It is probably more relevant to discuss the comparison between these solutions based on a specific scenario, but here are some basic differences. Obviously, the foremost one being that the SAP Exchange Infrastructure (XI) belongs to the SAP Netweaver technology suite, whereas Business Connector although bundled by SAP is really a Integration tool provided by Web Methods.
Being a Netweaver solution the SAP XI is central in design and configuration. The SAP XI is really integrated as a required solution for some of new mySAP solutions like SRM. For example, the mySAP SRM business scenario for Supplier Self Services in EBP requires the implementation of SAP XI, the Business connector cannot be utilized to replace this scenario. Although the SAP Business Connector can still be utilized with SRM for all XML based communication. Both mySAP SRM and XI runs natively on the SAP WebAS Server.
The Business Connector is a point to point solution that provides messaging and routing. Currently a number of organizations using the Business Connector utilize it to communicate between its partners using XML based messaging. This can be achieved using SAP XI as well, but SAP's strategy is to utilize XI as a central hub for messaging, routing, and communication between all SAP, non-SAP systems as well as partners. As SAP XI is a relatively new solution, organizations that are looking for communicating with their partners to exchange XML based documents or other point-to-point scenarios can still utilize SAP Business connector.
Initially, when SAP announced the SAP XI, there was a notion that SAP Business Connector would be phased out and SAP XI would be the solution utilized hereon. But SAP will continue to support the Business Connector, the SAP Exchange Infrastructure will remain as the SAP's strategic integration solution. All new and or updated SAP solutions will make use of the XI for all process-centric, message based integration. As upgrades are scheduled and new solutions deployed we'll see the mandated need for XI but currently the only solution that natively requires SAP XI is mySAP SRM 2.0.
It will be interesting to see how organizations that already utilize SAP Business Connector warm up the SAP XI idea. But for the most part they will not have a choice really, as the new mySAP products are going to natively require the use of SAP XI for all process-centric integration between the different SAP solutions. But there is no reason why organizations cannot continue to utilize the SAP Business Connector for all point-to-point solutions already deployed with possibly document exchange and partner integration. Hope this helps.
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