Enterprise Applications on AWS: SAP

I can access to the Amazon Partner Network and some of the interesting stuff you can find there is training and product information.

I did the one related to SAP, and there are some topics very interesting:

  • SAP invites to use the BYOL (Bring your own License) model for creating environments into AWS. You can also use pay per use payment, but is limited. This has been, is and will be the hottest topic in the relationship between the 2 organizations since years.
  • SAP controls the way to implement their systems on AWS with SAP Notes communications and guidance documents through their own channels.
  • They make difference between certified and non-certified implementations. This is a tricky thing for me.
  • The recommended way to migrate to AWS platform is to export/import the database on a new installation.
  • Before to implement it, they recommend to read a bunch of SAP Notes.
  • They recommend your own SAP installation better than the pre-build solutions you can find in the AWS marketplace.
  • For calculate the right size of your environment, they recommend to do it with SAP Quick Sizer tool. This is an interesting topic that I’m willing to know: how is the real performance?
  • For the implementation you can use AWS instances: Standard instances, EBS-optimized instances or cluster compute instances. For sure the last one is the best one, but if you are supposed to move to AWS to save money, you really want to take the right one without losing performance.

SAP-on-AWS

The Future of SAP HR

I work with SAP HCM and I am always looking for the direction this solution is taking. I found this article that explains very well the situation of the product and the road-map.

For me and my customer, the summary is:

  • My customer can preserve SAP HCM till 2025, they are legally covered.
  • SAP is investing on SuccessFactors, so new features will be implemented there.
  • SAP SuccessFactors have to provide payroll solution in a robust way as today on SAP HCM.
  • My customer is investing on Workday, so they can wait and see how Workday payroll solution works: they have 10 years to move SAP HCM processes to Workday (more than enough).
  • The only planned investment at this moment is the EPh6.
  • EPh6 has new features that can be activated, but in the environment we work, we will first upgrade it, then on the development environment we will test and show these new features to the BPOs and we will decide the final configuration of these new features.

SAP from Unix to Linux

Reduce TCO again as reason to perform actions on a system. This is the reason to move from Unix to Linux.

I learned about the project approach, and it’s already industrialized:

  1. Deliver the profile parameters of SAP environment.
  2. Export data using the export SAP standard R3Load.
  3. Request the software SAP (same version as original one).
  4. Creation of a new SAP environment on Linux.
  5. Import data using the standard SAP R3Load.
  6. UAT: check that the information on the source environment is the same to the target environment.
  7. Go-live.

You only need to look at the SUSE’s slogan: “The Leading platform for SAP Solutions on Linux”

They promise:

  • 70% reduction in TCO.
  • 99,99% mission critical availability.
  • 60% performance improvement.

SAP and their cloud journey

Some years ago SAP announced the creation of SAP Business By Design (BBD). This solution was created to gather the ERP needs for mid-size companies and be one piece of puzzle on the journey to move the SAP services to cloud based solutions (other are: successfactors for HR, Ariba for procurement).

The relevancy of BBD in the market has been low, and SAP was losing the race to the cloud services in this area.

Then the strategy to reach the market changed. After so many discussions about the pricing models to offer SAP on Amazon Web Services, now you can acquire SAP on the AWS Market Place.

The market target is different, but it’s relevant how the synergies between infrastructure and applications (now cloud services) are established.

From the position point of view, it’s interesting to highlight the way SAP is sold. In the past SAP decided the pricing models and the way to acquire the software; now in the AWS marketplace, the rules are defined by Amazon: price per hour.

SAP_on_AWS_marketplace

 

SAP Manufacturing Integration and Intelligence (SAP MII)

I have to gain some basic knowledge on SAP MII. To do it I was reviewing some basic information and looking for some business scenarios that help me to understand the whole thing.

To understand the solution, just attend to the name: MII.

Manufacturing, nothing to say here,

Integration, it basically tries to integrate the shop-floor systems and business operations, offering the data and the relevant information to the different stakeholders (operators, plant managers…). All in real time.

Intelligence, this basically attends to the idea of offering the necessary business logic that automate as much as possible, and offer the required real time reports to all stakeholders.

The picture before SAP MII could be something like 3 components: ERP (POs, materil inventory, BoM, planned orders,…), MES (production confirmation, quality notifications, material transfers) and Shop-floor (material receipts, materials comsumptions…).

Once, SAP MII is on scene, we can organize the processes from front-end point of view, we can integrate shop-floor through interfaces, automate some of the processes through a graphical environment that really speed-up the integration process, and finally define the information to be shown to the different stakeholders.

SAP MII is a composite application platform composed by:

  • a portal that enables real time data to each type of user, using PC, browser or mobile device.
  • a data layer, with specific connectors (I would say that this seems to be very similar to SAP PI) with connectors. I would expect that the standard connectors really cover the industry shop-floor environments, the manufacturing industry is famous by having old dinosaurs on their IT.
  • SAP PCo (Plant connectivity), something I need to investigate in deep.
  • Business logic, where you can define the transactions you want to put in place.

 

Mobility cannot be sold as stand alone solution

Mobile applications for corporations is a complex business. The decisions are being taken into so much perspectives and the situation of each company also has a big influence on it.

The real question is not how to sell mobile solutions, the right question is how mobile solutions are purchased.

Connectivity and web access, some years ago there were a fever to offer all applications through the web browser; this makes that in some cases almost all key applications are accessible through a web browser. The second component is the connectivity. During the last years the security industry has improved a lot and the big corporations have opened channels of communication through the internet to enable connectivity in a secure way.

So many people request their vacations through a web browser from home only entering their user name and password; all from home. It can be your PC at home, your tablet, your smart phone and soon… your  watch? or maybe … your glasses?

Critical and Key applications, companies take their portfolio of applications and they classify them (for instance by critical, key or non key applications). Each category receives more or less attention from the strategy point of view and hence more or less funds to improve or decommission a tool. It is also important to understand that behind these tools there are processes, that also are classified in the same way. So well, you have to look into the critical processes for your customer, not the others.

I know, I know, you can find so much productivity points for HR or administrative processes, and they can be improved with a mobile solution, but due to their classification they will not be considered or funded.

Platforms, today the companies invest on platforms (SalesForce, Microsoft Office 365, SAP…..) all of them have by default a configurable mobile layer or a way to access to it through mobile. Here it could be a niche, for instance SAP by default do not implement mobile layer, and a huge amount of effort is required to enable it. Well here you have a chance!! The main issue you can have is that the partner that today is performing that area will be better positioned to implement the mobile layer due to the detailed knowledge of the environment.

The “mobile” value, this is something important to think about it. For a given application, you put it available through a mobile device. what is the increased value of having it there? how much productive is going to be the organization? the answer to these questions have to be strong, and the people working on these processes are the ones that really know the pain points. They all are users of smart phones and they ask themselves “I would desire to see this data from my phone”. Operators maintaining manufacturing plants, people looking at semaphores, people that travel and request something or need to approve/reject something.

There are other perspectives or considerations to be taken into account.

So, before to think how to offer mobility to your customer, look for the right pain point that your customer has. Not all are bad news, all these companies have some niches where they have a need and they really are willing to have mobility.

SAP Landscape Transformation

I have assisted to a couple of sessions on SAP Landscape Transformation training, for the HCM split we have to perform.

During the system split, we will migrate parts of the SAP HCM data of a system into a new system. After the conversion, the new system only contains the migrated SAP HCM data.

Some basic concepts I have learned:

  • Project, it is entity that composes the actions you want to transform. It is composed by packages.
  • Phase: a project is composed by phases. For instance: development, UAT and production.
  • Packages, it is a set of actions that provides a partial transformation part of the project.
  • Project template: it is a set of predefined actions that you can build in a sequence. You can use this template to create different projects.
  • Task: it is linked to a phase of the project.
  • RFC entity: you can define all the components of a Remote Function Call between systems.
  • Sender: SAP environment where the data comes from.
  • Receiver: SAP environment where the data goes to
  • Control: SAP SolMan.
  • Central: An environment in the middle to enable transfer from Sender to Receiver. In so many occasions Central and Control are the same environment. Only when the performance is low the recommendation is to have separate environments.

There is a Process monitor for each package. This monitoring is split in:

  • Package settings
  • Prepare HCM transfer
  • HCM Transfer
  • Upgrade
  • Final post processing activities

Each one of these areas is composed by a set of configuration activities.

 

Talend ESB & SAP PI

I have been reading this technical note related to the integration of SAP data using open
source data integration (Talend).

The reason is because I have this situation.

We provide support to a SAP HCM system that delivers the HR processes for UK. This includes the delivery of the HMRC report (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) that nowadays is delivered through SAP PI.

Our customer is reviewing the use of SAP PI and is trying to find an alternative. One of them could be Talend ESB.

My doubts are:

  1.   Is is possible to implement this conectivity with Talend ESB?
  2. If so, what are the major challenges we have to take into consideration?

I hope you someone reading this know the answer :-)

SAINT Tool

I was reviewing how the Vistex add on was installed on SAP and I learned a basic information I did not know: SAINT

SAP and other companies offer a wide range of add-ons that you can use to enhance your standard SAP system, it can be Industry Solutions, plug-ins, or customer-specific development projects.

SAP Add-On Installation Tool (transaction SAINT) enables users to install and upgrade add-ons directly from their standard SAP system.

SAP_SAINT

Evolving on SAP knowledge

My background is not SAP, but since last 3 years I’m delivering different services as LoS Lead related to SAP. The Service Managers are great professionals and that give me very good explanations about processes, modules, technical aspects…

I’m not an expert, and it will take really so much years or a drastic change of direction in my career to be really an SAP expert. But I’m happy of having an opportunity I’m working, it’s an SAP technical upgrade for an ERP that is in SAP 3.1i

I`m learning about the main processes managed by the ERP, some details that we will have to change, as the ECC6 works deliver the processes in a different way. I’m learning how the Production Orders are sent to the scheduler and they come back with the schedule to SAP, how the cost of the production is calculated and how they delegate some processes to external applications.

So many new things that make me happy!

DSC00757(In a restaurant in Atlantic City, NJ)