Data Integration plays an important role ensuring model performance, accuracy & reliability. Anaplan provides various integration options like Anaplan Connect, Third Party Connectors (like MuleSoft, Informatica, Dell Bhoomi), Anaplan APIs etc. All of them have certain advantages & disadvantages, hence it’s up to individual businesses to select the correct option as per their requirements.
Generally, businesses prefer a tool which can provide multiple integration options, easy to use, automation, and competitive pricing. Anaplan Connect provides you the platform to integrate with multiple source system, automate, easy to use, and it’s completely free. No middleware license is required.
What is Anaplan Connect?
Anaplan Connect is an on-premises Java utility that automates and runs integration scripts for imports and exports. You can simply install it on your local computer or server, and start creating command line scripts to execute various Anaplan Actions (like includes Import, Exports, Process etc.)
Some Key Features
- Ability to execute Anaplan actions like Import, Export, Process, and Delete
- Support flat files and JDBC connectors
- Support Transactional APIs to read to data from saved views, lists without the need to create any Export action
- Enhanced security with CA certificates for authentication
- Running API queries to fetch workspace/models related details for better maintenance
Anaplan Connects works with Anaplan APIs (Application Programming Interface) to perform all tasks, hence its useful to know about these Anaplan APIs and most used HTTPs Verbs
- GET – Retrieves information from the application
- POST – Create new items/values in the application
- PUT – Update existing item/values in the application
- DELETE – Delete items/values from the application
Basic Authentication vs Certificate Authority (CA) Certificates
Preventing unauthorized users from accessing & executing script files is very important from a security standpoint.
Anaplan Connects works with Basic Authentication and CA Certificates. It is widely believed that CA certificates are more secure as compared to “Basic Authentication” as there are some drawbacks with “Basic Authentication”
- The username and password are visible in form of “Text” to any person who has access to the scripts
- As per Anaplan password policy, the user credentials must be updated every 3 months which means that the scripts need to be amended every 3 months increasing the maintenance workload
CA Certificates are valid until the end of the certificate validity. Hence, no regular maintenance of integration scripts is required
Anaplan Bulk APIs and Transactional APIs
Most of us are aware of Anaplan Actions like Import, Export, Process etc. & how to execute these actions manually. Now, imagine if we could perform the same activities automatically & remotely without accessing the application at all.
This is where Anaplan Connect comes into the picture. Using Bulk APIs, you can perform all these Anaplan Actions using command line scripts. For example –
- Upload and Download Files – You can upload data files from your local computer, or any external database using JDBC connector into Anaplan
- Execute Anaplan Actions – You can execute any Anaplan actions like Import, Export, Process or Delete remotely by running command line scripts. Make sure these Actions already exist in the application otherwise it will not work
- Model to Model Import – You can perform Model-to-Model Import using command line scripts using Bulk APIs as well
A quick question – What are these “command line scripts” which we are referring to so many times?
These are batch files which you can create and execute to perform Anaplan Actions.
The below example is a “Batch” file showcasing how you can upload a file and at the same time execute an Import Action. Notice, the HTTP verb used over here “PUT”
What are Transactional APIs?
In simple terms, if you want to change/modify anything at the transactional level, be it a specific List or a specific Module, you can use Transactional APIs. Transactional APIs allows you to interact with the application without the need to create any Action items.
Like Bulk APIs, you can create command line scripts for Transaction APIs to run your query. You can create different types of queries to interact with the application, for example –
- Get information about lists of workspaces, models, space allocated, and space used
- Get a complete list of modules and saved views within your model
- Display data from saved views without using export actions
- Add new items to Model Lists
- Update existing items or Upsert (add and update combined) items to Model
- Delete items from Model Lists
The below example reflects how you can export List details without using any “Export” Action. Notice, the HTTP verb used over here “GET”
We have already talked about how you could upload data files manually from your local computer & execute Import Action using command line scripts. However, what if you could extract the data from an external database & execute the Import Action automatically. JDBC connectors provides you that capability to extract data from an external database like SAP S4 HANA, Oracle Database, Snowflake etc. & import the files automatically into Anaplan.
JDBC connection requires a “Properties” file. A “Properties” file stores all database related information like database connection path, access credentials, query details, parameters etc.
Below example reflects a “Properties” file. Over here, we are trying to establish connection with SAP S4 HANA database.
Your batch file should include “Properties” file details which you have created earlier. In this case, we are updating the JDBC “Properties” in our batch file. The objective of this batch file is to extract the data from SAP S4 HANA database and import it into Anaplan
There are certain limitations with batch files like for example, Anaplan Connect does not provide any in-built scheduler to run these scripts automatically. Hence, you have to use Windows “Task Scheduler” to run these scripts automatically.
Anaplan Connect works very well with Bulk and Transactional APIs along with JDBC connectors. Your data integration requirements can be fulfilled using Anaplan Connect.
Anaplan Connect works well with data extraction & load if that is your only requirement from a business standpoint. However, if you wish to transform the extracted data before loading it into Anaplan, then you will have to use other data integration tools like MuleSoft, Dell Bhoomi etc., as Anaplan Connect doesn’t support any data transformation option. Hence, we can safely assume that Anaplan Connect works well with EL (Extract & Load) methodology.