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Build Your Technical Architecture for SAP Marketing Cloud

Build Your Technical Architecture for SAP Marketing Cloud

Many organizations struggle with aligning their SAP Marketing Cloud solution with their business goals. 

This article introduces many recommended practices and strategies to build your SAP Marketing Cloud technical design. These recommendations and strategies will help you to overcome architectural challenges and aim for you to get the most from your SAP Marketing Cloud solution.

Table of Contents


Starting Point: Use Business Scenarios

As described in the article Master the Challenges of Digital Marketing, one key driver of success is the identification of business scenarios.

Business scenarios should be the starting point for every value-driven discussion. Ideally, all tools and organizational activities should map back to a scenario.

image one: business scenarios as starting point


Below, we will focus on the steps that occur once the journey and business scenarios are defined.

Draw an Overview Picture of the Planned Technical Architecture

The translation of business scenarios into a high-level technical architecture is the next logical step.

The purpose of a high-level architecture artifact is to understand all planned inbound and outbound integrations, which are planned to be set up.


Draw the overview picture in different states. For example, draw an overview picture for the current state and one for each future phase. This step ensures that the architecture supports planned future scenarios. It should list which systems are going to be connected, through which middleware and also which data is exchanged. This list should include master data (for example, contact, product) and transactional data (for example, sales order, subscription, e-mail opens) of all the planned integrations. Any associations and dependencies between the systems should be documented.

At this stage, you're not required to go down to data integration on field-level or to note down specifics, such as network or security aspects, data volume, or error and failure handling. All components that are not directly related to integrations (for example, SAP Cloud Platform Identity Authentication or SAP Analytics Cloud) are discussed in a later chapter.


We will demonstrate two examples; a typical example from a B2B business and one from a B2C space. 

Example 1: B2B Architecture

In this example, we have a B2B company from the manufacturing industry. For their opportunity processes, they already have the SAP Sales Cloud solution. Their sales orders are created in SAP S/4HANA Cloud and all of their existing customer master data, such as accounts and contacts, are stored in SAP Sales Cloud. For new potential customers, they want to offer an option to request a product brochure through a landing page.


Phase 1

In phase 1, SAP Sales Cloud is the only inbound data source, while SAP Digital Interconnect is used to deliver e-mails.


image two: high-level B2B technical architecture - phase 1


The corporate account contacts, contacts, and consumers are replicated from SAP Sales Cloud to SAP Marketing Cloud. Leads are replicated from SAP Marketing Cloud to SAP Sales Cloud. Opportunities are replicated from SAP Sales Cloud to SAP Marketing Cloud. Campaigns created in SAP Marketing Cloud are replicated into SAP Sales Cloud. The middleware for the SAP Sales Cloud to the SAP Marketing Cloud integration is the SAP Cloud Platform Integration. An integration package for this integration can be found at SAP Cloud for Customer Integration with SAP Marketing.

The standard integration with SAP Digital Interconnect is used to send e-mails to various e-mail providers while tracking e-mail deliveries and bounces. The e-mail opens and clicks are tracked, as described in Track Response to Emails


Phase 2

In phase 2, corporate account contacts, contacts, and consumers are replicated from SAP Sales Cloud to SAP S/4HANA Cloud. Products and sales orders are integrated into SAP Marketing Cloud, and the additional landing page integration is being built and deployed.


image three: high-level B2B technical architecture - phase 2


Products as well as sales orders are replicated from SAP S/4HANA Cloud into SAP Marketing Cloud through the SAP Cloud Platform Integration. An integration package for this integration can be found at SAP Marketing Cloud - SAP S/4HANA Cloud Integration.

For example, a landing page deployed on SAP Cloud Platform or to another publicly available web server, tracks and sends newsletter subscription interactions to SAP Marketing Cloud. 

Example 2: B2C Architecture

In this example, we have a B2C company from the consumer products industry. They already have SAP Commerce Cloud as their e-commerce platform. Additionally, all of their existing customer master and permission data come from a legacy CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system. 


Phase 1

In phase 1, the main inbound integration sources are SAP Commerce Cloud and the legacy CRM system. Similar to the B2B example above, SAP Digital Interconnect is the outbound data source.


image four: high-level B2C technical architecture - phase 1


The legacy CRM system does not remain the leading system for contact and marketing permission data. Therefore, it is a one-time data source for the initial load. After the initial load, going forward, this integration disappears from the technical architecture.

Contacts, marketing permissions, and interactions (purchases, abandoned carts, product views) are replicated from SAP Commerce Cloud to SAP Marketing Cloud through the SAP Cloud Platform Integration. An integration package can be found in SAP API Business Hub: SAP Commerce Cloud Integration with SAP marketing Cloud.


Phase 2

In phase 2, Facebook and Google Ads are added as additional outbound sources.


image five: high-level B2C technical architecture - phase 2


While Facebook is used for executing social campaigns through a direct integration, Google Ads are integrated through SAP Cloud Platform Integration. An integration package for this integration can be found in Google Ads Integration with SAP Marketing Cloud/SAP Marketing

Document the Planned Integration Scenarios

After you’ve outlined the planned inbound and outbound integrations, it's time to document the integrations.


The following list of questions can guide you on what should be documented. This documentation requires some effort, but it's one of the most important documents you will create. A template is attached below.

Stick as close to SAP standards as possible to minimize dependencies, possible source errors, and to keep maintenance effort at a minimum.

  • Map fields to standard fields instead of creating custom fields.
    • Only take in custom fields that are necessary during the marketing process to reduce complexity, maintenance overhead, and SAP HANA disk consumption.
  • Use standard interaction types like "SALES_ORDER" instead of custom ones, as much as possible.
    • Background: The interaction type "SALES_ORDER" is used across the whole application, but especially for recommendations, reporting and predictive scenarios. It also triggers additional logic during the inbound processing, for example, an item of interest mapping against product categories. Not using this interaction type might exclude you from current and future product features.
  • Check the standard integration content from SAP API Business Hub or SAP Best Practices Explorer before creating custom integration content.


Systems and Components: 

  • Which systems are involved?
  • What is the integration direction? 
  • Which systems are source systems, target systems and which are both? 
  • Are there any regional and/or brand scope for the systems?
  • Are there relations or dependencies between the systems?


Data:

  • Which kind of data is exchanged?

  • Which fields are identifiers (if relevant)? 
  • How is data mapped to standard entities (standard fields, standard business objects)?
  • How is data mapped to custom entities (custom fields, custom business objects)?
  • How are value lists handled (if applicable)? 


Integration Architecture and Technology: 

  • Is it a direct integration or is a middleware in place?
  • Which interfaces and APIs are used on which system? 
  • Which service operations are used (if applicable)?
  • Which standard or custom integration flows are used (if applicable)? 
  • Which technologies and protocols are used? 

  • Which format is used?
  • What is the data integration periodicity and frequency?
  • Is it a push or pull-based integration? 
  • How are the initial and delta loads handled?
  • Which block size is set?

  • What is the average data volume (number of records, size)? 
  • Is synchronous or asynchronous processing implemented?


Performance: 

  • Can the expected data volume (number of records, size) be managed in the interface? 
  • Can the expected data volume (number of records, size) be managed in the middleware (if applicable)? 
  • What is the expected time for throughput for the interface? 

Failure and Error Recovery Handling:

  • What is the quality of service?
  • Do we have a way to handle errors during data transfer?


Operations/Organizational: 

  • How is the data stream monitored? 

  • What is the status of the integration?

  • Who is the responsible contact for the integration? 
  • Where can more information about the integration be found? 

A template including sample entries can be found here: 

Additional Components Delivered with SAP Marketing Cloud

Apart from systems relevant to the inbound or outbound integration, there are additional components delivered with SAP Marketing Cloud. 

As described in the Onboarding Guide for SAP Marketing Cloud, when licensing SAP Marketing Cloud, the following components are provided: 


SAP Analytics Cloud: 

For analytic purposes, use the prebuilt or create your own analytic stories and operational reports. For example, on campaign analytics, contacts and profiles or marketing data analytics. More information can be found in the article Overview about Marketing Analytics.


SAP Cloud Platform Identity Authentication:

For identity and access purposes, the cloud-based identity provider (IdP) provides services for user login, registration, authentication, and access to cloud applications.


SAP Cloud Platform Integration: 

For integration of business processes and data across on-premise and cloud applications, use prebuilt integration content for ETL (extract, transform, load) tasks to move data between on-premise systems and/or cloud systems.


SAP Cloud Platform: 

For extensibility purposes, this platform provides access to a feature-rich, easy-to-use development environment in the cloud.


SAP Jam

For collaboration purposes, the SAP Jam is available depending on your purchased edition.


We highly recommend using the provided systems together with your SAP Marketing Cloud system. For example, SAP Cloud Platform Integration comes with prebuilt and future-proof integration content while SAP Analytics Cloud comes with prebuilt analytic stories.


Please note that in some cases, there might be good reasons to use other solutions to the provided components:

  • Scenario 1: SAP PI/PO (SAP Process Integration/SAP Process Orchestration) is already heavily used in-house and several systems are already integrated on a custom basis. This might lead to the decision to stay with SAP PI/PO as the integration middleware.
  • Scenario 2: SAP Cloud Platform Identity Authentication is the default identity provider for SAP Marketing Cloud. If a corporate identity provider (for example, Microsoft Azure Active Directory) is already in use, SAP Cloud Platform Identity Authentication Service has to be set up as a proxy for the corporate identity provider. This process is also described in the Operation Guide for SAP Cloud Platform Identity Authentication service. 
  • Scenario 3: SAP Digital interconnect is the default Email Service Provider for SAP Marketing Cloud. Integrations with other Emails Service Providers like Amazon are also supported. More information can be found in the help documentation Setting up Service Provider for Email and Text Messages.

Excursus: Global deployment considerations

If your company is active in multiple regions around the globe, another subject during your architecture discussion should be the question: 

"Should we serve everything from one data center or decide for data centers per region?"

In general, both models are possible with SAP Marketing Cloud. There are good reasons for both approaches, which are summarized in the table below: 

Deployment Approach Advantages Disadvantages
One data center around the globe
  • Everything (data, configuration, extensibility..) in one place
  • No efforts required to synchronize, execute global marketing activities or get global analytical views
  • Potential issues with legal/country-specific requirements towards data storage and access

  • Often marketing departments are regionally organized and would not benefit from this approach (e.g. since campaigns are executed regionally and not globally)
  • Potential scalability challenges
  • Potential latency challenges accessing the data center from remote regions
One data center per region
  • Better management and focus on regional requirements and configurations
  • Smaller tenants with better local scalability and latency
  • Typically faster and smaller implementation projects
  • Data distributed across regions. Additional effort required to synchronize data across regions, e.g. for consistent analytical view.
  • No option to execute global marketing activities

The decision for a deployment approach highly depends on how your marketing departments are organized and if there are legal/country-specific requirements towards data storage and access and further regional requirements (e.g. country-specific configurations).

Conclusion

This article introduced you to the first few steps to fully tech-design SAP Marketing Cloud. The first step was to translate business scenarios into a high-level technical architecture, including all systems relevant for integration. The second step, all inbound and outbound integrations needed to be documented in a structured manner.  Now, the optimal foundation has been set for the next steps of your technical solution design, regarding topics such as setting up profiling or permission marketing.

The articles below will help you dive deeper into the technical solution design:

If you're interested in learning more about starting a successful project with optimal technical solution design, we offer the following service:

To access all our community or out of the box product documentation, please check out our List of Online Resources.