archive

Key Performance Indicators Need Their Own KPIs

Are your key performance indicators telling you what you need to know?

While trying to figure out why performance is so hard to measure, companies often learn the hard way that it actually is not. Over-reliance on non-effective measurements can fail to deliver useful insight, and, insult to injury, obscures visibility to more effective approaches.


Why do (did) financial measurements dominate KPIs?


The obvious convenience to financial measurements is that answers to important questions fall so easily from the day-to-day process of just keeping the books:

  • “Are we profitable?” (Red or black ink on the P&L?)
  • “How profitable?” (ROA? ROE?)
  • “If so, why does it always seem like it’s tough to find the cash to pay our suppliers?” (DSO? Bad Debt Ratio?)

The challenge for the modern manager is that financial measurements are, by their nature, up to a month late as books close, and backward-facing. Of greater value is the question: “What aren’t we seeing while we’re driving from the rear-view mirror?”


What the “experts” are (still) saying


It’s almost 30 years since Kaplan and Norton pushed the “Balanced Scorecard” approach into the discussion. MIT’s Sloan School of Management suggests the first cross-industry study of the use of KPIs in the digital era wasn’t conducted until 2018. Knowing the importance of measuring the right things and knowing the right things to measure are two very different things.


Measuring success


SAPinsider’s recent research report, “Assessing Intelligent Automation in Finance,” touched on the “why” of business measurement, in addition to the “how.” Surprising among the many insights is the observation that 26% of automation leaders (three times the number versus among average performers) still take two weeks or longer to close their monthly books. If these finance departments aren’t managing toward the length of their monthly close as this statistic might suggest, what are they focusing on instead?

According to SAPinsider’s “SAP S/4HANA Finance: State of the Market” research completed last summer, a top priority of responding organizations (at 44%) is consistent: Investing in business intelligence and analytics to see beyond the monthly close. The real difference is the objective focus of those investments: The top driver cited by companies identified as ahead of their competition in terms of business results—quite different from the cost priority of the average respondent—is that they set their measurement priorities based on the needs of the business for better data and analytics (41%). No wonder they are less concerned about lengths of their close.


The good news


Regardless of intent, 74% of companies reported coincident benefits in their finance and accounting processes from upgrading their systems towards whatever purpose. Among the benefitting areas cited most was—no surprise based on the universal priority—reporting (61%) and business intelligence and analytics (44%). In addition, most companies further cited better data integration, and improvement in the quality of information from these projects (67% each). And since everyone is enjoying more and better information every day, the bottom line remains the importance of measuring and managing the right things.


What does this mean for SAPinsiders?


For organizations investigating investments in their finance infrastructure, recommendations based on leaders’ success include:

Our 2020 research projects on The State of the Market for SAP Finance – a Benchmark Study” and “The State of the Market for SAP Financial Planning and Analysis” will bring this discussion to an even greater focus over the coming months. Looking forward to continuing the conversation.




How Stemcell Technologies Automated Its Labeling Processes — Reducing Templates by 80%

Label management systems can reduce human error and improve efficiency, quality, and compliance

By integrating SAP S/4HANA with a validated label management system to automate labeling and digitize labeling quality assurance (QA), SAP customers can eliminate opportunities for errors and reduce the number of label templates they use. Learn how Stemcell Technologies underwent a greenfield SAP S/4HANA implementation, which became a catalyst for process reengineering, specifically around labeling. Discover how the company was able to automate its labeling and reduce the number of templates by 80%, despite introducing over 400 new products.

This content is available to SAPinsider Members(complimentary).
Please click below to log in or create an account

Login Now »

Create Acount »



SAP’s Integration Solution Advisory Methodology (ISA-M) for the Intelligent Enterprise

A Simple Approach to Shaping Your Integration Strategy

 

by Matthias Allgaier, SAP SE

 

A solid integration strategy is crucial for providing the flexibility and agility organizations require to meet rapidly changing business needs. When building this strategy, enterprise architects must take into account a variety of pervasive integration requirements. For example, leveraging intelligent technologies to advance business outcomes — becoming an Intelligent Enterprise, in other words — requires a foundation of seamlessly integrated business processes and data. In addition, the strategy must consider a constantly increasing integration scope as organizations add technologies such as software as a service (SaaS), cloud-based ERP, big data, Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), analytics, and mobile to their existing landscapes.

For all of these reasons, integration is taking center stage as businesses pursue a digital path — in fact, Gartner predictsthat through 2020, integration work will account for 50% of the time and cost of building a digital platform. To help its customers successfully navigate the integration required for this digital journey, SAP has defined an integration strategy that embraces out-of-the-box integrations, openness, a holistic integration approach, and AI-supported integration (see the sidebar “SAP’s Integration Strategy for the Intelligent Enterprise” to learn more). As part of this strategy, SAP has introduced the Integration Solution Advisory Methodology (ISA-M).

ISA-M is a methodology offered by SAP that helps enterprise architects define an integration strategy for their organizations and derive related integration guidelines. Introduced in 2014, ISA-M has been successfully applied by numerous global organizations and is constantly adapted based on customer feedback. It includes a set of technology-agnostic integration use case patterns that can be mapped to integration technologies in a customer context. This article provides an overview of ISA-M and uses a detailed example to demonstrate how enterprise architects can use the methodology based on a phased approach to create a hybrid integration platform that supports both SAP and non-SAP integration technologies.

 

 

SAP’s Integration Strategy for the Intelligent Enterprise

 

To support organizations in the journey to becoming an Intelligent Enterprise, SAP has developed an integration strategy based on four core principles:

  • Out-of-the-box integration: For SAP-to-SAP scenarios, prepackaged integration content and semantically aligned application programming interfaces will be delivered to seamlessly integrate business processes that run across the applications of SAP’s Intelligent Suite.
  • Open integration: SAP applications are open so that any third-party applications or business partners can integrate with SAP’s core business processes.
  • Holistic integration: All types of integration will be supported by process-, data-, user-, and Internet of Things-centric integration patterns. The Integration Solution Advisory Methodology (ISA-M) is a part of this principle and serves as a complement to the technology portfolio.
  • Artificial intelligence-driven integration: Integration tools will include artificial intelligence to further simplify the development of integration solutions — by generating proposals for interface mappings, for example, as provided by the SAP Cloud Platform Integration Advisor service.

The key foundation for this strategy is SAP’s Business Technology Platform, which provides all the capabilities needed to cover the outlined integration requirements. Learn more about this platform at https://bit.ly/BusinessTechPlatform.

 

The Integration Solution Advisory Methodology (ISA-M)

ISA-M is designed to help enterprise architects address four common challenges they typically face when designing an overall integration strategy for their organizations (see Figure 1):

    • How do I evolve the integration architecture of my organization to be future-proof?

 

    • How do I define a hybrid integration platform — to support both SAP and non-SAP integration technologies — to cover all the needs of my organization?

 

    • How do I manage increasing integration demands and when do I use what integration technology?

 

  • How do I implement an agile integration practice and empower experts outside our central integration competency center (ICC) to implement integration scenarios on their own?

Figure 1 — Common integration challenges typically faced by enterprise architects

 

ISA-M helps enterprise architects solve these challenges by providing a simple approach — detailed in a free Microsoft PowerPoint template available from SAP that can be used as a starting point and adapted as needed — for handling a broad range of integration use cases and managing integration complexity in hybrid landscapes. Multiple global organizations have successfully adopted and extended ISA-M in their system landscapes, and the methodology is complementary to other enterprise architecture frameworks, such as The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF).

ISA-M provides a collection of typical integration patterns for process-, data-, user-, and IoT-centric integration scenarios. These patterns are technology agnostic and can be mapped to integration technologies or services depending on the specific customer context, which together constitute a customer-specific, hybrid integration platform. Enterprise architects apply the methodology to define and enable this platform using a four-phase ISA-M process cycle.

Figure 2 depicts the four major phases:

    1. Assess your integration strategy.In this phase, enterprise architects can use ISA-M to assess their current integration architecture by analyzing typical integration domains and use case patterns in their hybrid customer landscape. This use-case-driven approach is technology agnostic and allows enterprise architects to identify future building blocks for their integration architecture.

 

    1. Design the hybrid integration platform. In this phase, the set of relevant integration use case patterns can be mapped to integration technologies and services from SAP or third-party components, based on a specific customer context. Together, these building blocks form the organization’s hybrid integration platform. ISA-M can be used to design and document the hybrid integration platform and derive customer-specific integration guidelines to support integration governance.

 

    1. Define architecture blueprints.In this phase, enterprise architects can refine important integration patterns with solution blueprints that outline involved technology components and their interactions. These blueprints can also be used as a foundation for project implementations and to bridge the gap between enterprise architecture and interface development.

 

  1. Enable the practice of empowerment. Finally, in this phase, integration guidelines and architecture blueprints can be rolled out within the organization to empower project teams to develop interfaces in an agile way based on the defined integration strategy. This phase also provides a feedback channel for incorporating lessons learned into the integration strategy.

Figure 2 — The ISA-M process cycle for defining a hybrid integration platform

 

Next, we will look at each phase of the ISA-M process cycle in more detail. Note that the content of the following sections is based on the abstraction of real customer examples.

Phase 1: Assess Your Integration Strategy

There could be multiple reasons for enterprise architects to assess and refresh their integration reference architecture, such as the need to:

    • Extend the existing landscape with new SaaS applications (both SAP and non-SAP)

 

    • Transition from SAP Business Suite or SAP ERP Central Component (SAP ECC) to SAP S/4HANA

 

    • Cover new integration use cases, such as the use of robotic process automation (RPA)

 

    • Consolidate or modernize integration technologies

 

    • Increase the integration maturity level (by establishing guidelines for integration, for example)

 

  • Consolidate technologies due to mergers and acquisitions, for instance

To help enterprise architects assess their integration strategy, the ISA-M template provides a holistic overview of typical integration domains in a hybrid landscape (see Figure 3). Integration domains are technology agnostic and describe areas in a hybrid landscape where integration might be needed depending on the customer context. They can be used as a starting point to document a hybrid landscape and to perform a first scoping of the relevant integration areas. For example, customers can perform an assessment by selecting integration domains that are relevant for their organization or that they might want to further evaluate, for instance, as future building blocks. As ISA-M itself is extensible, customers can adapt integration domains to their specific needs. Note that in addition to supporting Phase 1, integration domains play a key role in Phase 2 when defining integration guidelines.

Figure 3 — Typical integration domains in a hybrid landscape

 

After the high-level scoping of integration domains, enterprise architects can select the integration use case patterns that are relevant to their organizations. ISA-M includes four integration styles that cover key integration archetypes (see Figure 4). The process integration style connects business processes across applications, while the data integration style allows data access and synchronization across applications. The user integration style connects user-centric applications (such as mobile apps) with applications, while the thing integration style connects real-world objects (such as sensors and machines) with applications.

Figure 4 — The four key integration styles and their associated use case patterns

 

Each integration style can be refined by use case patterns that describe typical integration use cases in enterprise landscapes. Cross use case patterns encompass all integration-related use cases that complement one or more of the four core integration styles. For example, the API-managed integration pattern provides full lifecycle management for application programming interfaces (APIs) that can be leveraged in user- or process-centric integration scenarios, for instance. All integration styles and use case patterns are technology agnostic and are applicable within multiple integration domains, such as in the cloud, on premise, or in hybrid scenarios.

In addition, the openness of the methodology allows enterprise architects to use the provided use case patterns as a starting point and to add or remove patterns that are not relevant.

Phase 2: Design the Hybrid Integration Platform

In this phase, enterprise architects map the integration domains, styles, and use case patterns identified in Phase 1 (all technology agnostic) to the functional building blocks of a hybrid integration platform (see Figure 5). Functional building blocks include all integration technologies and services — including both SAP and non-SAP components — that together cover the identified integration domains and use case patterns.

Figure 5 — Mapping the integration domains, styles, and use case patterns to the functional building blocks

 

While the ISA-M template provides examples for this mapping, the mapping is highly dependent on the customer’s particular needs, such as the enterprise architecture strategy, future application landscape, existing investments, available skillsets, and commercial aspects. For example, a single integration platform as a service (IPaaS) might be enough for a simple customer landscape. A large, global enterprise, on the other hand, might require a combination of various integration technologies to cover its pervasive integration needs, such as IPaaS; enterprise service bus (ESB); API management; extract, transform, load (ETL); data management; and IoT platforms.

Figure 6 is an example blueprint of a hybrid integration platform that has been derived and abstracted from some real customer cases. The platform is hybrid in multiple dimensions: it covers multiple integration styles, multiple connected endpoints, and multiple integration domains, and supports multiple integration personas or roles. The integration technologies depicted in this example include SAP as well as non-SAP components, and they are complemented by supporting elements such as an API catalog, monitoring, integration automation, operations, and security.

Figure 6 — An example hybrid integration platform blueprint

 

Through its business technology platform, SAP provides a holistic integration technology portfolio that covers all the integration use case patterns introduced in the previous section. Next, we will look at how SAP technology can be used to support the hybrid integration platform shown in the example, with a particular focus on the process and data integration styles, since these are core to an integration scenario. While here we focus on SAP technologies, since these are core to many organizations, remember that it would also be possible to include non-SAP or open source components in the hybrid integration platform.

SAP Cloud Platform Integration

SAP Cloud Platform Integration and SAP Process Orchestration are complementary solutions for supporting the process integration style: SAP Cloud Platform Integration covers cloud and hybrid integration domains while SAP Process Orchestration is primarily used for the on-premise integration domain. Here, we focus on SAP Cloud Platform Integration to support the hybrid scenario.

SAP Cloud Platform Integration provides a comprehensive IPaaS. It consists of a modular set of integration services that support a wide variety of integration use case patterns. These services include the SAP Cloud Platform Integration service, which supports the integration of SAP and non-SAP applications in the cloud and on premise (application to application), including integration with business partners (business to business) and government agencies (business to government). To realize out-of-the-box integration for SAP-to-SAP scenarios, SAP provides prepackaged content in SAP API Business Hub that can be deployed on the SAP Cloud Platform Integration service.

The SAP Cloud Platform API Management service provides full lifecycle management for APIs, including design and runtime governance, which allows organizations to create simple, connected digital experiences for consumers, partners, and employees. To support the openness of SAP applications, the SAP Cloud Platform Open Connectors service aims to simplify connectivity to third-party applications and accelerate integration by providing prebuilt, feature-rich connectors to over 170 non-SAP applications. The SAP Cloud Platform Integration Advisor service enables accelerated governance of message implementation and mapping guidelines, leveraging machine learning and crowdsourcing mechanisms, and the SAP Cloud Platform Enterprise Messaging service supports event-driven integrations with messaging.

Figure 7 shows an example of an integration flow (exposed on SAP API Business Hub) that can be deployed on the SAP Cloud Platform Integration service: it shows the integration of SAP Commerce Cloud (part of SAP C/4HANA) with SAP S/4HANA where orders from SAP C/4HANA are sent to SAP S/4HANA for further processing as part of an overall lead-to-cash process. This integration flow outlines a typical example for the process integration style that connects business processes across applications and guarantees transactional process integrity.

Figure 7 — A sample integration flow deployed on the SAP Cloud Platform Integration service viewed in SAP API Business Hub

 

SAP Data Intelligence

The SAP Data Intelligence cloud service supports the data integration style. The example hybrid integration platform includes SAP Data Hub, which is a part of SAP Data Intelligence. SAP Data Hub provides data pipelining, governance, and landscape management of diverse data across distributed data landscapes. A metadata catalog provides the governance to get the right data to the right user, in the right context, at the right time.

In the example hybrid integration platform, SAP HANA smart data integration is included as an additional building block for the data integration style. SAP HANA smart data integration handles all data integration scenarios and should be used for ETL and real-time ETL in SAP HANA-centric system landscapes. SAP Data Hub can leverage SAP HANA smart data integration within a data orchestration scenario, making the technologies complementary.

Figure 8 shows the SAP Data Hub Modeler tool, which allows integration developers to model advanced data ingestion and transformation processing steps for data-centric integration scenarios. For example, it enables the ingestion of data from multiple source systems, including databases such as SAP HANA, message queues such as Apache Kafka, and data storage systems such as the Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS) and Amazon’s Simple Storage Service (S3). Data can be cleansed and transformed to a specific target schema and then stored in the target systems for consumption, archiving, and analysis. Users can model data processing pipelines as a computation graph, where nodes represent operations on the data, while edges represent the data flow.

Figure 8 — Sample data processing pipeline in the SAP Data Hub Modeler tool

 

When to Use Which?

So, when do you use which? SAP Cloud Platform Integration and SAP Data Intelligence are complementary offerings that target specific integration use cases with their specific integration capabilities. While the decision is highly dependent on the particular customer context, Figure 9 provides enterprise architects some overall guidance on when it makes sense to use each offering.

 

SAP Cloud Platform Integration  SAP Data Intelligence 
Objective Chaining of distributed business processes in hybrid landscapes Pipelining and orchestrating big data in hybrid landscapes
Use cases • Application to application
• Business to business, business to government
• Master data synchronization
• Data science and machine learning
• Intelligent data warehousing
• Internet of Things ingestion and orchestration
• Data catalog and governance
Coupling to application API focused
(synchronous, asynchronous, business events)
Data focused
(table, table views, storage, technical events)
Integration content Available for a broad range of integration scenarios for SAP software
(hybrid, cloud, third party)
Available as predefined templates for operations and pipelines
Specific capabilities • Message-based processing (monitoring, alerting, error handling)
• Transactional integrity (reliable messaging)
• Process-centric integration flows
• Distributed data processing
• High-frequency event processing
• Advanced data transformations and processing (for example, machine learning, predictive, code)
• Data-centric integration flows

Figure 9 — SAP Cloud Platform Integration versus SAP Data Intelligence

 

Phase 3: Define Architecture Blueprints

Based on the design of the hybrid integration platform, enterprise architects can attach blueprints to selected use case patterns that outline the involved components and their interactions. These architecture blueprints can then be used by project teams for consistent implementation and documentation of integration scenarios.

Figure 10 shows a sample architecture blueprint for the digital integration hub use case pattern. With this emerging use case pattern, customers can reduce the cost and complexity of enabling API access to data held in system-of-record applications for large-scale, high-performance scenarios. By storing an aggregated snapshot of the system-of-record data needed by the channel applications, this pattern protects the system of record from excessive workloads while optimizing the data access latency and responsiveness for modern digital applications.

Figure 10 — An example architecture blueprint for the digital integration hub use case pattern

 

The example outlines how this use case pattern can be implemented using the services of SAP Cloud Platform Integration. Data from the back end is replicated into SAP Cloud Platform, which provides high-performance access through the SAP Cloud Platform API Management service and, in turn, decouples the front-end APIs from the back end (SAP S/4HANA, for example). Updates can be processed by the SAP Cloud Platform Integration service, which integrates with the relevant back-end and cloud applications. In addition, business events can be processed by the SAP Cloud Platform Enterprise Messaging service, which leads to updates in the SAP HANA database. Third-party applications can be integrated into this pattern using the SAP Cloud Platform Open Connectors service.

Phase 4: Enable the Practice of Empowerment

Lastly, ISA-M helps enterprise architects with the challenge of rolling out the integration strategy and enabling it within the organization (see Figure 11). Instead of following an ad-hoc integration approach, with ISA-M, enterprise architects can follow a methodical approach that ensures a mature and successful integration strategy rollout:

    1. Organizations can leverage ISA-M to document their integration architecture to improve communication between project teams and systems integrators.

 

    1. ISA-M can be used to define an organization’s integration strategy, as described in this article. This could help to establish integration as a recognized discipline within an organization and leverage integration as a competitive differentiator by embedding ISA-M into an ICC.

 

    1. Integration guidelines can be established within an organization that could be enriched with solution architecture blueprints and further best practices, such as integration governance.

 

  1. ISA-M can help embed integration into an organization’s general culture and help it embrace integration development outside of a traditional ICC. In this case, ISA-M can be used to scale the integration strategy within the organization and empower integration personas outside of the ICC to do some integration on their own, such as self-service integration by citizen integrators (business users without integration expertise).

Figure 11 — ISA-M provides a methodical approach that ensures a mature and successful integration strategy rollout

 

Get Started

Developing an integration strategy is a critical undertaking. To help organizations succeed at this task, SAP provides the detailed guidance included in ISA-M and resources such as the CIO guide “Process and Data Integration in Hybrid Landscapes” (https://bit.ly/HybridIntegrationGuide). This guide includes information on process, business-to-business, and data integration, as well as information on SAP’s API strategy, integration automation, and transitioning from SAP Business Suite to SAP S/4HANA.

SAP customers and partners that want to explore and adopt ISA-M in their organizations, projects, or services can use the free template available from SAP as the basis for blueprinting a customer-specific hybrid integration platform as described in this article, and can extend it to suit specific needs. Learn more about ISA-M and how to access the template at https://bit.ly/ISA-M.

 

Matthias Allgaier

Matthias Allgaier (matthias.allgaier@sap.com) is part of SAP’s Technology & Innovation unit where he focuses on SAP’s integration strategy for the Intelligent Enterprise, enterprise architecture topics, and customer advisory. He has 16 years’ experience in the integration space including consulting, research, product management, and CTO Office roles.


Introducing SAP Cloud Platform Credential Store

A Secure Repository of Credentials for Applications Running on SAP Cloud Platform

 

by Dimitar Mihaylov, SAP Labs Bulgaria, and Gerlinde Zibulski, SAP SE

 

No software application runs completely alone in a technology landscape — there is always some type of connection and integration with other applications. This is especially true in the modern age of hyperconnectivity, where even the most basic SAP S/4HANA implementation connects to a wide variety of other services and extensions in all combinations, including cloud to cloud, on premise to cloud, and cloud to on premise. For example, many SAP customers extend their on-premise SAP S/4HANA implementations with cloud applications such as SAP SuccessFactors and SAP Concur solutions, which means that employee payroll results or travel expenses have to be transferred from these solutions into the SAP S/4HANA system to keep the accounting information correct and up to date.

A secure connection to another application in an SAP environment requires some form of login credentials — for example, to book wages from an HR system into a financials system, you need an application-to-application connection where you maintain a technical user and a password. In the on-premise world, this is done using remote function call (RFC) and HTTP connections in SAP NetWeaver Application Server ABAP or using system connections via an SAP Process Integration server. To support this requirement in the cloud world, with its heightened need for both connectivity and security, SAP offers the SAP Cloud Platform Credential Store service as a part of SAP Cloud Platform.

This article introduces SAP Cloud Platform Credential Store and provides system administrators and application developers with an overview of the configuration tasks that are required to use this service.

A Secure Repository for Credentials

Released in February 2019, the SAP Cloud Platform Credential Store service provides a secure repository of passwords and keys for applications running on SAP Cloud Platform. Applications can retrieve these credentials and use them, for instance, to authenticate to external applications and perform cryptographic operations, such as signing and verifying digital signatures or encrypting and decrypting data. The service is exposed to applications via a REST application programming interface (API), and all communications are encrypted via the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol and an additional payload encryption to ensure end-to-end confidentiality of the data in transit.

SAP Cloud Platform Credential Store is enabled for all SAP Cloud Platform accounts that have the consumption-based commercial model. The service runs on the Cloud Foundry environment, and is globally available for the following Cloud Foundry regions and platforms:

    • Europe (Frankfurt) running on Amazon Web Services

 

    • Europe (Netherlands) running on Microsoft Azure

 

    • Australia (Sydney) running on Amazon Web Services

 

    • Brazil (São Paulo) running on Amazon Web Services

 

    • Canada (Montreal) running on Amazon Web Services

 

    • Japan (Tokyo) running on Amazon Web Services

 

    • Singapore running on Amazon Web Services

 

    • US East (Virginia) running on Amazon Web Services

 

  • US West (Washington) running on Microsoft Azure

Figure 1 provides an overview of the architecture of the SAP Cloud Platform Credential Store service. In the following sections, we will walk through the steps required to enable the service for consumption by applications, including how to create an instance of the service, how to provision credentials to an application by either binding the instance to an application or creating a service key, and how to enable applications to access those credentials using the REST API.

 

Figure 1 — An architectural overview of the SAP Cloud Platform Credential Store service

 

Creating an Instance of the Service

To consume the SAP Cloud Platform Credential Store service, you must create an instance of the service. There are two ways to create this instance — you can use the SAP Cloud Platform cockpit or, alternatively, you can use the Cloud Foundry Command Line Interface (CLI), which is best suited for use in automation scripts and continuous integration/continuous deployment pipelines. Let’s take a closer look at the tasks involved in each approach.

Using the SAP Cloud Platform Cockpit

To create an instance of the SAP Cloud Platform Credential Store service using the SAP Cloud Platform cockpit, navigate to your SAP Cloud Platform global account and the relevant subaccount in the cockpit. In your Cloud Foundry space, open the Service Marketplace section to view the available services and click on the tile for the SAP Cloud Platform Credential Store service (see Figure 2).

 

Figure 2 — Select the tile for SAP Cloud Platform Credential Store from the Service Marketplace

 

In the service, click on Instances > New Instance (Figure 3). Enter a name for the new service instance (my-credstore in the example) and then follow the guidance of the creation wizard to complete the definition (see Figure 4) — leave the default settings. As you can see, the “standard” service plan is preselected during the service instance creation and it includes a predetermined quota for number of credentials, storage size, API calls per second, and number of bindings.

 

Figure 3 — Creating a new instance in the SAP Cloud Platform cockpit

 

Figure 4 — Define the new instance using the creation wizard

 

Once the definition is complete, the new instance of the service is created and listed (see Figure 5).

 

Figure 5 — The newly defined instance of the SAP Cloud Platform Credential Store service

 

Using the Cloud Foundry CLI

In addition to using the SAP Cloud Platform cockpit, you can also use the Cloud Foundry CLI to view services, and create and view service instances. To use the Cloud Foundry CLI, you must first install it.

Once the Cloud Foundry CLI is installed, you can view the available services in the Service Marketplace using the “cf marketplace” command, as shown in Figure 6. As you can see, it lists the services available from the Service Marketplace along with brief details about each service. The SAP Cloud Platform Credential Store service is listed as “credstore” with a description and information about the various plans available for the service.

 

Figure 6 — Using the Cloud Foundry CLI to view the available services in the Service Marketplace

 

To create an instance of the service, use the “cf create-service” command and to view the created service, use the “cf services” command. Figure 7 shows the creation of the my-credstore service and the display of the created service using these commands in the Cloud Foundry CLI.

 

Figure 7 — Using the Cloud Foundry CLI to create and view the service instance

 

Provisioning the Required Credentials

Once the service instance is created, you need to provision the credentials required for an application to access the instance. Depending on the application, you can either bind the service instance to an application or you can create a service key. As with creating an instance of the service, you can use either the SAP Cloud Platform cockpit or the Cloud Foundry CLI for these tasks.

Binding the Instance to an Application

Binding can be used with an application — such as a custom-developed application or third-party application that has an integration with the service — that runs on Cloud Foundry. To use the cockpit to bind the instance to an application, go to the newly created instance of the service (my-credstore in the example), choose Bind Instance, and then specify the application to which you want to bind the instance.

In the example, we bind the service instance my-credstore to my-demoapp (see Figure 8), which is a sample application that uses the service — that is, it reads and writes credentials from and to the service. Figure 9 shows the newly defined binding of the service instance to the application.

 

Figure 8 — Binding the service instance to an application in the SAP Cloud Platform cockpit

 

Figure 9 — The newly created binding

 

Alternatively, you can use the Cloud Foundry CLI to bind the service to the application using the “cf bind-service” command. In Figure 10, the command is used to bind the my-credstore service instance to the application my-demoapp.

 

Figure 10 — Using the Cloud Foundry CLI to bind the service instance to an application

 

Creating a Service Key

If the service instance will be used by applications or services that are running in another Cloud Foundry space or outside of Cloud Foundry, then you can create a service key.

As with the service instance and the binding, the service key can be created using either the SAP Cloud Platform cockpit (by selecting Service Keys in the relevant service instance) or the Cloud Foundry CLI (by using the command “cf create-service-key”).

Enabling Applications to Access Credentials

Once the service instance is bound to an application, that application is able to access the SAP Cloud Platform Credential Store service via the REST API, which is used to perform operations such as read and write on stored credentials.

The service supports two types of credentials — password and key. The password credential has a name, a text value up to 4,096 characters, and the optional attribute username. The key credential has a name, a binary value up to 32KB, and the optional attributes username and format. Via the REST API, credentials of these types can be listed, created, read, updated, and deleted. The stored credentials are logically isolated using namespaces, which can correspond to a customer, a subaccount (tenant), or anything else specific to an application. Each credential operation is executed in the context of a namespace.

To heighten security, the service uses an encrypted TLS connection, encrypts all response payloads, and requires that clients — that is, the applications that read and write credentials into a service instance — encrypt the request payloads.

Looking Ahead

The SAP Cloud Platform Credential Store service allows SAP customers to securely manage, administer, and store credentials to enable application-to-application connections in the cloud. Going forward, SAP plans to extend its support for secure connections in customer landscapes by building a key management service that integrates with SAP Cloud Platform Credential Store, integrates with major hyperscalers’ key management services, and allows customers to use their own private keys.

Learn more at https://bit.ly/CredentialStore.

 

Dimitar Mihaylov

Dimitar Mihaylov (dimitar.mihaylov@sap.com) works in SAP Labs Bulgaria as a Development Manager in the SAP Global Security organization. His team is responsible for the development and operations of the SAP Cloud Platform Credential Store service. Dimitar received a Master of Science degree in Computer Science from Sofia University in Bulgaria.

 

Gerlinde Zibulski

Gerlinde Zibulski (gerlinde.zibulski@sap.com) works at SAP as a Senior Security Development Manager. She leads a team of security developers and architects that builds products such as the SAP Cloud Platform Credential Store service and consults with internal developers about how to develop software securely. In her almost 21-year tenure with SAP, Gerlinde has spent 16 years in the area of security.

 



Demand Sensing Improves Short-Term Demand Forecasting at Arla Foods

Demand planners can leverage SAP Integrated Business Planning demand sensing to achieve high forecast accuracy

Most organizations today are somewhere along the journey toward becoming a digital business, with meeting high expectations for the customer experience a central driver. One of the keys to creating an exceptional experience is the ability to access data in back-end systems in real time, which means that robust integration is critical. This article introduces a new, standardized approach to integration that can help you accelerate your digital transformation and ensure a seamless customer experience.

A holistic integration approach is a key prerequisite for organizations pursuing a digital path for their business. This article introduces SAP’s Integration Solution Advisory Methodology (ISA-M), which helps organizations shape their integration strategy — using predefined integration patterns for processes-, data-, user-, and Internet of Things-centric integration scenarios — and become an Intelligent Enterprise.

Secure connections between applications is critical in modern, hyperconnected landscapes. The SAP Cloud Platform Credential Store service enables highly secure connections between applications in cloud-based landscapes by storing the required credentials and making them available to applications via a REST API. This article provides an overview of the key concepts and configuration tasks that are required to use this service in SAP Cloud Platform landscapes.

Organizations and citizens worldwide have seen the results of the global plastic crisis. In response, policymakers, society, and leading companies, such as SAP, are coming together to work on solutions — by avoiding single-use plastics, better managing and recycling the plastic waste stream, and creating what’s called a “circular economy.” SAP specifically is helping its customers redesign global value networks toward more circular business models through efforts such as the Circular Economy 2030 and SAP Leonardo Plastics challenges and a number of circular uses cases – around secondary materials marketplace, extended producer responsibility, waste insights, and citizen engagement – that are already at work across various industries. Learn about these and other ways that SAP customers can adopt more sustainable business practices, which could unlock $4.5 trillion in growth by turning waste into wealth.

Organizations and citizens worldwide have seen the results of the global plastic crisis. In response, policymakers, society, and leading companies, such as SAP, are coming together to work on solutions — by avoiding single-use plastics, better managing and recycling the plastic waste stream, and creating what’s called a “circular economy.” SAP specifically is helping its customers redesign global value networks toward more circular business models through efforts such as the Circular Economy 2030 and SAP Leonardo Plastics challenges and a number of circular uses cases – around secondary materials marketplace, extended producer responsibility, waste insights, and citizen engagement – that are already at work across various industries. Learn about these and other ways that SAP customers can adopt more sustainable business practices, which could unlock $4.5 trillion in growth by turning waste into wealth.

Discover how SAP customers can improve short-term forecast and delivery accuracy using SAP Integrated Business Planning demand sensing, which uses machine learning and pattern recognition to match and balance forecasts to patterns in demand with inputs from historical and future sales orders, historical shipments, promotions, weather forecasts, and social media sentiment. With this functionality, companies can achieve higher order fulfillment rates and reduced inventory costs with more inventory turns. Learn how the Arla Foods, the world’s fourth largest dairy company, deployed the demand sensing functionality of SAP Integrated Business Planning and improved its forecast accuracy by 5.5% in Denmark and 2.4% in the UK.

This content is available to SAPinsider Members(complimentary).
Please click below to log in or create an account

Login Now »

Create Acount »



SAP and the Circular Economy

By Enabling a Zero-Waste Value Network, SAP Can Help Customers Reap Financial Benefit While Delivering Environmental and Societal Impact

Most organizations today are somewhere along the journey toward becoming a digital business, with meeting high expectations for the customer experience a central driver. One of the keys to creating an exceptional experience is the ability to access data in back-end systems in real time, which means that robust integration is critical. This article introduces a new, standardized approach to integration that can help you accelerate your digital transformation and ensure a seamless customer experience.

A holistic integration approach is a key prerequisite for organizations pursuing a digital path for their business. This article introduces SAP’s Integration Solution Advisory Methodology (ISA-M), which helps organizations shape their integration strategy — using predefined integration patterns for processes-, data-, user-, and Internet of Things-centric integration scenarios — and become an Intelligent Enterprise.

Secure connections between applications is critical in modern, hyperconnected landscapes. The SAP Cloud Platform Credential Store service enables highly secure connections between applications in cloud-based landscapes by storing the required credentials and making them available to applications via a REST API. This article provides an overview of the key concepts and configuration tasks that are required to use this service in SAP Cloud Platform landscapes.

Organizations and citizens worldwide have seen the results of the global plastic crisis. In response, policymakers, society, and leading companies, such as SAP, are coming together to work on solutions — by avoiding single-use plastics, better managing and recycling the plastic waste stream, and creating what’s called a “circular economy.” SAP specifically is helping its customers redesign global value networks toward more circular business models through efforts such as the Circular Economy 2030 and SAP Leonardo Plastics challenges and a number of circular uses cases – around secondary materials marketplace, extended producer responsibility, waste insights, and citizen engagement – that are already at work across various industries. Learn about these and other ways that SAP customers can adopt more sustainable business practices, which could unlock $4.5 trillion in growth by turning waste into wealth.

This content is available to SAPinsider Members(complimentary).
Please click below to log in or create an account

Login Now »

Create Acount »



4 Business Reasons to Attend Your Move to SAP S/4HANA in Dallas

SAP Experts Help with Your “Many Mini-Decisions” Related to SAP S/4HANA Migration

Every organization and individual in the SAP community is in the same boat — they’re faced with a need to transition to SAP S/4HANA prior to December of 2025 when SAP support for legacy products is expected to end.

Simple, right? Not at all, says Rizal Ahmed, President and Chief Research Officer for SAPinsider. He calls the move to SAP S/4HANA “one of the most complicated decisions” that SAP community members must make.

That being said, the move itself isn’t really a decision at all — it’s something that’s unavoidable, according to Ahmed. Rather, it’s the considerations related to the move that make up a set of complex “mini decisions” that customers must make. And the move is not limited to a certain segment of customers. “Everybody needs to do it,” says Ahmed. “There’s a deadline coming up and it impacts your entire ERP landscape.”

That, in essence, is why SAPinsider is offering its Your Move to SAP S/4HANA conference, December 10-11 in Dallas. Planning for the move to SAP S/4HANA is both inevitable and complicated, and there are many topics related to this transition that are covered in the 17 SAP expert-led sessions taking place over the two-day event.

At this conference, SAPinsiders will gather to learn and network about the move to SAP S/4HANA — an undertaking that unites the SAP community. That, in itself, makes a solid business case for attending, but we’ve compiled four reasons for you to meet us in Dallas to help prepare for your move to SAP S/4HANA.

Register for Your Move to SAP S/4HANA in Dallas, December 10-11

1. Build a Foundation for Your SAP S/4HANA Strategy

Again — it’s not about deciding to move to SAP S/4HANA, since that decision has already been made for the SAP community. At the event in Dallas, there’s an opportunity to build a foundation for the many mini-decisions that Ahmed says are wrapped up in this move.

Several sessions at the event will help attendees build a foundation for making decision such as:

  • Should I deploy in the cloud or on premise?
  • Should I re-implement or go the traditional migration route?
  • What are the impact areas that SAP S/4HANA will have in my organization?
  • How will SAP S/4HANA affect my technical landscape?
  • What is the potential impact on existing business processes?

As SAPinsiders prepare to move to SAP S/4HANA, they need to address all of those things, each of which will be discussed in detail at the event in Dallas, Ahmed says. “So really one big reason to attend the event is to get a foundation for making smart decisions around SAP S/4HANA.”

2. Tackle Data and Custom Code Migration

As SAP community members consider their move to SAP S/4HANA, “it’s important for them to understand the technology landscape that will drive their migration specifically related to data migration and custom code migration,” says AJ Whalen, Senior Research Analyst for SAPinsider.

Your Move to SAP S/4HANA is a logical place for SAPinsiders to explore this significant consideration for those making the transition. They can learn about SAP solutions for enterprise information management (EIM), which Whalen says can really accelerate data readiness. “They need to understand the preconfigured content or accelerators like SAP’s rapid data migration templates that can help them easily determine if their data is clean and how to get it clean, and guide them on which processes to follow to implement going forward.”

SAPinsiders also need strategies for migrating custom code when making the move to SAP S/4HANA. At the event in Dallas, Whalen says there’s an opportunity to learn about tools that are available that can help SAP professionals do things like scan code for inefficiencies that can be critical in creating an accurate assessment of the migration scope.

Migration “isn’t as simple as flipping a switch,” Whalen says. At the event, attendees will “not only hear experts talking about the different strategies and paths they can follow, but also get to listen to peers that can speak from first-hand experience. There are customer case studies in the program where they can hear what their peers have done and the roadblocks they’ve encountered along the way.”

Migration of data and custom code is not to be overlooked, according to Whalen. “Failing to accurately plan for the migration of the code can cost a lot of time and effort,” he says.

3. Understand the Universal Journal

SAPinsider’s finance-related research indicates that financial close and budgeting are among customers’ biggest pain points. That’s one reason why there is a lot of interest around the new Universal Journal in SAP S/4HANA, according to Craig Himmelberger, Senior Research Director for SAPinsider, although currently “it’s not very well understood.”

Your Move to SAP S/4HANA provides a platform for attendees to learn more about the Universal Journal and find out if the tool can help their organizations. Himmelberger points out that SAP positions the Universal Journal as a valuable tool for organizations as they work on financial close, budgeting, financial planning, and analysis — in part, by providing real-time data for nimble decision making. “You can look right at it as it’s happening and adjust forecasts. That could be a beautiful thing.”

Attendees in Dallas can gain a better understanding of whether the Universal Journal can do the same for their organizations.

4. Leverage Invaluable Expertise

One challenge that SAP professionals encounter is that it can be difficult to find colleagues that can directly relate to their struggles. It’s hard to pick the brains of those who only conceptually understand the subject matter. Your Move to SAP S/4HANA immerses attendees in an SAP expert environment.

“Over the course of a day and a half you get to talk to a very distinguished group of experts and customers around SAP S/4HANA,” Ahmed says. “You’re not going to get this much expertise in one place often.”

Also on hand in Dallas will be customers that have recently undergone implementations. “They can advise you not just on concept but based on their real-world experiences,” Ahmed says.

Despite the SAP expert environment, Ahmed adds that it’s not intimidating. “It’s not this massive, impersonal landscape,” he says. “This is a place where you and 150 of your colleagues can gather to ask questions, network, and catch speakers in between breaks to get very specific answers.”

Register for Your Move to SAP S/4HANA in Dallas, December 10-11




Treating The Top 3 Pain Points Of Spend Management

This eBook will pinpoint the top three pain points associated with current spend management practices and explore how a holistic, AI-driven P2P automation solution can help alleviate them.

This content is available to SAPinsider Members(complimentary).
Please click below to log in or create an account

Login Now »

Create Acount »



SAP S/4HANA and Microsoft Azure

How SAP and Microsoft’s Cloud Partnership Affects SAPinsiders in the Mid-Term

 

On October 21, 2019, SAP announced Microsoft Azure as the key cloud platform for SAP S/4HANA. Building on the “Embrace” project SAP announced at SAPPHIRE NOW in May 2019, this new cloud partnership between SAP and Microsoft focuses on creating industry-specific bundles to simplify migration to SAP S/4HANA on Azure, creating a joint sales and support model, and jointly developing migration roadmaps.

This announcement is the third major cloud initiative connecting SAP and Microsoft in 2019. The first was at Mobile World Congress in February, where SAP and Microsoft announced an integration between Azure IoT Hub and SAP Leonardo Internet of Things, and the second took place at SAP TechEd, where SAP announced the interoperability of Azure Blockchain Service and the SAP Cloud Platform Blockchain service.

Based on the survey data SAPinsider collected from customers while preparing our report on deploying SAP S/4HANA, Azure has taken an early lead amongst the hyperscalers with 52% of survey respondents saying that they used Microsoft for cloud solutions — 10% more than those using Amazon, and more than double those using Google. In addition, over 70% of those who are SAP S/4HANA early adopters are doing their deployments in the cloud. This data helps explain why SAP is moving toward Microsoft as a preferred cloud provider even though Amazon is the top cloud infrastructure provider.

Impact on SAP S/4HANA Implementations

SAPinsider research shows that all organizations must take some specific actions to ensure a successful SAP S/4HANA deployment. This new announcement doesn’t change those recommendations, but SAP customers should look at their current plans, evaluate where they are in their migration process, and determine whether any adjustments make sense.

Given the complexities of an SAP S/4HANA transition, SAP’s partnership with Microsoft aims to provide a simplified path to a successful implementation on Azure, hopefully helping to accelerate cloud adoption among SAP customers at the same time. Customers will be assisted by jointly developed content, tools, and services, which were part of the announcement. In addition, the combined support model for Azure and SAP Cloud Platform is designed to help make it easier to get assistance when it’s not always clear where a roadblock is occurring.

The key steps in an SAP S/4HANA implementation still include discovering the impact a migration will have on innovation and business processes, and thoroughly understanding the business case before planning the project. This starts with understanding existing skills and infrastructure with an approach that combines the perspectives of business and IT. Even if current plans do not involve Azure, customers must be informed about the Azure platform given the emphasis that has been placed there by SAP.

For those customers still planning their SAP S/4HANA implementation, the partnership between SAP and Microsoft offers an opportunity to leverage the significant additional material that will be created as part of the agreement. While it will likely take a few months for some of these offerings to become available, this time can be utilized to determine whether Azure is an appropriate candidate for their implementation. In addition, if Azure does make sense for your cloud migration, then there is an opportunity to educate and prepare the implementation teams and fully plan for the deployment.

SAP and Microsoft: What Lies Ahead?

This agreement is a significant investment by SAP in its relationship with Microsoft. Given that this is in addition to announcements earlier in 2019, expect to see more collaboration around other solutions and technologies that will bring Microsoft and SAP closer. For example, integration between SAP Analytics Cloud and Microsoft Analytics Platform System or Power BI could be possible, especially given the recent acquisition of Tableau by Salesforce, which affects both companies.

Also, while SAP’s first major collaboration around project “Embrace” was with Microsoft, expect to see announcements for partnerships with other hyperscalers in 2020 and 2021. When SAPinsider spoke to Sven Denecken, Senior Vice President of Product Management, Co-Innovation SAP S/4HANA at SAP SE, he said: “While we work with all major hyperscalers, Microsoft is one of the most prominent with significant global reach. That’s why we said this is where we’re going to start.” Although Azure has a strong presence, Amazon is the second-most-used cloud vendor among SAP customers in addition to controlling nearly 50% of the cloud infrastructure market, and to not pursue collaboration with vendors like Amazon or Google would be leaving significant opportunities behind for SAP.

Whether future collaborations will have the same depth of relationship as has been revealed with Microsoft is unclear, but project “Embrace” is intended to facilitate the move to SAP S/4HANA in the cloud across all the hyperscalers, working in conjunction with global strategic service partners to deliver the program. The goal of shorter negotiations, streamlined teaming, and faster, risk-managed implementations ties closely to SAP’s overall cloud strategy and desire to have as many customers as possible moving to the cloud and achieving their SAP S/4HANA migrations in that space.

What This Means for SAPinsiders

Whether customers are just starting their SAP S/4HANA journey or are already moving forward rapidly, this announcement will have a significant impact. Here are some key points to focus on around your SAP S/4HANA implementation and cloud transformation projects:

    • Make education a starting point. With SAP announcing Azure as its preferred cloud platform, knowing more about Azure and the way that it works is critical. Being prepared is a fundamental part of any project, and being sufficiently knowledgeable to make an informed decision about whether to run SAP in Azure and leverage the assets that this relationship with Microsoft will provide, or to move forward on another platform, will be critical. SAPinsiders will need to focus on building their cloud strategy, knowledge, and skillsets.

 

    • Prepare for acceleration of cloud-based solutions and offerings. SAPinsider has stated before that the future of SAP is in customers moving to both SAP S/4HANA and the cloud. Given the timing of this announcement, it should be expected that SAP will continue to be aggressive with rollout of cloud solutions and services, with more major announcements likely in the future.

 

  • Expect an increased push to migrate to SAP S/4HANA. The release of this announcement on SAP’s Q3 2019 earnings call makes this topic a focus for SAP in Q4. With Azure as the preferred cloud platform for SAP S/4HANA, and the emphasis on reducing complexity and minimizing costs for SAP customers, there will be an even greater incentive and pressure for customers to sign up for services this year and into the first half of 2020, and to start their migrations as soon as it is feasible.