On April 21-22, the virtual SAP MaxAttention Innovation workshop "End-to-End Hybrid Operations and DevOps for the Intelligent Enterprise Suite” took place. This wrap-up blog provides an overview about the focus topics of the workshop.
SAP has a long history of working together with customers and helping them leverage the latest technology innovations. SAP’s 40+ years of history include leading the change with every breakthrough technology advancement: Mainframe with SAP R/2, client/server architecture with SAP R/3, and in-memory computing with SAP HANA. Strategic acquisitions enriched SAP’s product portfolio. SAP became a cloud company and launched the Intelligent Enterprise Suite.
Intelligent enterprises use powerful technologies to turn intelligence into action, in every part of the business. Every touchpoint with customers, employees, and products brings valuable insights. From those insights, enterprises derive opportunities, risks, and trends. All with the goal to continuously improve.
Today, SAP offers a product portfolio and innovative technologies to help companies transform into intelligent enterprises in the experience economy. Especially now, it is important more than ever for companies to continue offering products and services to their customers while conditions are shifting.
In order to adjust, intelligent enterprises need to continuously innovate. Continuous innovation should not come at a cost of stable operations. Rather, companies should find the right balance: how to respond to changing markets AND how to run at their best.
Companies that are constantly in a fire-fighter mode do not have resources to respond to shifting conditions and do not have resources and time to innovate.
Therefore, it is important to establish robust and efficient operations and incorporate a continuous improvement mindset into the company’s DNA.
Intelligent enterprises are consuming cloud services to take advantage of the latest innovations. Business processes are no longer executed exclusively in the on-premise landscape. Companies move parts of their on-premise processes to the cloud, or they integrate their on-premise processes with cloud offerings. The solutions become hybrid. Thischanges the role of customer’s IT.
IT will no longer be responsible for the maintenance of the entire landscape. But it will be responsible to integrate business processes running across SaaS and on-premise systems. IT will need to ensure end-to-end availability and performance of the processes. It continues being a solution provider for business and with that come expectations. The strategic objective, to run at a low cost and to leverage innovative technologies to become intelligent enterprise, remains. Therefore, customers buy cloud offerings in the first place. Based on the deployment model of software, some responsibilities shift but some aspects of operations remain with customer IT. As customer’s IT gets to work with more “as-a-Service” providers, new models of cooperation arise.
Regardless of deployment and collaboration model, the goals remain to ensure high availability of core processes and interfaces, full transparency supported by automated monitoring, outstanding end-user experience, also with respect to time to resolution of user incidents and time to fulfilment of user requests. Finally, IT should provide a high value to business while maintaining costs low.
On April 21-22, 2020, SAP met with SAP MaxAttention customers and discussed latest SAP innovations in the product and service portfolio. Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic crisis, SAP offered this collaboration event 100% virtually. Over 100 customers from over 50 companies registered for the event. We spoke about numerous topics.
(1) DevOpsis a strategic enabler of continuous innovation. Companies are leveraging SAP’s best practices and model companies to implement their solutions. For specific business requirements, SAP offers extensibility features for the digital core: in-app extensibility, and side-by-side extensibility. SAP offers innovation platform SAP Cloud Platform to build extensions for all SAP products, as well as third party solutions, and embed intelligent technologies into applications. SAP Cloud Platform provides tools to develop and manage those innovations: a portfolio ofservices of SAP Cloud Platform that helps foster DevOps principles and simplify adoption for cloud-native applications as well as hybrid scenarios1.
(2) The key of the DevOps transformation is agile development and technological automation. Platforms like SAP Solution Manager and Focused Buildintroduce automation, robustness, and transparency in the project delivery and application lifecycle management. ALM and IT Operations platform from SAP helps customers become more agile across value chains of requirements to deploy, and from detect to correct. The toolset can do just so much. It is important for companies to adjust their processes as they move to the cloud. Change control and testing in the hybrid processes and integrations need to be in focus in order to maintain the stability.
As companies progress from agile development to continuous integration, continuous delivery, and continuous deployment, they adopt tools and methods to achieve higher degree of automation of software production. Accelerators like SAP’s open-source project “Piper” helps set up a CI/CD pipeline quickly based on predefined scenarios and step libraries. The goal of project "Piper" is to substantially ease setting up continuous delivery in customer projects using SAP technologies2.
(3) While strong practices of software development are critical for the high quality of the hybrid solution, IT’s readiness to operate that hybrid solution is key to a smooth transition to robust operations. Therefore, project activities focusing on operational readiness must be part of the overall project plan right from the beginning. To successfully navigate a new collaboration model with service providers and partners, an operation model needs to be defined for target solution. No matter how much of IT responsibility has been outsourced, an operations control center for continuous monitoring and feedback loop would allow IT to maintain transparency and respond quickly to the unforeseen. Finally, the future operations team of the solution needs to be empowered and educated on how to operate it and work together with partners to sustain stability during operations.
(4) Continuous improvement entails proactive measures at different stages of the project that will help efficient operations in future. It includes making sure that before moving to the new house SAP S/4HANA, only the necessary luggage of data and custom code is transferred, the technical waste and dept is a cost-driver. SAP developed a comprehensive portfolio of services that helps customers analyze what can be let go off and determine actions to clean up the source system before the transition to the target landscape.
Thorough validation of mission-critical business processes against data consistency and transactional correctness, performance, scalability, and other aspects, help safeguard the target solution and mitigate the risks of technical instability and business disruption. Continuous review and optimization of various aspects of security is an absolute must in the connected world and challenging conditions of ever-growing security threats.
To minimize business downtime during cutover and other maintenance events, the processes of upgrades and migrations should be rehearsed and optimized for technical stability and performance.
After solution is life, it is important to constantly look for opportunities to simplify, optimize, and run better.
(5) Whether you are creating an app to satisfy your very specific business requirements as part of the implementation project or refining application logic to offer a better user experience after GoLive, you can continuouslyinnovate by boosting your business applications with conversational user interfaces, process automation, predictive analytics, etc. Likewise, IT processes and personnel can highly benefit from intelligent technologies. Offering comprehensive operations insights into the hybrid landscape via SAP Analytics Cloud for your company’s C-suite or automating mundane repetitive activities using SAP Intelligent Robotic Process Automation, the use cases to achieve efficiency through intelligent technologies can be relatively easy to spot.
More and more companies discover SAP’s brand-new business operations self-healing service, an out-of-the-box AI platform for IT and business operations that ensures instant resolutions (a) for users’ self-help and self-service tasks and (b) for systems to be “always on” through self-healing.
The format of SAP MaxAttention Innovation Workshop was highly interactive. During brainstorming sessions on a virtual whiteboard, via chat and voice, customers shared their experiences of operating hybrid solutions and establishing corporate-wide DevOps practices. Context-specific polls throughout the workshops helped collect additional insights and lead a meaningful conversation with customers.
As a feedback, customers shared that they have learnt a lot about the latest product and service offerings and innovations from SAP in the areas of DevOps and Operations. We are looking forward to continuing the dialog with our SAP MaxAttention customers and help them get to the next level of excellence, both for Development and Operations.
Speakers: Boris Zarske, Irina Kirilova, Kiril Gavrailov, Harald Stevens, John Krakowski Jr., Evan Stoddard, Preethi Manjunath Shetty, Andreas Krueckendorf, Tomas, Engelmann, and Alina Boissay
Event management team: Linda Loeffler, Sarah Thiel, Ting Hoffmann, Isabelle Kremer, Julian Goldschmitt