futureproof architecture with SAP Integration Suite
And ‘acting right away’ meant migrating to the new SAP Integration Suite, the new name for SAP CPI (Cloud Integration Platform). “This is not your average integration hub”, says Philip Ursi, Integration Architect at Flexso. “SAP Integration Suite is an entire enterprise integration platform. You don’t need any third-party integration software, all your integrations are handled in one single platform. This makes all the processes futureproof.”
KU Leuven hosts a variety of SAP modules, from finance and HR, to logistics and Student Lifecycle Management. “In total we run about 40 SAP systems on premise”, Jan explains. “We were using SAP PO for internal and external interfaces. The biggest downside of PO on prem is that it doesn’t evolve anymore, whereas SAP Integration Suite offers plenty of innovations.”
With SAP Integration Suite, all your integrations are handled in one platform that will make all your processes futureproof.
3 lessons learned from the migration
1. ‘Clean out the attic’
KU Leuven wanted the new integration platform to be fully future-proof. The migration was not just about transferring existing interfaces, but also about improving and cleaning up the entire integration landscape. “Cleaning out the attic”, as Jan calls it.
➡︎ TIP 1: Resist the temptation to just migrate the existing interface. Take a closer look at what is needed. Full loads, where you transfer all data from system to system instead of just the updates, for instance, should become a thing of the past.
2. Adopt a new way of working
KU Leuven had to adopt new standards and ways of working to fully utilize the integration suite as a futureproof platform. One example: monitoring the interfaces to make sure nothing goes wrong is now done with entirely new tools.
➡︎ TIP 2: This is not just about introducing a new integration platform. Embrace the change head-first: dare to introduce new processes and explore new tools.
3. Ask for expert help
The maturity of some tools used in the migration was a challenge. KU Leuven was a pioneer in this migration project and had to take the risks that came with it. The migration tool from SAP itself, for example, was mainly useful to migrate a large amount of simple interfaces.
➡︎ TIP 3: Make sure to use the right migration tools, ask your implementation partner for help.
The results: a futureproof integration platform
KU Leuven now has access to new possibilities, such as API management for secure exposure of data. “This is a core component of SAP Integration Suite”, says Jan. “We plan to open up API’s to students, for example.” With our old set-up, we had no control over the volume and security of the data transfer. With SAP Integration Suite, however, we have complete control in ensuring students handle the API securely.”
To avoid full loads – as mentioned earlier – event mesh now supports event-driven interfaces that are much more performant. The integration landscape was cleaned up, making it more efficient and improving performance. The implementation speed was faster with the cloud-based integration suite than the on-premise SAP PO solution. Security was also built into the SAP Integration Suite by default. Finally, collaboration between in-house developers and consultants became much easier.
Ready for the future
“The battle-tested methodologies of Flexso were a huge success factor in this project”, Jan adds. “Their migration approach with templates and guidelines ensured a smooth procedure, while taking our strategic objectives into account and creating the right architecture. Thanks to this support, we now have a fully futureproof integration platform in place to handle any new and future APIs and integrations that come our way.”