SAP TechEd 2015 in Las Vegas, held a couple of weeks ago, was a great show and successful as usual, with many thousands of attendees and hundreds of sessions. TechEd is the place to meet colleagues, hear news and upcoming developments from SAP, and get training on new products. TechEd is like getting an energy shot about everything-SAP, and leave it pumped up with excitement.
oXya has had great presence at TechEd, with a large team and successful booth. We had visitors from more than 1000 unique companies visiting our booth. In addition, I attended a few excellent sessions (see below), met with and had great discussions with a few SAP Mentors, and also had good discussions with SAP executives. In this blog post, I’m summarizing the highlights and key trainings from TechEd. We’ll expand on some of these in the coming weeks.
Key Trends in SAP TechEd Vegas
The main trend in TechEd was around HANA. No surprise there, and it’s not the first year that TechEd focuses on HANA. The difference from previous years is that HANA has become an increasingly central component of the SAP market, so naturally also a focus of TechEd. The event featured multiple “HANA Heroes”, companies that have migrated to or implemented HANA, with the help of SAP and companies such as oXya. See this short interview with Frederic de Belloy, President and co-founder of oXya, in which he shares some insights about customers’ adoption of HANA, and what led oXya’s decision to be acquired by HDS, earlier this year.
We featured one such customer Celio, the leading global men fashion retailer, in a webinar that we held a few weeks ago. For those of you who missed the webinar, here is a link to watch the full webinar, and also a link to the specific presentation from Celio’s CIO, Laurent Rousset, including their HANA project.
Another major focus at TechEd was around Internet of Things (IoT), and what SAP is trying to promote on this subject. The subject of IoT is related to something relatively new for SAP, which is analytics. SAP recently announced a new and impressive version of its SAP Predictive Analytics software, which I recommend everyone take a look at, to see what SAP can do with big data, data mining, and analytics. Hitachi Data Systems, our parent company, is also doing a lot around IoT and analytics – see this short interview with Dr. Greg Smith from HDS, which we recorded at TechEd, in which he explains what we do in this area.
As analytics was taking center stage due to SAP’s investments in this area, SAP also introduced three new products on Hybris. These are micro products for specific customer usages, for example a marketing tool that enables marketers to create highly personalized content, based on customer data. There is an entire, thriving market of small tools connected to Hybris, and this trend is expected to grow even further next year, as it is a key driver to leveraging SAP’s CRM.
SAP’s CRM tool hasn’t been great until now, and they’ve had lots of competition from excellent and strong tools, such as Microsoft’s CRM and SalesForce. SAP is trying to bring some new tools and services to the market, to better compete with the other CRM providers. Hybris and the marketplace around it are a major step in this direction. The Hybris marketplace includes a lot of micro products from SAP and various partners, and these services are consumed on a pay-per-use model (“as a service”).
Interesting Sessions at TechEd Vegas
As already mentioned above, we attended many great sessions at TechEd, and I would like to highlight three sessions that I round most interesting. This is also a good place to say “Thank You!” to SAP for a great event and for recording most of these sessions and providing them online – in the text below you’ll find links to video recordings of the first two of these three sessions, and at the bottom of the blog I'm attaching PDF versions of all three presentations (if anyone has a link to the third video recording, please let me know and I’ll add it as well).
The first session was TEC114, “Transition Paths to SAP S/4HANA”. I will expand on this session below, as this subject is something we’re discussing on a daily basis with our customers. For those of you who haven’t seen it, here’s a link to the video recording of the TEC114 session, as well as to the attached PDF version of the presentation.
The second session was SEC203, “Hacking and Protecting RFC Communication”, which focused on a highly sensitive security issue, a subject which is very important for customers, and also something that is easy to solve. The hacking demonstrations in this session focused for getting into SAP using the “ALEREMOTE” user, and were very interesting. The hackers demonstrated how they were able to change a system user, which is usually safe from external users, into a Dialog user with special programs, and get into the system with remote login. The session also had a discussion on how to protect RFC connections, and recommended reports that should be run in order to find out which RFCs are never used at all by users, and can therefore be disabled. In addition, it recommended reports to run authorization checks on RFCs, to find out which authorizations are most needed. The goal of all this is to avoid giving ALEREMOTE the unsecure role of SAP_ALL. Here’s a link to the video recording of the SEC203 session, and also attached is the presentation in PDF format.
The third session was BA262, “Monitor the Health of Your SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence Suite”. This session focused on a new BI support tool, to troubleshoot BO issues. This tool is a must have for all BO platforms: no real setup, transparent usage, and can be used directly on your production systems. This tool can generate reports with very interesting content (whereas EWA for BO is hard to configure, and provides too little info). In short, this new tool provides high value for BusinessObjects customers, and I highly recommend taking a look at the attached presentation, in PDF format, of this session (and a quick tip: "high" trace server level should never be let to 'on' on prod, it just kills performance).
Upgrade paths to S/4HANA
As already mentioned, there was a lot of focus at TechEd around S/4HANA, with many sessions and discussions around it. S/4HANA remains a grand statement from SAP, with some answers that SAP still needs to provide to the market. First, it is a new solution that still needs multiple components developed, probably in the coming year, for it to be a viable option for customers.
Furthermore, the shift from a current SAP version to S/4HANA is really opaque at this stage, and is unclear for customers. Customers are asking us many questions around how to migrate from their current SAP to S/4HANA, and SAP is not providing clear guidance and migration paths. Each time that SAP has come up with a new version, including with HANA, they have also offered very clear, straightforward guidance on how to perform the migration. However, with regards to S/4HANA, it’s the first time that I can remember in which SAP releases a product, and there is very little information about the migration process.
For this reason, the TEC114 session, on “Transition Paths to SAP S/4HANA” was very interesting, since it started answering some questions, though not all. What we learned in this session was about the 3 transition scenarios to S/4HANA, which you can see on slide 11 from the full presentation, on the right.
The first scenario is a New Implementation. In this scenario, you are not reusing your ECC or R/3 instances, you just “burn” your old SAP environment, flip to a new page, and start with an entirely new SAP installation, from scratch. This approach allows you to redesign some of the business processes. Once you have adapted S/4HANA to your needs, then you can transfer the data from the old SAP system. When choosing this scenario, you can either choose to deploy S/4HANA on-premise, or SAP also offers customers to deploy on the SAP S/4HANA Public Cloud.
The challenge with this New Implementation scenario is that you cannot migrate any of your adapted business processes; you must ditch all the investments in business processes you have made over the years, and go with the SAP standard processes. I’ll detail more about this when describing the second scenario.
The second scenario is a System Conversion. You have an SAP system that you want to keep “as is”, and migrate it to S/4HANA. You also want to continue using the same business processes that you have deployed in your company over the years. To achieve that goal you take your current ECC system, migrate it to S/4HANA, and at the end of the migration you have your current business processes running on S/4HANA. My estimate is that most customers would want to use this migration scenario, meaning keep their current business processes.
With that in mind, there is one very important thing that customers must realize—the only available options for this migration scenario is on-premise, or through a 3rd party cloud. The SAP S/4HANA Cloud does not support this option, so you cannot use SAP S/4HANA Enterprise Cloud to achieve this scenario!
SAP is pushing customers to use their SAP Enterprise Cloud, but if you want to use the SAP Cloud, then you’ll have to go back to standard SAP processes. All the development that you have done in the last 5 or 10 (or more) years – you will have to get rid of all these, because SAP will not allow you to have specific development on their own cloud. So, if you want to take the System Conversion path, then you’ll have to do it on-premise, or on the oXya cloud, because we do does allow you to do this type of migration and keep all the investments and developments you have done over the years.
The third option is the Landscape Transformation. This is pretty much a new implementation, only the emphasis here is on consolidation. You take some different ERP systems that you have in different branches, locations, or geographies, and you migrate them to S/4HANA. You perform a selective migration – you keep your old ERP systems and continue to run some activities on it, but do a consolidation of Finance (for example) on S/4HANA.
With the Landscape Transformation scenario, SAP says you can use either the on-premise option or the S/4HANA Cloud, but again – the S/4HANA Cloud does not support any type of developments or business processes that are different from the SAP standard. So, if you want to leverage the S/4HANA Cloud option, then the consolidation must be in SAP standard, meaning you cannot use your own business processes that you have developed (similar to scenario #1). Once again, if you want to keep your own business processes, you can use either the on-premise option, or the oXya cloud.
Conclusion: out of the above three scenarios that SAP provides, my estimate is that most customers will want to keep their current business processes. As a result, they will choose the second scenario, System Conversion, in order to not lose all the investments they made on the business processes side. However, the System Conversion option is not supported by S/4HANA Enterprise Cloud, so the only options available to customers are an on-premise installation, or with a 3rd party cloud which supports this migration, such as the oXya cloud.
We should take into consideration that SAP are trying to convince their customers to move to the SAP HANA Cloud. Customers who didn’t yet thoroughly investigate the various migration options may not realize that if they indeed decide to go with the HANA Cloud option, they will be forced to get rid of all the specifically-tailored portions (modifications) that they have, and only use the SAP standard, as nothing but the standard is supported on the S/4HANA Cloud.
In the coming weeks, we will dedicate a specific blog to S/4HANA considerations and migration paths.
And of course, come to see us next week at SAP TechEd in Barcelona - we have a joint booth for Hitachi Data Systems and oXya.
Melchior du Boullay is VP of Business Development and Americas Geo Manager at oXya, a Hitachi Data Systems company. oXya is a technical SAP consulting company, providing ongoing managed services (run management) for enterprises around the world. In addition, oXya helps customers running SAP with various projects, including upgrades and migrations, including to SAP HANA. Enterprises migrating to HANA are using oXya to perform the HANA migration for them, since they usually don’t have the in-house skillset and prior knowledge to perform that migration.