I recently had to record a short video to cover all the benefits of our ArchiveLink connector for Google Cloud Storage (part of Google Cloud Platform), and, whilst preparing this video, I asked myself an obvious question: should I explain what SAP ArchiveLink is? And the truth is that, even though ArchiveLink has been with us for many years, since it is not a SAP module as such, it is still quite unknown by many.
Simply put, SAP ArchiveLink is an HTTP-based communication protocol for managing “attachments” in SAP.
You may think: for this we already have the “Create annex” button in the GOS – and, whilst that is true, it is very basic, as most of the time the file is stored in a data base (which is not recommended for large volumes of files), and, it does not allow us to do many other things. If you want to use ArchiveLink, you can select the “Archive Business Document” in the GOS.
Outstanding ArchiveLink features:
- HTTP o HTTPS: as secure as you want it or need it.
- External storage: the files are stored in a repository, external to the SAP database, and often on independent servers, or even in the cloud. This facilitates its management, content indexing for later search backups, etc.
- SAP is the one that stores the “ID” of the document and knows where it has been saved and how to retrieve it. This facilitates migrations, integrations between different SAP modules, etc.
- It is so simple that a file is identified by 2 fields:
- Repository ID (2 characters)
- Unique ID document
- The “extended” functionality can be activated, it also stores the name of the original file.
- The same “ID” can be associated to several SAP objects. That is, we store a file only once, but SAP can show it to us in a purchase order, in the logistics invoice, or even in a financial document.
- As it is HTTP (which means that it will be opened through a URL), it facilitates its integration with other external tools that can call these URLs to archive or download documents.
After having seen what it gives us, the next thing we must be clear about is that it is just a protocol, and as such, there are different file software that can implement it, making them compatible with SAP. To list a few:
- The first and most obvious, which is also easy to license: SAP Content Server
- The one that collaborated designing this protocol, and the one of the most complete and secure archives: OpenText Archive Center (the protocol was developed between SAP and Ixos, and the latter was acquired by OpenText).
- Also, from OpenText, Documentum has an ArchiveLink connector.
- IBM also has connectors for several of its products.
With any of these options, which are the ones that have traditionally existed, the product would have to be installed on a server (or several), and the files would be stored on the disk or external medium configured in said tools. This is how it would be:
Now, with the cloud storage cost, there will be those who would prefer to archive all these documents directly in solutions such as Google Cloud Platform, and that is where our connector comes in, which makes Google Cloud Storage “compatible” with the SAP ArchiveLink protocol: no need of external servers or worrying about storage, version uploads, backups, etc.
And just to end this post, see below some examples where we can (and in many cases must) use SAP ArchiveLink to archive documents:
- For invoices received in OpenText VIM (this one was easy)
- For everything we want to attach to any SAP transaction: purchase or sale orders, materials, invoices issued and received, supplier and customer masters, etc.
- For documents generated in SAP. A common example here are sales invoices, which can be configured so that the PDF that is being sent to the customer is archived via ArchiveLink as standard.