SAP SCM Modules & Certifications

I received a lot of comments on my YouTube video about SAP SCM asking how one can learn SAP SCM or what modules should they choose among the so many different ones that are available.

SAP Supply Chain Management is not just one application that you can learn but it is a broad term. It is further divided into different categories and there are different types of SAP applications involved under those categories.

Those categories are Design, Plan, Procure, Manufacture, Sell, Deliver, Operate, & Project Management.

Let’s take a new car manufacturing company as an example and see how these categories and SAP applications will fit in with their business model.

In the design phase, the company can use S/4HANA Research & Development application to design their new car.

Once the car is designed, they can use SAP Integrated Business Planning to plan all the logistics that are needed to start their car manufacturing process.

Once the planning is complete, they can use applications like S/4HANA Procurement & SAP Ariba to procure the raw materials and manage the vendors that are required to manufacture the car.

Then the actual manufacturing and assembling of the car happen. For this purpose, they can use SAP applications like S/4HANA Manufacturing, S/4HANA Manufacturing Execution & SAP Digital Manufacturing Cloud.

Then comes the sales process. For that, they can use the S/4HANA Sales application.

Then the cars that have been sold need to be delivered to either the showrooms or to the customers directly. This is one of the trickiest parts of the end-to-end supply chain management process. For this purpose, the company can use SAP applications like SAP Extended Warehouse Management & SAP Transport Management.

The car manufacturing company will have a lot of movable and immovable assets that must be managed along with the people that provide services for the types of machinery and equipment. For that purpose, they can use SAP applications like S/4HANA Asset Management & Field Service Management.

And finally, running a car factory and manufacturing cars is no easy job. It requires highly skilled Project managers and project management tools. For this purpose, they can use SAP applications like SAP Portfolio & Project Management, SAP Product Lifecycle Costing, SAP Commercial Project Management & SAP Engineering Control Centre.

If you look at the SAP Training & Certification Centre, you will see training courses categorised into these eight categories that I just talked about. Depending on your interest, you can enrol in any of these courses, take the exam and get certified. If you ask me which of these are in high demand, my personal opinion is that S/4HANA Procurement, SAP Transport Management, SAP Extended Warehouse Management & SAP Supply Chain Planning are the highly in-demand areas.

Thank you and I will talk to you in another video.

Introduction to SAP Cloud ALM (SAP CALM)

Hello friends, welcome back to my blog. In this post, we will discuss SAP Cloud ALM, also called SAP CALM.

Introduction to SAP Cloud ALM – YouTube video

Introduction

When SAP released CALM, people asked if it was just a Solution Manager that is hosted in the cloud. The answer is no.

SAP CALM is a cloud application built by SAP from scratch and it is hosted on SAP BTP which stands for Business Technology Platform. If you want to learn more about SAP BTP, please check out my blog here.

So, it is not a Solution Manager that is hosted on the cloud. SAP claims CALM to have a better user experience, open APIs, cost-effective, simple & easy to configure and use.

What is ALM? or Application Lifecycle Management?

Before we get into the details about CALM, let’s take a quick look at what is Application Lifecycle Management.

ALM software consists of tools and processes that help to manage the lifecycle of a software product from product design up until the end of its life.

The lifecycle of a software product consists of different phases like requirements gathering, building, testing, deploying and operating.

So ALM software provides us with tools that can help us manage all these different phases of a software product. In other words, it can be called the software that is used to manage the development and operation of other software.

SAP Solution Manager was the famous ALM tool that was offered by SAP to its customers. It is free of cost and has got a whole lot of functionalities like application operations, business process operations, data volume management, test management, project management, change control management, process management, IT service management and much more.

But the problem with Solution Manager was it became very complex to configure these functionalities and maintain them on an ongoing basis. It was an on-premise application, so it requires resources to install, configure and maintain it which in turn costs money for the customers.

Customers were actually asking SAP for a long time to create a cloud-based ALM tool that can replace Solution Manager.

Finally, SAP has done exactly that.

As I mentioned before, SAP Cloud ALM is a cloud application. So the application is installed and maintained by SAP from a technical perspective. Right away, that makes it attractive to the customers as they don’t have to spend money installing and maintaining it.

SAP has also promised that it has made Cloud ALM, simple to configure and easy to use. So let us assume it is not as complex as Solution Manager to configure and make things work which makes it even more attractive for the customers.

So, does that mean Cloud ALM is the future? That is absolutely right. In the recently held SAP ALM summit, SAP confirmed that the Solution Manager will be supported until 2027 which means it will concentrate its effort on developing Cloud ALM going forward.

I have made a YouTube video about Solution Manager as well. Please check it out here

SAP Cloud ALM Functionalities

Its functionalities are divided mainly into two categories which are Cloud ALM for implementation and Cloud ALM for operations.

Just like any waterfall model, you design, build, test and deploy the software. After deployment, during the business-as-usual phase, you might come across issues. So, detect those incidents, analyse the root cause, resolve the problem and then automate the solution so that whenever the same issue happens again, it can be resolved without human intervention.

SAP Cloud ALM for Implementation

The above picture shows the process view of Cloud ALM for implementation.

So the steps are Design → Build → Test → Deploy.

In the design phase, you design the functionalities in the SAP system as per business requirements. Conduct fit-to-standard workshops to convert the business requirements into standard SAP processes.

Once the design is complete, you start configuring the software as per the design

Then test the configurations

And finally, deploy and go live with the product or solution.

The above picture shows the different types of technical functionalities that are covered under the Cloud ALM for the Implementation process. The ones that have a small asterisk mean those functionalities are planned to be available later.

SAP Cloud ALM for Operations

The second category is Cloud ALM for operations and the above picture is the process view.

As I mentioned before, once the product is live, you need to monitor for any issues.

Identify those issues

Then diagnose the root cause of why it occurs

resolve the issue

then automate it.

The below picture shows the technical functionalities that make the Cloud ALM for operations possible.

It has got different types of monitoring functionalities using which you can monitor end-to-end business processes, you can monitor integration between multiple SAP and non-SAP applications, performance monitoring, incident management etc.

Supported Solutions

So, what are the solutions that are supported by SAP Cloud ALM? SAP Cloud ALM was created with cloud applications in mind but it has got some functionalities that are available for on-premise S/4HANA systems as well.

SAP has provided a website that lists the different types of solutions that are supported by Cloud ALM. You can filter either based on the SAP application or based on Cloud ALM functionality. You can access the page here

SAP Cloud ALM Demo

SAP offers a free Cloud ALM demo system that anyone can access. You do not require an S user id.

As you can see on the screen, SAP has provided some predefined roles with usernames and passwords. You can use any one of these to access the relative content in the demo system.

For example, if I am a project manager, I can log in as Paul to see the functionalities related to project management that is offered by Cloud ALM.

You can access the demo page here

How to request a Cloud ALM system?

For this, you will need an S user id with admin access. Because the Cloud ALM is a cloud application. It should be linked to a customer account. So if you want to request a Cloud ALM tenant to be provisioned for your organisation, then you must create the request using your organisation’s S user id.

You just go to the Cloud ALM page in the SAP support portal. Then there is this request button. SAP says it only takes 15 mins for a Cloud ALM tenant to be provisioned for you which is excellent.

Link to request an SAP Cloud ALM tenant here

How can you learn more about the Cloud ALM?

Comparatively, Cloud ALM is still new. So SAP is still developing learning content for it. But in saying that, there is already a good amount of learning resources available for Cloud ALM.

The SAP Cloud ALM support portal is your one-stop shop if you want to learn more about this product.

I will walk you through the things that are available on this page.

The first thing you will notice on this page is these three buttons. Discover, Try and Request. The “Discover” button will provide you with a pdf document with high-level information about Cloud ALM. The “Try” button will take you to the Cloud ALM demo page with the user name and password then you can request a Cloud ALM for your organisation using the “Request” button.

Then there is a couple of presentation available. One is a high-level overview presentation and the other one is a value presentation.

Going further below, you will see some customer success stories and then the link that provides you with the list of “Supported Solutions” that we talked about previously.

Going further down, you will see three YouTube videos that describe how you can use Cloud ALM for implementation, operations and service. Below that, there are links that provide more information on how to configure these functionalities in Cloud ALM.

And then we got a Roadmap explorer that provides information on upcoming functionalities in the future.

Then we got links to the Cloud ALM community page, information about services available for Cloud ALM, links to videos, Events and newsletter and finally, we got an admin guide that you can use to configure different types of functionalities in Cloud ALM and then the link to the SAP help portal and some frequently asked questions.

You can access the SAP Cloud ALM support portal here

please check out my YouTube channel if you are interested in clicking here

That’s it for today. If you like this blog, please share it with your friends who might also benefit from it.

If you have any questions, please leave them as a comment and I will respond.

Thank you.

SAP ABAP Technical Architecture

SAP Technical Architecture

Hello everyone,

Welcome back to my blog. In this topic, we are going to discuss the Architecture of an SAP ABAP system.

High-level architecture:

Three layers of SAP Architecture

On a high level, you can divide the architecture of an SAP system into three layers.

Presentation layer – where the users use channels like SAP Logon Pad, SAP Business Client, SAP FIORI, Web browser or Mobile Apps to access an SAP system.

Application layer – This is where the ABAP or JAVA application server of an SAP system is located. The application server is the foundation of any SAP system. It is the engine that receives and processes all the requests and interacts with the Database to retrieve the required information and send it back to the presentation layer.

Database layer – This is where the Database of a system is located.

All software applications that follow the client-server model have these three layers as their basic architectural principle and SAP systems are no exceptions here.

Now let us get into the details of the Components of an ABAP system:

Technical Architecture of an SAP ABAP System

An ABAP system consists of an ABAP Server Central Services instance which in short is known as ASCS and an Application Server instance.

An instance is an administrative unit that contains various components. For example, ASCS is an instance and the application server is another instance.

An ABAP system has only one ASCS instance but it can have multiple Application server instances depending on the expected load on the system. The ASCS and application server instance can be installed on the same host or they can be installed on separate hosts for high availability purposes. An ABAP system has a system identifier, also known as SID and separate instance numbers. SIDs are usually three-letter combinations of alphanumeric characters and instances are two-letter numeric.

For example, the SID of an SAP system can be something like PE0 and the instance number of ASCS can be 00 whereas the instance number of the application server can be 01, 02, or 03 depending on how many application servers are there. The SIDs and instance numbers are assigned during the installation of an SAP system.

Now let us take a look at the Components of SAP ABAP Server Central Services:

ABAP Server Central Services (ASCS)

ASCS consists of a separate start service, a message server and an enqueue server. The start service within the ASCS interacts with the start service that is located in the application servers in order to keep track of the status of the application server within a particular SAP system. For example, let’s assume an SAP system has 3 application servers. Each application server, when it is started, logs on to the ASCS to advise its runtime state. So that the ASCS knows how many of the application servers are on-state and how many of them are off-state.

Additionally, the ASCS contains a message server. The message server enables communication between individual application servers. It also distributes the load if there are multiple application servers available so that not all the requests are handled by just one application server.

Then, Enqueue server is responsible for managing locks. It ensures, that no two transactions or users are trying to update the same field in the same table at the same time. Thus avoiding synchronisation issues. So if I am editing a program that will update a table, the enqueue server will lock that table and releases it back to others once I have finished updating it.

So, in a nutshell, the ASCS doesn’t process any dialogue requests. That means it doesn’t do any calculations or retrieve data from the database or anything like that. But it acts as an administrative unit within the SAP system and manages the application servers beneath it.

Now let us talk about the components of an Application server:

SAP ABAP Application Server

An Application Server consists of components like an ABAP dispatcher, Gateway, Internet Communication Manager, Start service and work processes.

Let’s take a look at these components one by one.

  • ABAP dispatcher – The ABAP dispatcher distributes the work to the work processes depending on the type of request that comes through.
  • Gateway – The Gateway enables the SAP system to communicate with other SAP and non-SAP systems with the help of RFC (Remote Function Call) functionality by using TCP/IP protocol.
  • ICM – ICM is known as Internet Communication Manager which handles HTTPS and SMTP-type requests from the internet. So, depending on the type of request, it is handled by either the ABAP dispatcher or the gateway or the ICM. For example, if the system receives requests from the SAP logon pad then the ABAP dispatcher handles it. If the request comes from a different SAP system through an RFC connection, then it will be handled by the Gateway and if the request comes from webdynpro application or a web browser, then it will be handled by the Internet Communication Manager.
  • Work Processes – Work processes are a bunch of programs that process the different types of requests that come to the SAP system via the ABAP dispatcher. Different types of work processes are Dialog, Update, Batch, Print and Enqueue. For example, if the request is a dialog request then the ABAP dispatcher sends it to dialog work process and so on and so forth.
  • Let’s take a look at the five different work processes in detail
  • Dialog – The Dialog work process deals with all requests that are executed by an active user or program or RFC and HTTP requests. Basically, dialog work processes are involved whenever a request is processed in the front end by the SAP system. For each application server, you need at least to configure two dialog work processes. But you can configure more if required.
  • Update – The update work process is used to update the database. For example, you make a calculation and you need to update the database table with the result. The update work process takes care of updating a particular field in a table in the database. You need to have at least one update work process in an application server
  • Batch – Programs that can be executed in the background without user interaction are known as batch jobs. Time-consuming and resource-intensive calculations are sometimes configured to be run in the background so that it doesn’t interrupt the real-time activities of the users in the front end. You need at least 2 batch work processes in an ABAP system but you can configure more depending on the requirement. For example, if your company need to run a lot of batch programs, then you might need more work processes for Batch.
  • Print – This work process processes and manages all the print requests. For example, the printing of work orders or purchase orders, etc.
  • Enqueue – This work process handles the locks and unlocks of objects. As discussed before in the ASCS component, Locks are an important part of an SAP system that ensures a table or an entry is not updated by two users at the same time. So if someone or a program is executing a transaction, then enqueue work process will lock that particular table so that only one person or program can update it at any given time. This will avoid data inconsistencies in an SAP system. The lock mechanism is widely used by pretty much all the applications that have a need to update the databases, not just SAP applications. And you need this work process in the application server only if you don’t have an ASCS instance. Otherwise, the enqueue server in the ASCS instance will take care of the enqueue processes.

So, on a high level, this is the architecture of an SAP ABAP system.

Hope it was useful. If you have any questions, please leave a comment on the YouTube video and I will reply.

If you like this blog or the YouTube video, please share it with your friends who might find it helpful.

What is SAP Client?

Introduction:

SAP Client Strategy

A client is a separate entity within an SAP system that contains its own master data, transactional data and user profiles.

Master data or business data: Data that is required by the business to perform business operations. E.g. Information about customers, employees, products, etc.

Transactional data: Data that is created and changed on a day-to-day basis due to business operations is known as transactional data. E.g. purchase orders, sales orders, service requests, etc.

User master data: User data of a particular user in an SAP system. E.g. Name, E-mail, Language as well as parameters, authorisation and user groups

What is SAP Client YouTube video by ERP is Easy

All these data are client-specific, meaning the data within a particular client can be read or written only by the assigned client and is protected from other clients.

But there are also client-independent or cross-client changes possible. For E.g. If the source code of the SAP system is changed or a new report is created, that will be client independent which means those changes will affect all clients in that particular SAP system.

Number ranges of SAP clients:

SAP client number ranges from 000 to 999. So, technically you can create up to 1000 clients in any SAP system.

Default clients:

When an SAP system is installed, clients 000 and 001 are automatically created as part of the installation process. Client 000 is known as the golden client or master client. Client 001 is a copy of the golden client 000. Customers usually use client 001 to make further copies to satisfy their requirements. For E.g. A copy of client 001 is made and a new client can be called 100 which can act as a development client where configuration and workbench changes are made.

Multiple clients can be created based on technical and business requirements. For E.g. Development client (to create and test new developments and customizations), the Testing client (to perform testing), the Training client (to offer training to end users), etc.

Change management:

Changes that are created in one client can be transported to another client within the same SAP system or to another client in a different SAP system. A change can be either a configuration change (client-dependent) or a workbench change (cross-client).

Changes are transported using a virtual container called “Transports”. It is one of the most commonly used terms in the SAP ecosystem.

Depending on the project, requirements, size and complexity of the organisation, hundreds or even thousands of transports are moved between clients and SAP systems daily. A system called Change & Transport System (CTS) is used to manage transports

I will write another blog to explain the SAP change management process in detail.

Client copy:

Cloning a client to create a new one is called client copy. A client copy copies user master data, application data (also called master data) and client-specific customizing data across to the new client. There are three ways to perform a client copy.

  1. local client copy – copy a client inside the same SAP system
  2. Remote client copy – copy a client to a different SAP system
  3. Client export/import – This is also to copy a client to a different SAP system. The difference between this and remote client copy is that in the remote client copy method, RFC (Remote Function Call) is used to perform the client copy from the source to the target system. Whereas in the client export/import method, the source client is first exported using a transport and the transport is imported into the target SAP system.

SAP Transactions used for client administration:

SCC1 – Client copy using a transport request

SCC3 – Transaction code SCC3 can be used to monitor the process of client copy that is running in the background or check the log of the front-end process.

SCC4 – Transaction that is used to either allow or disallow modifications to happen in a client

SCC5 – This transaction is used to delete a client

SCC7 – Used to perform post-processing after a new client has been imported into the target system

SCC8 – Used to perform client export

SCC9 – Used for a remote client copy

SCCL – Used for a local client copy

Thank you for reading my blog. Hope this was helpful. If you have any questions, please leave a comment on my YouTube video and I will get back to you.

What is SAP Cloud Foundry, SAP Neo & SAP Kyma (SAP BTP)?

ERPisEasy YouTube Channel

Hello Friends,

Welcome back to my blog!

SAP has been projecting BTP (Business Technology Platform) for a while now and has been trying to turn it into a leader in the PaaS space. As a result, a lot of organisations globally have adopted SAP BTP and the adoption rate continues to grow especially among the already existing SAP customers.

As you might know, SAP BTP offers different types of services. One of the most commonly used services in BTP is application development. And that is where SAP Cloud Foundry, SAP Neo and SAP Kyma come into the picture.

In this blog, we are going to discuss what is SAP Cloud Foundry, SAP Neo and SAP Kyma and the difference between them.

If you are interested in learning about the basics of SAP BTP, then please check out my previous blog here.

Getting back to the topic, firstly, what is SAP Cloud Foundry?

SAP Cloud Foundry (picture from public resource)

Cloud Foundry is an open-source platform that is governed by Cloud Foundry Foundation. It is not proprietary to SAP; anyone can download it and use it for free in their own infrastructure. SAP BTP also provides Cloud Foundry as a service and to use it will cost you money because it is hosted on SAP BTP and you need to pay for the service provided by SAP. Cloud Foundry is offered as a service by so many other cloud providers as well like Amazon Web Services, MS Azure, GCP, IBM, etc.

So now the question is, what is the purpose of Cloud Foundry? You can use cloud foundry to build, deploy and run applications that are built using different programming languages.

Before Cloud Foundry, if you have to build multiple applications, you need to first install different types of runtimes, code editors, development kits, databases, integrations, authentication, etc. It was complex and developers were spending a lot of time on administration tasks instead of concentrating on developing applications.

But Cloud Foundry offers runtimes, business services, programming languages, libraries and services all in one place. So, the developers can concentrate on coding while the admin tasks are taken care of by the Cloud Foundry.

Cloud Foundry supports different types of programming languages like Java, Node.js, Go, PHP, Python, .NET Core and Staticfile.

It can be hosted on its own internal infrastructure or on cloud infrastructure offered by companies like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, OpenStack, etc.

Now, in the SAP context, developers can use the Cloud Foundry runtime service in SAP BTP to build new applications or extend functionalities of an existing SAP on-premise or Cloud application. They can use the API library offered by BTP to integrate their applications with SAP and non-SAP applications.

SAP BTP Neo runtime service:

SAP Neo is also a runtime service available in SAP BTP, similar to Cloud Foundry, but was developed by SAP and it is not open source.

Using Neo, developers can create HTML5, Java and SAP HANA extended application services (SAP HANA XS). It doesn’t allow a “bring your own language” offering as Cloud Foundry does and it can only be hosted on SAP infrastructure and not others. The types of programming language one can use in Neo is also limited. Hence when compared, Cloud Foundry is a better runtime environment for developers to build their applications. SAP is also phasing out the Neo environment, so we can safely say the future is Cloud Foundry.

Difference between SAP Cloud Foundry and SAP Neo

SAP Cloud FoundrySAP Neo
Programming languages that are supportedJava, Node.js, Go, PHP, Python, .NET Core and Staticfile.HTML5, Java and SAP HANA extended application services (SAP HANA XS)
Bring your own programming language.On-premise or on any cloud infrastructureOnly on SAP infrastructure
HostingYesNo
Open SourceYesSAP Proprietary

What is SAP Kyma?

If we need to talk about Kyma, then first we need to talk about Kubernetes and containers.

So, let’s go backwards and start with the container first.

What is a Container?

Traditional deployment era:

Sometime back, when the container concept was not available, businesses used physical servers to run their applications. In a physical server, there’s no mechanism to define the resource boundaries for the apps, which led to problems with resource allocation. For instance, if numerous apps are running on a physical server, there may be times when one application uses up the majority of the resources, which lowers the performance of the other applications. Running each application on a different physical server would be a fix for this. However, due to resource underutilization and the high cost of maintaining numerous physical servers, this could not scale.

Virtualized deployment era:

Later on, virtualization was introduced as a fix. It enables you to utilise the CPU of a single physical server to operate numerous Virtual Machines (VMs). Because the information of one application cannot be freely accessible by another application, virtualization enables applications to be segregated between VMs and offers a level of security.

Applications can be added or changed simply, hardware costs are decreased, and virtualization improves resource usage on physical servers and scalability. A group of physical resources can be displayed as a collection of reusable virtual computers thanks to virtualization.

On top of the virtualized hardware, each VM functions as a complete machine running all of its parts, including its own operating system. So, there was still some level of complexity involved as the applications that are developed on a VM were tied to the operating system the VM is running on.

Container deployment:

Then comes the container era. While containers and virtual machines (VMs) are similar, the OS can be shared among the apps thanks to their flexible isolation rules. Containers are therefore seen as lightweight and less complex to run when compared to VMs. Similar to a VM, a container has its own filesystem, the share of CPU, memory, process space, and more. As they are decoupled from the underlying infrastructure, they are portable across clouds and OS distributions.

Containers have become popular because they provide these extra benefits.

What is Kubernetes?

Applications can be bundled and run effectively using containers. You must manage the containers that run the applications in a production environment to prevent downtime. For instance, another container needs to start if one goes down. Wouldn’t it be simpler if software handled this behaviour?

You have a framework to execute distributed systems robustly thanks to Kubernetes. It handles application scaling and failover, offers deployment patterns, and more.

Now back to Kyma. SAP BTP Kyma is a fully managed Kubernetes runtime that is based on an open-source project.

SAP Kyma, Kubernetes and Containers

We now know that containers can help build and run applications on any platform. If there are multiple containers, then Kubernetes can help manage those containers to provide scalability and failover services.

But what if the applications inside the containers need to communicate with other applications in the outside world? That is where Kyma comes into the picture. It is an extra integration tissue on top of the Kubernetes that helps us do both, expose the APIs from the containers so that external applications can integrate and as well as allows the applications inside the containers to consume APIs and events from other applications.

On top of facilitating integration, It also provides additional services like security, monitoring, and tracing.

To summarise,

  • You build software applications using either Cloud Foundry or SAP Neo
  • The applications you built can be placed inside a container or multiple containers
  • Containers are managed by Kubernetes runtime
  • Kyma provides an additional integration layer on top of Kubernetes that allows your apps inside the containers to integrate with the outside world

Please check out my YouTube channel as well and if you have any questions, please leave a comment and I will respond to you.

What is SAP BTP | Business Technology Platform?

Hello friends, welcome to my blog.

In this post, we are going to discuss the SAP Business Technology Platform or also known as SAP BTP.

Previously, it used to be called SAP Cloud Platform. As of March 2021, SAP changed its name to SAP BTP.

Introduction:

SAP BTP is a platform that offers a variety of solutions such as database, data warehouse, analytics, integration and programming tools. The customers can make use of this platform to satisfy their business requirements without the complexity of building & maintaining the infrastructure typically associated with developing and launching these applications.

It is basically a Platform as a Service (PaaS).

Let’s take a quick look at the difference between PaaS, SaaS, IaaS and On-premise.

Difference between PaaS, Saas, Iaas & On-premise

In Platform as a Service, the applications and data are managed by the user whereas everything else that lies underneath is managed by the service provider.

For example, let’s say that you would like to build your own web application that is integrated with SAP S/4HANA. When you use middleware such as SAP BTP, all you need to do is just write the code to build your application. Other things that are required to build and run your code such as development tools, database, integration APIs, network, user management, server, OS, storage are managed by SAP. The advantage of this model is you can spend your time effectively concentrating on building the application rather than managing the software and hardware that lies underneath.

Some examples of PaaS are SAP BTP, AWS Elastic Beanstalk, OpenShift.

Software as a Service:

When it comes to Software as a Service, everything is managed by the service provider including the application. The user just consumes the functionalities to perform their day-to-day operations.

Examples of SaaS are Dropbox, Google Drive, Gmail, Salesforce, SAP SuccessFactors, etc.

Infrastructure as a Service:

They are cloud-based services where the user pay as they go for services such as storage, networking and virtualisation but other things such as the OS, middleware, data and application are managed by the user.

Examples of IaaS are Amazon AWS, Rackspace, Google Computing Engine, etc.

On-premise:

In the on-premise model, the user manages everything. The software is installed on a server that is hosted in the same building as the business.

Now let’s a look at what SAP BTP has got to offer.

Image source: SAP. All rights reserved by SAP
  1. Database & Data Management
  2. Analytics
  3. Application Development & Integration
  4. Intelligent Technologies

Database & Data Management

As the name implies, this category contains database and data management solutions. As you may know, SAP offers different types of Databases such as SAP HANA, SAP HANA Cloud (cloud version of the HANA DB) and SAP IQ. It also offers solutions to manage master data across the entire organisation.

Image source: SAP. All rights reserved by SAP

The above picture shows the solutions that are offered as part of the Database & Data Management solution under BTP. You can find more info regarding this project in the following link https://www.sap.com/australia/products/database-data-management.html

Analytics

Image source: SAP. All rights reserved by SAP

Analytics is really important to any organisation. Because Analytics is what helps you to get transparency behind what is going on in the organisation. Whether it is finance, procurement, employee information, demand, supply chain etc. all those business-critical KPIs can be hooked on to any of these analytics tools and it will present you with information in a readable way and let you know what exactly is happening in your organisation.

You can receive more information regarding the solutions that are offered as part of the analytics in the following link https://www.sap.com/australia/products/analytics.html

Application Development & Integration

Image source: SAP. All rights reserved by SAP

A lot of customers use SAP BTP mainly for the purpose of integration and application development. When it comes to integration, BTP offers pre-built integration libraries and APIs that enable the customers to easily integrate their SAP systems with other SAP systems, as well as with third-party applications.

You can get more information regarding SAP Integration Suite using the following link https://www.sap.com/australia/products/integration-suite.html

Extension Suite

An extension is nothing but a standalone web application that can integrate with any SAP product to enhance its functionality and serve an end-to-end business process requirement.

Say, for example, my organisation has a requirement for a special tool that is required for recruiting new employees. I can write code and develop that new tool on SAP BTP and integrate it with SAP S/4HANA or SAP SuccessFactors to provide the users with a seamless end-to-end business process execution.

SAP BTP offers tools & services to develop & integrate extension tools with other SAP products.

More information about SAP’s extension suite is available in the following link https://www.sap.com/australia/products/extension-suite.html

Intelligent Technologies

Image source: SAP. All rights reserved by SAP

Intelligent Technologies contain solutions like the Internet of Things, Edge Services, Intelligent Robotic Process Automation, conversational AI and AI Business Services.

Customers can make use of these functionalities and integrate them with their SAP products.

Okay, what are some of the use cases of intelligent technologies?

If you take the Internet of Things, for example, it can be used for a variety of purposes. Like logistics companies can monitor all their trucks and collect data like their speed, braking pattern, how much break does a driver take, what route is economical, what parts of the trucks must be changed and when they must be changed, when must a truck be serviced and so much more.

Robotic process automation technology helps you identify repeatable tasks and enables you to automate them.

Conversational AI technologies are useful for building intelligent chatbots. I mentioned intelligent chatbots because they use Artificial Intelligence technology and hence they are capable of learning and adjusting their responses over a period of time.

Now using BTP, you can subscribe to any of these services instead of building those applications by yourself from scratch.

So are there any free trials available for SAP BTP?

The answer is yes, SAP offers a free tier model with limited access to BTP services. A credit card is required to create a pay-as-you-go account. But the credit card will not be charged. Once you reach the limit of a free tier service plan, you will be notified. At that time, you can choose to update from a free tier to a paid service plan. Only after you update to a paid service plan will you be charged for additional usage. The cost will depend on the type of service you subscribe to.

You can find that information in the following link https://store.sap.com/dcp/en/product/display-9999951781_live_v1/SAP Business Technology Platform#pricing

How can you learn SAP BTP?

YouTube channel – SAP HANA Academy – Developer Onboarding

SAP Community – https://community.sap.com/topics/business-technology-platform

OpenSAP – https://open.sap.com/courses/btp1

SAp training & certification – https://training.sap.com/content/sap-training-technology

Other useful links

https://www.sap.com/australia/products/business-technology-platform.html

https://community.sap.com/topics/business-technology-platform

https://developers.sap.com/topics/business-technology-platform.html

https://help.sap.com/products/BTP/65de2977205c403bbc107264b8eccf4b/6a2c1ab5a31b4ed9a2ce17a5329e1dd8.html

Hope you got some useful information from this blog. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment here in the blog or on the YouTube video. I try my best to answer all the comments. Thank you.

What is SAP SuccessFactors?

SuccessFactors is SAP’s cloud-based, HR software. It is offered on a SaaS (Software as a service) model, which means the customers pay a subscription fee to gain access to the software that is hosted by SAP.

It was founded by Lars Dalgaard in 2001 and was acquired by SAP in 2011.

SuccessFactors is one of the most commonly used HR software in the world. According to SAP, it is used by more than 12,000 customers in 200+ countries around the world. It has also got more than 191 million users. The reason for its popularity is it offers a rich variety of functionalities for organisations to manage the end-to-end HR business processes of their employees efficiently.

It competes with the likes of Workday, Oracle, Ceridian, Bamboo HR, PeopleStrong, etc.

SuccessFactors can be integrated with other SAP applications like S/4HANA and as well as with third-party applications like Oracle, Salesforce using either SAP BTP (Business Technology Platform) or MuleSoft.

Let’s take a look at the different types of functionalities that are offered by SAP SuccessFactors.

The functionalities are divided into three main categories.

  1. Core HR
  2. Talent Management
  3. Reporting & Analytics

Modules under core HR are

  • SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central
  • SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central Payroll

Modules under Talent Management are

  • Performance & Goals
  • Compensation
  • Recruiting
  • Onboarding
  • Learning
  • Succession & Development

And there is Reporting & Analytics which is not further divided into sub-categories.

Let’s take a look at the core HR modules in SuccessFactors

  • SuccessFactors Employee Central – There are some core HR activities that organisations must take care of irrespective of their size. Those activities include things like time & attendance management, document management, employee master data management and HR document management. SuccessFactors employee central offers exactly this.
  • SuccessFactors Employee Central Payroll – This module is used to process payroll for the employees of an organisation. It offers functionalities like automated payroll calculation, proactive payroll information, payroll self-service and automated payroll management.

Let’s take a look at the Talent Management modules

  • Performance & Goals – This module helps organisations align their strategy and goals, improve employee performance through ongoing coaching and feedback, and recognise top talent. IT offers functionalities like employee goal management, continuous performance management, 360-degree feedback & evaluations and guided action planning.
  • Compensation Management – Managing compensations for employees can be complex, especially for organisations with hundreds of thousands of employees. This module in SuccessFactors helps companies to build & manage strategic compensation programmes that align with the needs of their employees, the company and as per their budget. It offers functionalities like guided compensation planning, continuous rewards and personalised recognition programmes.
  • Recruiting – Identifying the right talent is really important for any organisation. Nowadays, organisations are adopting modern recruiting techniques like using social media platforms, virtual reality communications, applicant tracking systems, etc. SuccessFactors recruiting module helps organisations to use these types of modern ways to recruit top talents. It included functionalities like engaging candidate experiences, global & diverse talent sourcing, candidate relationship management and comprehensive applications management.
  • Onboarding – Once the employees are recruited, organisations require a robust onboarding process to onboard them seamlessly. Not just onboarding but SuccessFactors Onboarding module offers functionalities for offboarding, cross-boarding and rehire programs as well.
  • Learning – The learning module in SuccessFactors provides innovative capabilities that can help organisations create a culture of continuous learning with a corporate learning management system (LMS). It offers a modern and engaging learning experience, extended enterprise learning and automated compliance training capabilities.
  • Succession & Development – This module can help organisations develop the talent they need to achieve business goals while providing visibility and planning capabilities to support their future growth. It offers capabilities like skills-based development planning, skills & leadership development, talent reviews & collaboration tools.

Reporting & Analytics

Analytics is very important to clearly understand the hidden metrics and insights within the data. The analytics solution within SAP SuccessFactors helps organisations to improve business decisions with trusted intelligence. Using integrated data from multiple business systems, they can investigate trends in hiring, diversity, turnover, and performance, see how investments in people impact their business results, and share trends and insights with compelling visualisations.

SAP SuccessFactors offers three different types of analytics solutions. They are

  1. Workforce analytics
  2. Workforce planning and
  3. Enterprise analytics

How can you learn SAP SuccessFactors?

  • SAP SuccessFactors Community – This is a one-stop shop for SAP SuccessFactors. Here you can learn about different modules, functionalities, upcoming capabilities, release readiness, events, webinars, tutorials, blogs and opportunities to collaborate with other customers and influencers. You will require an “S” user-id to log in to the SuccessFactors community. https://community.successfactors.com/
  • OpenSAP courses – OpenSAP is a free platform owned by SAP. They offer free courses for everyone about various SAP products and business processes including SuccessFactors. Anyone can register for free and start consuming the courses. https://open.sap.com/courses?q=successfactors
  • SAP Training & Certification – This is SAP’s official training & certification shop. SAP offers paid training and certifications for a variety of its products through this platform. Training is available as both onsite & remote learning methods. https://training.sap.com/content/sap-successfactors-hr-training-and-certification

What type of jobs can you get once you learn SuccessFactors?

Just like a lot of SAP applications, there are two types of jobs when it comes to SuccessFactors.

  1. Enduser – An end-user is someone who uses the SuccessFactors application to perform their day-to-day work. For example, roles like HR recruiters, HR administrators, payroll admins, managers, employees all use SuccessFactors for different purposes. So you can become an HR consultant by learning HR business processes and learning SuccessFactors along with that will help you get a job in a company that uses SAP SuccessFactors for their HR operations.
  2. SuccessFactors consultant – When organisations receive access to a brand new SuccessFactors system, they must be configured as per the organisation’s requirement. Configuration includes business flow setup, importing master data, rules setup, parameters setup and setting up of integration between SuccessFactors and other systems. A SuccessFactors consultant will perform these types of activities.

Hope you got some value out of this blog. If you have any questions or comments, please send me an email or leave a comment on the YouTube video. I will try my best to get back to you.

Basics of SAP – Five most important elements

Dear friends,

When it comes to my blog and the YouTube channel, the majority of my audience are students. They are either early in the process of learning SAP or have basic knowledge about SAP and are looking to expand on it.

Either way, I receive a lot of questions about some of the basic aspects of SAP. So I thought I will write a blog about it.

Whenever I want to teach someone about SAP, I start with the below five aspects which I consider to be important and at the same time covers pretty much all the basics that will help them kickstart their SAP career.

  1. Overview of SAP
  2. Products offered by SAP
  3. Types of jobs in SAP
  4. How can you learn SAP
  5. Free trials offered by SAP

Let’s get started with an overview of SAP

  • SAP stands for Systems, Applications & Products in data processing
  • It is the third-biggest software company in the world after Microsoft and Oracle (please don’t confuse software companies with technology companies)
  • It was founded by five ex-IBM employees. They were working on an enterprise resource planning software project only to be told by IBM that it’s no longer required. So, rather than abandoning the project, they decided to leave IBM and start a company on their own called S.A.P.
  • Christian Klein is the CEO and member of the Executive Board of SAP
  • As of 2020, SAP’s revenue was 27 Billion Euros
  • They employ 100,000 people in more than 130 countries including 20 SAP Labs, which are development centres
  • SAP serves 440,000 customers in 180 countries around the world and has a market share of 22% of the global ERP market, while Oracle, which is their closest rival in this space has a market share of 11%.
  • Some of the stats about SAP helps us to realise how crucial they are when it comes to running big organisations around the world. SAP claims, 77% of all business transactions worldwide touch an SAP system. For example, SAP’s customers produce 78% of the world’s food products and 82% of the world’s medical devices. Some of the world’s biggest and successful organisations such as Microsoft, Apple, Walmart, Nestle, Coca-Cola, DHL, Airbus, BMW, Reliance, and many such huge conglomerates run SAP to perform their day to day operations.

Now let’s move on to the type of products that are offered by SAP

SAP offers so many different types of products. Some of them are developed by themselves over the years and some of them were acquired from other companies.

You can find the list of all the products they offer in the following link https://www.sap.com/australia/products-a-z.html

I am not going to talk about each and every product in this blog as it is impossible to do so but let’s take a look at the five most commonly used business processes by an organisation and what type of SAP products are available to cover those five business process.

  • ERP & Finance – It covers all the required software to run an enterprise.
  • SAP S/4HANA
  • Finance
  • Accounting & Financial Close
  • Treasury Management
  • Accounts receivables, billing & revenue management
  • Governance, risk, compliance and cybersecurity

I have made a video about S/4HANA on my YouTube channel before if you are interested in learning more about it

  • CRM & Customer Experience – This category consists of software that can be used to provide support and manage customer experience
  • Customer data cloud
  • Marketing cloud
  • Commerce cloud
  • Sales cloud
  • Service cloud

All the above-mentioned products fall into the category called SAP C4HANA. I have made a video about it on my YouTube channel as well if you are interested in learning more about C4HANA

  • The third business process is spend management – Spend management is basically about managing all the expenses of a company. A company spends money on various things and SAP offers different types of products or functionalities that can be used to manage these various aspects where a company spends its money on.
  • Supplier management
  • Souricing & contracts
  • Procurement
  • Invoices & payments
  • External workforce & services
  • Travel & expenses
  • The fourth business process is Supply Chain Management or SCM in short. I have previously made a video about SCM. It is one of the most famous videos on my YouTube channel. It has got some great feedback so check it out if you are interested in learning more about SAP SCM. It basically contains products that help manage the end to end supply chain of an organisation
  • Supply chain planning
  • Supply chain logistics
  • Manufacturing
  • Product lifecycle management
  • Enterprise asset management
  • Transport management
  • Extended warehouse management
  • The fifth business process is Human Capital Management. It is all about managing employee operations, enabling and improving them.
  • Employee experience management
  • HR & Payroll
  • Talent management
  • HR analytics and workforce planning

These are the five main business processes and the products associated with them that are widely used by organisations.

On top of these products, another important category of products we should remember is the Business Technology Platform.

It is the glue that enables the integration between all these multiple products and offers a seamless end-to-end business operation for the organisations.

  • Database & data management
  • Application development & integration
  • Analytics
  • Intelligent technologies

Types of jobs SAP jobs

There are different types of roles available in the SAP ecosystems. Let’s take a quick look at some of the most common ones.

  1. End-user – An end-user is someone who specialises in a particular business process area like finance, procurement, sales, marketing and uses the SAP software on a day-to-day basis to perform their day job. For example, you could be a finance officer in a company. Your responsibilities in the job would include things like processing invoices, preparing balance sheets, managing records & receipts, reconciling daily, monthly and yearly transactions and much more. In order to perform these activities, as an end-user, you will use SAP’s ECC or S/4HANA product. More specifically, you will be using the FICO module within SAP ECC or the S/4HANA system. Being an end-user is a great way to learn SAP. Especially if you are just starting out your career.
  2. Functional consultant – A functional consultant is someone who configures the SAP system as per the company’s requirements. All SAP systems must be configured before they can be used productively. Configuring an SAP system involves activities like creating master data, setting up rules and business process flows. Additional activities of a functional consultant would involve writing functional and technical specs, performing testing, providing support and training end-users. If you are already an end-user of an SAP system, becoming a functional consultant can be the next logical step forward.
  3. Technical consultant – A technical consultant is someone who installs, upgrades, integrates, maintain and operate SAP systems from a technical perspective. They are also used to be called Basis consultants. Technical SAP consultants should have sound knowledge of operating systems, databases, networks, servers, and SAP technical settings.
  4. Developer – If you are good at programming then you can become an SAP developer by learning the ABAP programming language. ABAP is SAP’s native programming language in which all SAP’s on-premise systems are developed. SAP also uses a variety of other programming languages like JAVA, HTML5, mobile development languages, using which you can build applications that can be integrated with SAP products on the SAP Business Technology Platform.
  5. Other roles – On top of the above-mentioned roles, there are so many other types of SAP roles available such as testers, test managers, security consultants, business architects, solution architects, project managers, trainers and support personnel.

The type of role you choose should depend on the type of education/skills/experience you already possess or planning to pursue.

Talking about training, now let’s take a look at the various ways through which you can learn SAP.

How can you learn SAP?

One thing a lot of people ask is how to learn SAP or what type of SAP course should I do?

I would start with a typical answer of “It depends”. It frustrates a lot of people, but to be honest, SAP is a vast subject. It contains hundreds of different types of products and thousands of submodules within them. It is really hard to suggest just one course or product in SAP that you should learn.

My recommendation is always to ask yourself the question of what exactly is your interest? Are you good at Finance, or do you like supply chain management, or do you like marketing, sales or are you a technical person who likes to work with networks, servers and databases?

Or are you someone who got no idea what you actually like? Then you got some research to do in order to understand what you might be actually interested in before pursuing that area.

Once you have decided on your area, you can use the below-mentioned resources to start learning.

  • Open SAP coursesopen.sap.com is a free online academy established by SAP. They conduct online tutorials on various topics related to SAP products and business processes. Their courses are designed in a way to suit everyone from a beginner to an experienced professional. You also get an opportunity to take part in an online exam and receive a certificate once you pass it.
  • SAP.com – Now this might look pretty straight forward but a lot of people are not aware that SAP’s website has got a lot of information about each and every product they offer. The following link contains a list of all SAP products arranged in alphabetical order. https://www.sap.com/products-a-z.html Click on the product that you are interested in and you will find information like key benefits, capabilities and that particular product’s brochure.
  • SAP Help Portal – SAP Help Portal is the place where you can find product documentation, learning journeys and much more. Product documentation is free and can be accessed by anyone but in order to consume the learning journeys, you will require a learning hub subscription. I have provided more info about the Learning Hub in the below section.
  • SAP Communities – As the name implies, it is an online community for all topics related to SAP. It has more than 3 Million users. They have posted more than a hundred and thirty thousand blogs and the community has collectively answered more than one million questions. On top of this, it contains webinars, tutorials and invitations for upcoming SAP events. It is free for anyone to register.
  • YouTube videos & Blogs – There are plenty of YouTube channels and blogs that you can make use of to learn about SAP and its products. SAP themselves have got some YouTube channels where they make content specifically for students. The channel names are SAP, SAP TV, SAP Technology, SAP Developers, SAP HANA Academy, Service & Support SAP, SAP Ariba, SAP FieldGlass and many more. On top of this, of course, there are so many other YouTube channels and blogs created by individuals like me who provide learning content. These are all free and I always recommend students to start learning using freely available content first before paying money for any type of course or tutorials.
  • SAP Learning Hub – SAP Learning Hub offers online learning content that can be used to prepare for SAP certification exams. The learning journeys are tailored specifically to your role and learning goals, so it is suitable for everyone irrespective of whether you are a student or an experienced professional. As I mentioned before, you need to subscribe to one of the learning hub editions in order to access it. The different types of editions are discovery edition which is free for 14days, professional edition, solution edition, business edition and student edition.
  • SAP Training & Certification Shop – This is the SAP official training and certification centre. SAP offers training and certification exams both online and in person. SAP official training and certifications have got a great reputation worldwide. My recommended path is to learn as much as you can using the freely availably resources first. Choose an area of SAP where you would like to further pursue. Then subscribe to one of the learning hub subscriptions to enrol in a proper SAP course before doing the certification in that chosen area.
  • SAP Books – There are hundreds of books about SAP that are published by both SAP themselves and as well as reputed consultants/subject matter experts around the world. Once again, before purchasing any book, choose an area you would like to concentrate in, then learn as much as possible in that area using the freely available resources before purchasing any books. SAP also has got an official publication partner called SAP Press. It contains a variety of books starting from the introduction to deep diving into many of the complex SAP topics.

Finally, free SAP trials

Theoretical learning is good but there is no replacement for practical experience. Especially when you are a student and looking to get some hands-on experience. When you register for any SAP course using the above-mentioned SAP training and certification shop, you will receive free access to the respective SAP software that you are learning about.

Additionally, SAP offers free trials for pretty much all of their software. For some, they offer a 14-day trial and for some, they offer a three month trial period. If it is on-premise software, you can download and install it on a small server or a powerful laptop/desktop. If it is a cloud-based software like Ariba, SuccessFactors, then you can just access them using your internet browser.

You can learn more about SAP free trials by clicking the link here

Hopefully, this gives you enough information about some of the most important elements when it comes to getting started with SAP.

If you have any questions or feedback, please leave a comment below.

Free and paid training courses available for SAP SCM (Supply Chain Management)

Hello Friends,

(Please note, this blog post is intended for students or someone who is looking to take their first step in the SAP SCM world)

I made a YouTube video about SAP SCM in February 2021. It received a lot of comments and most of them were seeking guidance about what training courses they should choose, where to find them, how much would they cost and whether there are any free options available, etc.

I am hoping to address these questions in this blog. I have also made a video about it which you can check out below.

SAP Supply Chain Management end-to-end business process

To start with, there is one common misconception about SAP SCM, where people assume it as one single product.

Supply Chain Management, in general, itself is a vast subject that contains multiple business process steps and complex scenarios. The steps that are involved in supply chain management can be described below

Design –> Plan –> Procure –> Manufacture –> Sell –> Deliver –> Operate –> Project management

In the YouTube video, I have provided a real-world example and how these process steps can be mapped to different stages of the example.

Now back to the process steps, SAP offers multiple products that can be associated with every one of the steps in end-to-end supply chain management.

While it is important to learn the end-to-end business process of supply chain management on a high level, it is impossible for anyone to learn all the SAP products that come under the SCM category, let alone become an expert in all of them.

So the generic advice is to get a high-level overview of the end-to-end SCM business processes. Then choose a particular process step that you might be interested in, and learn the SAP product that is associated with that particular process step. This would be a good learning strategy to take the first step into the ever-complex world of SCM.

SAP SCM learning pathway

  • Learn the basics using the freely available resources – e.g. YouTube videos, blogs, online tutorials, articles and probably books that are not very expensive.
  • Choose a particular category or process step you might be interested in – e.g. Procurement, Extended Warehouse Management, Transport Management, etc.
  • Invest in a good SAP course – Enroll in an SAP course related to the category you chose in the previous step
  • Get certified – Take an exam and get SAP certified
  • Look for internships/graduate positions/fresher roles – There are tonnes of logistics and supply chain management companies in the world that uses SAP software to perform their operations. Apply for an entry level role or reach out to people in those companies to enquire about internships. Once you get the foot in the door, it will be easy to learn further and advance your career.
  • Gain experience, learn more, repeat

This might sound too simplistic but this is exactly how I started my career 10 years back.

Now, what are some of the resources both free and paid ones that are offered by SAP that you can use for learning purposes?

NameDescriptionMethodLink
OpenSAPFree online courses that are offered directly by SAPFreehttps://open.sap.com/
SAP CommunitiesBlogs, webinars, events, ask questions and receive guidanceFreehttps://community.sap.com/
SAP Help PortalProduct documents, Learning journeysProducts documents are free but learning journeys will require a learning hub subscriptionhttps://help.sap.com/viewer/index
SAP Learning HubLearning resources specific to roles & skill levelPaid – different subscription levelhttps://training.sap.com/learninghub
SAP Training & Certification ShopSAP’s official training & certification shopPaidhttps://training.sap.com/

Hopefully, this will give you some useful information about the learning materials and courses available for SAP SCM.

If you have any questions, please feel free to post them in the comment section. I will try to answer them.

Wishing you all the best!

What is SAP S/4HANA?

Introduction:

If you have been following SAP in recent years, you would have definitely come across the word “SAP S/4HANA”. S/4HANA stands for Suite on HANA.

It is SAP’s next-generation ERP software that comprises simplified architecture, lean functionalities, improved user experience and incorporates advanced technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. It runs only on the SAP HANA database and can be hosted both, on-premise and in the cloud.

Checkout my YouTube video about SAP S/4HANA

Architecture:

SAP S/4HANA Architecture

S/4HANA’s architecture is quite complicated and involves a lot of moving parts. There are books that are dedicated specifically to S/4HANA’s architecture. I am not going to take a deep dive but let’s take a quick look at each component and its purpose in this section.

  • SAP WebDispatcher – WebDispatcher is the software switch that lies between the internet and your SAP system. When an end-user sends an HTTPS request, it first hits the WebDispatcher which then decides whether to accept or reject the request. When it accepts a connection, it balances the load to ensure an even distribution across the servers. SAP Web Dispatcher, therefore, contributes to security and also balances the load in your SAP system.
  • SAP FIORI – SAP FIORI is the presentation layer for S/4HANA. According to SAP, “SAP FIORI is the design language that brings great user experiences to enterprise applications”. Users can still access the S/4HANA system using SAPGUI but it is mostly reserved for administration and compatibility reasons. Moreover, utilising FIORI apps is a must in order to take full advantage of S/4HANA functionalities such as embedded analytics and robotic process automation.
  • SAP Gateway – As the name implies, SAP Gateway lets you connect devices, environments and platforms to SAP systems. It uses Open Data Protocol (OData) for communication which means you can use any programming language or model to connect to SAP and non-SAP applications using the Gateway. S/4HANA uses Gateway and OData services to translate business data from the database and present it using FIORI apps.
  • Application engine – S/4HANA’s application engine contains a simplified data model. There are no more aggregates and indices required, as a result, the number of tables required to perform day to day business operations is reduced. As a result, the memory footprint is drastically reduced as well. S/4HANA can perform both OLAP and OLTP transactions and there is a clear seperation of master data and transactional data.
  • CDS views – CDS stands for Core Data Services. It is also known as the code pushdown model. This means some of the resource-intensive calculations are pushed down to the database layer, which takes the load out of the application server thus providing the best possible performance. CDS also offers capabilities beyond the traditional data modelling tools, including support for conceptual modelling and relationship definitions, built-in functions, and extensions.
  • SAP HANA – S/4HANA only runs on the SAP HANA database. It is SAP’s in-memory, column-oriented, relational database management system that combines OLTP (Online Transaction Processing) and OLAP (Online Analytical Processing) into a single system. OLTP is basically about capturing, storing and processing data from transactions whereas OLAP is about analytics, processing complex queries to analyse aggregated historical data from OLTP systems. Storing data in main memory rather than on disk provides faster data access, faster querying and processing hence offering better performance than a non-in-memory database.

Now let’s take a look at the evolution of SAP S/4HANA

Evolution of SAP S/4HANA
  • SAP ECC – ECC is the predecessor of S/4HANA. It’s latest enhancement pack version is 8 and it can run on multiple databases such as MS SQL Server, Oracle, DB2, Max DB and Sybase.
  • Suite on HANA – In 2011, SAP introduced it’s in-memory database called HANA. From enhancement pack 7, ECC got the capability to run on HANA. Even though technically it was able to run on HANA database, it’s functionalities were not optimised to take advantage of the in-memory capabilities of the HANA database.
  • Simple Finance – In 2015, SAP introduced Simple Finance and the first version was called 1503. It is an add-on that sits on top of the ECC system. The ECC system must at least have an enhancement pack version of 7 as a requirement for the add-on to be installed. The add-on contained the core finance functionalities of ECC and the code was optimised to take full advantage of the HANA’s in-memory capabilities. But other functionalities in ECC remained the same and were not optimised.
  • SAP S/4HANA – In November 2015, SAP released the fully optimised Suite for HANA application called S/4HANA. The initial version of 1511 contained only some core functionalities. More functionalities and advanced technologies were added during future releases. By the time of writing this blog, the current version was release 2020. All the modules available in S/4HANA are optimised to take full advantage of in-memory capabilities of HANA database and FIORI user experience.

S/4HANA modules:

S/4HANA consists of modules such as Sales & Marketing, Finance, Manufacturing, Supply Chain, Professional Services, Asset Management, R&D / Engineering, Sourcing & Procurement and Human Resources.

It offers more than 30 Industry Solutions. Industry Solutions are addon’s that provide a tailored system with industry-specific business processes for an organisation. It includes categories such as Energy & Natural resources, Service Industries, Consumer Industries, Discrete Industries, Financial Services and Public Services. Please note, not all the industry solutions are available in the S/4HANA Essential Edition (public cloud) yet.

S/4HANA releases:

Every year, a new release of S/4HANA is released with new functionalities and bug fixes. The releases follow a naming convention of four numbers, where the first two numbers represent the year and the last two numbers represent the month. For example, S/4HANA 1610 was released in October 2016 and S/4HANA 1709 was released in September 2017, so on and so forth. From 2020, a new nomenclature was introduced where the information about the month is not added in the name of the release. For example, the latest S/4HANA release is called S/4HANA 2020 and the one that will be released in 2021 will be called S/4HANA 2021 regardless of which month, it is released.

Difference between S/4HANA and ECC:

So how is S/4HANA different from SAP ECC? Well, it is a huge topic and might require a book of its own, but below are some of the key differences.

  • While SAP ECC can run on multiple databases such as Oracle, SQL server, DB2, HANA, Max-DB; S/4HANA can run only on SAP’s HANA database. S/4HANA has been rewritten in a way to take full advantage of HANA’s in-memory capability. Hence S/4HANA is faster than its predecessors when it comes to performing certain operations
  • S/4HANA comes in different versions such as S/4HANA any-premise (previously known as on-premise), S/4HANA Essential edition (previously known as S/4HANA public cloud) and S/4HANA Extended edition (previously known as single tenant edition). SAP ECC doesn’t have a pure cloud version but can be hosted on one of the hyperscalers such as AWS and Azure on a HANA DB.
  • Some of the functionalities that were available in SAP ECC were removed in S/4HANA since there is a cloud product available as an alternative for those functionalities. For example, payroll is not available in S/4HANA as customers can choose to run payroll using SuccessFactors’s employee central (EC) payroll instead. As a result, redundant functionalities and database tables has been removed in S/4HANA making it a lean software
  • While S/4HANA can be technically used with SAP GUI (SAP’s desktop client based graphical user interface), in order for the customers to take full advantage of S/4HANA’s capabilities, they have to access it using FIORI (SAP’s user experience product). For example, functionalities such as robotic process automation and embedded analytics cannot be used using SAP GUI. There are FIORI apps available for ECC system as well, but they are limited in numbers and functionality
  • SAP claims that customers can experience a 50% reduction in data footprint by taking advantage of HANA’s data compression technique. SAP also claims that reports run 100 times faster in S/4HANA, customers experience improved insights, better forecasting and experience better user experience with the help of S/4HANA

In the next blog, i will write about the difference between S/4HANA’s different deployment options like Any premise (on-premise), Essential edition (Public cloud) and Extended edition (Single tenant).

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