SAP TechEd 2018 Take Aways For Managers And Architects

End-to-end processes took center stage at SAP TechEd Barcelona 2018. Where many Business Executives and Enterprise Architects today prefer business capability maps over end-to-end processes, the term was used more than ever before during the TechEd keynote. But it was for a good reason.

Key theme: making the Enterprise more Intelligent

As opposed to last year’s hype-hype-hurray tenor, this year the TechEd tune was more down to earth with a focus on end-to-end business process optimization across the entire business ecosystem by means of digital technologies. Making the Enterprise more Intelligent, SAP calls it. Interesting customer cases presented include S/4HANA extended with Machine Learning to retrieve, from a picture, the article number of the material shown on the picture; or the creation of a purchase order based on a conversation the purchase requestor had with a chat bot.

However, make no mistake. Should you want to launch a disruptive new business model and need to build IT systems for that, no matter if it has to do with Blockchain, IoT, VR/AR, etcetera, SAP offers platforms and tools for building it. This does not yet really resonate in the market, in my humble opinion, and Enterprise Architects should be more open to evaluating SAP technology beyond business systems.

A little less arrogant SAP

Good news is that SAP finally understands they’re not alone in the universe and have dropped the not-invented-here stance. SAP Cloud Platform Integration (CPI) for instance hosts some 150 open connectors, pre-built connectors to third-party cloud applications that work out of the box. On top of that there’s Machine Learning features that suggest you data mappings.

Integration-in-the-box thus is succeeded by out-of-the-box integration. SAP API Management on top of that make the picture complete. Another example is the SAP Data Hub that brings together cross-silo data from SAP and non-SAP sources. Note that when it comes to an API Management Platform the first questions to ask are Why API’s, Which API’s, and For Whom? Not Which API Management platform? Or What Features Do We Need? API makers should check out the API Business Hub on

SAP will need to repeat this message about interoperability over and over again because quite a few Business Executives and Enterprise Architects I know still are convinced SAP systems are not open at all. Or, even worse, believe SAP is synonymous to ERP.

SAP HANA Data Management Suite

Architects in general love clustering but there should be a good reason behind it. The reason why SAP clustered four of their products under the name SAP HANA Data Management Suite is not instantly clear to me. This Suite comprises of SAP HANA, SAP Data Hub, SAP Enterprise Architecture Designer, and Big Data Services from SAP. But SAP Master Data Governance (MDG) is not there, just to name one. And why is an EA tool in?

Anyway, some highlights. SAP HANA can now be used as a JSON document store, to build applications that require schema flexibility and it can do real-time anonymization as well as dynamic masking to hide and protect sensitive data.

The SAP Data Hub is comparable to the control tower for all data flows across the business ecosystem including streaming data, social data, or transactions flowing into a data lake. The main features of SAP Data Hub are meta-data management, orchestration & monitoring, pipelining & processing, and ingestion & integration. It comes with many connectors, open just as well as native, to for example SAP API Business Hub, SAP Cloud Platform Integration, or the SAP Event Bus.

I had a sneak preview of the SAP Enterprise Architecture Designer in Walldorf (DE) back in March ’18 and I remember it looked quite promising. A full-blown EA tool giving business strategy, business capabilities, business processes, data models, IT artifacts, and so on, a place to live. Surprisingly the TechEd hands-on session was limited to producing a canonical data model. But even that may already be quite an improvement for some SAP customers.

SAP Cloud Platform Big Data Services provide a fully managed Big Data framework running in the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud (HEC) that includes Spark, Hadoop, and Hive. Features include ingestion of data using open source solutions such as Apache Kafka and DistCp (Distributed Copy) or SAP solutions such as SAP Data Services, transforming and loading data into the Hive warehouse using open source solutions such as Spark, Pig, and Oozie, and running Spark-based machine learning algorithms using a Jupyter Notebook.

User Experience from GUI to UI5

There was a time when SAP GUI was the one and only UI technology available for accessing SAP applications. Today there’s ten UI technologies, many of which come with a set of tools. No worries, the SAP GUI is still amongst them, 7.60 is GA in 1Q19. The strategic way forward for SAP user experience though is still the same as last year and called Fiori. Nothing new here, just confirmation.

SAP Fiori can be implemented through various UI technologies and platforms. SAPUI5 is the leading UI technology for Fiori. It is an HTML5 framework designed to build cross-platform applications. Major parts of the framework are open source. Maintenance by SAP of version 1.38 ends December 2018, version 1.60 is GA 1Q19.

Worth mentioning furthermore is SAP Web IDE, a web-based development tool that simplifies SAPUI5 application development. And actually, it supports full-stack application development, extension, and deployment. That is not only UI, but also business logic, and database modeling. Not only for SAP technologies like SAP Fiori, SAP Leonardo IoT, SAP HANA, and so on, but also for open-source technologies such as JavaScript, OData, Java, and Node.js.

Current version is 1809 and even though the Roadmap does not mention further version numbers, there’s loads of innovations planned for the Web IDE to become the place to develop once, deploy to multiple SAP environments: SAP Cloud Platform, ABAP platform, SAP Mobile Platform, and the SAP Enterprise Portal. Yep, ABAP is there now in the SAP Cloud Platform and you can store and manage ABAP code on GitHub. Have you ever. No reason whatsoever anymore to not keep your core clean!

Architectural challenges of fast evolving Hybrid Landscapes

Oil and Gas company Shell just as well as the Dutch eCommerce logistics services provider PostNL and other companies have adopted a cloud-only strategy and have a hybrid landscape while transitioning. Even laggard companies have some form of cloud solutions in useand thus al have a hybrid landscape. So, Enterprise Architects everywhere are confronted with having to redefine the integration strategy for their organization. How to blueprint a hybrid integration platform for my organization? When to use what integration technology or service?

SAP provides help here by means of a methodology and reference architecture called the Integration Solution Advisory Methodology (ISA-M). Via high-level scoping of integration areas in a hybrid landscape the integration styles and use case patterns need to be determined. To do this, ISA-M holds a technology-agnostic library of integration use cases: Process Integration, Data Integration, User Integration, Thing Integration, and combinations of the previous. Once defined, ISA-M points you SAP integration technologies. Good help but proper architecting I believe would be to map it to integration technology alternatives, not directly jump to conclusions.

If integration is your thing you’d want to check out the CIO Guide For Integration.

SAP Analytics Cloud is SAP’s primary strategic solution

The SAP Analytics strategy is hybrid but SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC) is SAP’s primary strategic solution moving forward. SAC is interoperable with BusinessObjectsBI (BOE) and it supports remote data connections so your on-premise data can stay resident on-premise. The SAP Analytics Hub is the single front end for all Analytics content, dive into this if you haven’t already.

SAP Hybrid Analytics implies you can deploy Analytics solutions on premise or in the cloud under one license and one contract, giving ultimate flexibility. SAP offers a conversion program called the Cloud Extension Policy to allow for a partial termination of on-premise maintenance when replaced with a new cloud contract.

SAP continues to invest in the on-premise BI Suite and plans to release the next version of the BI suite by Q4 2019. This release, currently referred to as 4.3, will then become generally available in Q2 2020. Mainstream maintenance will be extended to 2026 at a minimum. SAP will continue to deliver innovations in new versions of the core BI on-premise products: BI platform, Lumira Server, Web Intelligence, Crystal Reports, Lumira Designer, and Analysis for Office.

Do you as an Executive or Enterprise Architect want to further discuss any SAP-related topics? Let’s talk!

MENDEL KOERTS is the author of Jeff’s Journey To A Digital Business. He has specialized in business-impact-driven Enterprise Architecture with a specific focus on Enterprise Applications and Digital Transformation. Mendel joined Ernst & Young Consulting in 1996 after graduating from both Business Administration and Computing Science. He founded ENSEAD Advisory in 2011.

SAP TechEd 2017 Take Aways For Managers And Architects

Gone are the days every track title at SAP TechEd had HANA in it. The 2017 edition instead was full of IT industry buzz words, nicely structured around three themes though: Data, Platform, and Experience.

For successful Digital Transformation, SAP said, you need to be in control of data as the fuel your enterprise runs on, you need a platform that caters for scalable innovations, and you must provide a user experience that is delightful. There are a few more things as to my humble opinion, but from a tools perspective this sounds not too far off the mark. 

Data, Platform, and Experience translates into the SAP Data Hub, launched September ’17, the SAP Cloud Platform (SCP) and eh… I guess a couple of things when it comes to user experience. SAP wouldn’t be SAP if the TechEd key-note wasn’t about business impact, this time amongst others by showcasing machine learning capabilities in an agricultural setting.

SAP Data Hub

Gone are the days SAP only offered software products for transactional processing, along with the related analytical tools. The data landscape enterprises are confronted with today stretches across structured and unstructured data, on-premise just as well as in the cloud. Data can be streaming or geographical; in SAP databases or outside. So for advanced analytical purposes, various types of data needs to be extracted or ingested from operational systems and data sources anywhere, be transformed, merged, and integrated.

To orchestrate all this, VFlow’s are being used in SAP Data Hub to build data pipelines and Hadoop and/or SAP Vora are used for the processing of Big Data. The SAP Data Hub v1.0 is available on-premise only for now and pricing is based on the number of managed systems and the number of computing nodes where the distributed processing engine is deployed. Pricing is available in volume tiers.

SAP Cloud Platform

Gone as well are the days SAP hardly played a role in cloud computing. The SAP Cloud Platform (SCP), launched in 2012, is a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) product that brings the on-premise world and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) world together. Think S/4HANA OP and SuccesFactors or Hybris.

A key ingredient is the ‘secure tunnel’ between SCP and on-premise backends, as we can learn from the architecture blueprints on Another security tool allows you to monitor where your data is stored and who accessed it from where.

The SCP can very well be thought of as a development platform. A very extensive one though, as it offers platform services that enable here-to-stay hypes like Internet of Things (Leonardo), Blockchain, and Machine Learning. Persistency services are many as well including MongoDB and Redis. Programming languages supported include Java, Python, and more. Architects thus will need to review their principles, standards, and guidelines and reinforce them for SCP.

Next to development capacities the SCP also presents you with an ever evolving range of pre-packaged apps for e.g. customer service or tax determination and computation for over a hundred countries.

Architects and managers are faced with quite a decision tree when it comes to the cloud stack: which data center location and public cloud provider (AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud), which PaaS foundation (Neo, Cloud Foundry, or kubernetes), then ‘accounts’-related decisions are needed and choices need to be made related to running and operating applications.

Cloud Foundry seems a safe bet. This container-based architecture runs apps in any programming language over a variety of cloud service providers, but mind that not all tools for installation and administration are included in the open source variant. For that, you’d need to look into the Pivotal Cloud Foundry (PCF) product. On Neo, a tool like autoscaler is not available. Kubernetes is still work in progress for SAP.

User Experience

Gone are the annoying overly complex SAP ABAP screens. Those are more and more replaced by Fiori-apps, based on HTML5/UI5 technology. Important for architects and managers is to know that there’s one long-term maintenance UI5 version every year, the next one is 1.52. Check

Delightful user experience does not stop with good looking and easy to navigate screens. What if you wouldn’t have to navigate screens at all and have a digital assistant instead? Well, that’s where the SAP CoPilot comes into play. This first version is now available in SAP S/4HANA Cloud 1705. The further CoPilot road map is contained in the SAP Fiori Road Map.

Just hope all the lovely young ladies you can ask your questions to at TechEd won’t be replaced by chat boys in future.

Business value-add

Still here are the days the SAP key-note is about business value. One case demonstrated how the SAP Data Hub was used in a Retail setting for combining cash register line times per individual customer – Point-of-Sale (POS) data – with streaming data about how customers make their way through the store, which was visualized in a continuously refreshing heat map. This helps Retailers for instance to optimize their shop floor plans or the location of promotions.

Another intriguing case was about how Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s) aka drones scanned palm tree plantations and identified millions of them which were than classified and characterized by a machine learning application; “Is it really a tree that I see”. Based on digital twin models for each tree, growers have the means to build models for how each tree should be fertilized, irrigated, and harvested. Similarly, disease risks, nutrient deficiencies, and yield can be modeled.

And after all that great stuff we saw an actual command line – back to MS DOS from the 80’s…

MENDEL KOERTS is the author of Jeff’s Journey To A Digital Business. He has specialized in business-impact-driven Enterprise Architecture with a specific focus on Enterprise Applications and Digital Transformation. Mendel joined Ernst & Young Consulting in 1996 after graduating from both Business Administration and Computing Science. He founded ENSEAD Advisory in 2011.

The Legal Side of Digital – 5 compliance must-knows

Just some week ago, our CFO not only approved the requested budget amendments for our Digital initiatives, she also really bought into those. But today, there’s trouble in paradise. The auditors had confronted Shirely with three major compliance issues. Shirley M. Fairybank therefore freed up time to sit down again with Jeff C. Brightlight, member of the Digital Leadership Team in $8.5B Fictious Ltd.

Continue reading “The Legal Side of Digital – 5 compliance must-knows”

Digital Transformation – Who needs a CFO…

Managing and containing IT cost was always far more important than investing in new digital technologies, Jeff C. Brightlight states. A bit of an issue for him as Jeff was recently tasked by the Chairman of the Board to develop the Digital services and products that would keep Fictious in business over the next years. So now Jeff, as a Divisional CIO in $8.5B Fictious Ltd, found himself in a devilish quandary about whom to listen to, his boss or the Chairman? How much needed is CFO buy-in for Digital initiatives anyway, we asked Jeff?

Continue reading “Digital Transformation – Who needs a CFO…”


SAP Master Data Governance (MDG) is a master data management solution to centrally create, change, and distribute, or consolidate master data across the entire enterprise system landscape. When browsing through the documentation on the latest 9.0 release (26 Sept, 2016) it speaks of ECC6.08 as a basis, no mention of S/4HANA.

So clients wondered: does MDG9.0 work on on-premise S/4HANA? Well, according to SAP Note 2214181, MDG8.0 works on S/4HANA OP 1511. So… now… we’re awaiting an update of this note to get confirmation MDG9.0 was successfully tested on S/4HANA OP 1610.

Digital Transformation – How to get from Big Data to Big Impact?

To the moon. If you’d put all digital information on cd and stack them, the stack would tip the moon. Five times, mind you. And that actually was in 2013, while the amount of data is doubling every three years. Today, we’re talking to Jeff C. Brightlight again, Divisional CIO at 8.5$B Fictious Ltd. He had noticed how the large internet corporations, the Digital Natives, make excellent money with the huge amounts of data scattered around the net, Big Data. As a member of the Digital Leadership team in Fictious, he went looking for the gold hidden in their data. How, we asked Jeff? Continue reading “Digital Transformation – How to get from Big Data to Big Impact?”

Bye, bye SAP BW on HANA. Hello ‘new’ BW/4HANA. A concise impact assessment.

One of our current clients has been pushing forward the migration of SAP BW to HANA time and again. They got lucky it seems – as per 7 September, 2016, SAP BW on HANA is officially succeeded by BW/4HANA 1.0 (who said no more BW because of HANA??). In terms of capabilities, BW/4HANA appears not to be too different from BW7.5 SP4. But SAP stresses it is a new product. Probably that is because SAP wants to be in a position to charge you extra.  Anyway, time to review the impact on your internal SAP strategy and roadmap. Here’s how.

Continue reading “Bye, bye SAP BW on HANA. Hello ‘new’ BW/4HANA. A concise impact assessment.”

Jeff’s Journey towards a Digital Business


Jeff C. Brightlight (37) is a Divisional CIO at $15B Fictious Ltd. As requested by the Board Jeff and his team embark on a journey towards a Digital Business. They discover the importance of adjusted Governance and Delivery Models, a cross-domain Leadership Platform, progressed Talent Development, and a fit-for-purpose IT landscape. For the latter part Jeff has himself updated by his Enterprise Architect Anton d’Entamico on the Digital Core PoC, covering AWS, SAP HEC, SAP S/4HANA 1511, Central Finance (cFin), SAP MDG, and SAP HCP. What’s the role of sexy Cindy, assistant to the Board? Will Fictious survive as a business in the Digital arena, and, will Jeff win his much-desired CIO of the Year award…?

View the story here and let me know what you’d like to have Jeff explain further.

– Mendel

Is remediation part of a Solution Architecture?

What the heck is remediation anyway, you might wonder? That at least was the reaction I got a few times during earlier projects. But when I explained to the CIO of a brewing giant why and how remediation should be part of a Solution Architecture, he said ‘that would be the first time I see it done right’. So, what does it cover?

Let’s start with what remediation is anyway. Simply put: if you develop a new IT solution to replace an existing one, you need to ensure it functions properly within the remaining existing IT environment and IT governance structures. Sounds easy but there is much more to it than switching off a box and/or rerouting interfaces!

Obviously, the way as to how remediation is approached can vary from project to project. But to my opinion, remediation accountability stretches across:

  • Due Diligence, to understand as-is (also used for other purposes);
  • Solution Architecting the retained environment, in relation to the new solution;
  • Designing, building, and testing the retained environment.

In other words it identifies the adjustments that need to be made to retained IT applications including custom developments, data structures, and application security. Next, it covers the underlying technical infrastructure: the systems landscape, the technical platform, UI’s, the Data Centre infrastructure and network changes, including infrastructure security – pertaining explicitly to the retained applications.

And that’s not all. The remediation accountability includes Vendor Management and/or Legal aspects – for example identifying the licenses and contracts around service management, application management and infrastructure management that need to be terminated.

The remediation function in a project typically supports:

    1. Solution Architecture, by providing architectural input
    2. Service Introduction, to enable this function to take care of retained-side legal matters
    3. Integration Testing and User Acceptance Testing of the functionality, for as far the retained side is concerned
    4. Solution Deployment

The objective of the remediation work is to understand all the IT-related impact the new solution has and to safeguard a coherent IT landscape and IT Governance model after go-live of this new solution.


9 must-knows before implementing… S/4HANA Finance

When talking to the VP of Enterprise Architecture in a Swiss-based manufacturer back in April ’15, he told me he was quite confused with all the recent SAP marketing around S/4HANA, SAP Simple Finance (oops, now S/4HANA Finance), HANA Enterprise Cloud (HEC) and the user interfaces that come along with all this like Fiori. He was looking for the big picture, the real no-nonsense one.
Continue reading “9 must-knows before implementing… S/4HANA Finance”

Meet with Mendel during one of our events!

Some great events coming up! Our Agile SAP Experts Forum is scheduled for 26 November 2016, next on 3 December Mendel Koerts will be speaking at the Dutch SAP User Group (VNSG) conference on ADM about ‘The Role You Play in Digital Business Transformation’ and finally on 7 April, 2016, Mendel will be a speaker at the VNSG conference on Digital Business Transformation, again in the Netherlands. But you may also meet with him in Barcelona (ES) during SAP TechEd or in Heidelberg (DE), during the CCoE Info Forum. Here’s how you can contact us.

9 must-knows before implementing SAP Simple Finance (sFin)

When talking to the VP of Enterprise Architecture in a Swiss-based manufacturer, he told me he was quite confused with all the recent SAP marketing around S4/HANA, SAP Simple Finance, HANA Enterprise Cloud and the user interfaces that come along with all this like Fiori. He was looking for the big picture, the real no-nonsense one. So…shutterstock_112746598

Continue reading “9 must-knows before implementing SAP Simple Finance (sFin)”