Agile & DevOps

A Guide to DevOps Tool Chain Integration in SAP

Embracing DevOps allows your business to deliver more value to your customers by responding quickly to changing business requirements, giving them what they want sooner.

There are lots of tools available to make DevOps successful in the non-SAP world. But they haven’t traditionally worked with SAP because of its underlying architecture and the way change is orchestrated and deployed in an SAP environment.

Now it’s possible for SAP teams to integrate change processes with DevOps change happening elsewhere in the organization. We discussed how to integrate SAP with the DevOps tool chain in our recent webinar A Guide to DevOps Tool Chain Integration in SAP. You can watch it on demand at any time, but if you’d like a high level overview first, you’ve come to the right place.

Why tool chain integration in SAP matters

There are three key themes driving integration of SAP development and delivery with wider tool chains. First, while many IT teams are happy to use multiple best-of breed tools – that’s fundamentally what this is all about, after all – we also see a trend towards rationalization of solutions in discrete areas. A business might decide that they’re going to use ServiceNow to track all software development across their enterprise applications, for example, rather than a variety of tools.

Second, there’s a simple, and very understandable, desire to make the status of SAP development more transparent to the rest of the business. SAP’s status as a ‘black box’ or ‘closed system’ is a common complaint among our customers. Providing access to that information through tools that non-SAP teams can both access and feel comfortable using is a big win.

Last, but definitely not least, we’re seeing more and more organizations wanting to integrate SAP change into their DevOps and CI/CD processes. In essence, that means using change delivery tools for SAP that integrate well with DevOps tools used outside of SAP.

This need is becoming more pressing as companies look to make faster, more frequent changes to applications that depend on SAP. Making and deploying changes in SAP systems is typically slow and laborious compared to the continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) approach used by most DevOps teams, so if processes and tooling aren’t aligned, SAP may hold the whole delivery process – and realization of any associated value – back.

Connecting SAP to wider tool chains through ActiveControl

Our SAP change orchestration tool ActiveControl is designed to provide the connectivity you need to address these issues. Though it’s much more than an integration layer – ActiveControl has powerful capabilities to enable a DevOps approach in SAP itself – it can be connected to a wide range of other tools, from Jira for backlog management to Jenkins for continuous delivery, to enhance your ALM processes.

In the webinar we looked at a few common ActiveControl integrations, so let’s do the same here.

ITSM integration with SAP

ServiceNow is an IT Service Management (ITSM) platform that we often see integrated with SAP through ActiveControl. It allows IT teams to manage and govern the process of approving, implementing and releasing the changes arising from service requests.

The integration can automatically create an ActiveControl Business Task when a relevant ServiceNow ticket is approved, so that SAP developers can get started right away and their changes are always connected to a specific business requirement. Tickets are automatically updated when the status of corresponding Business Tasks (and related transports) changes, ensuring the requirement owner can see a real time view of exactly how far their request has progressed.

Other ITSM tools can be integrated with ActiveControl in a similar way, but whichever you choose you’ll benefit from a new level of visibility, a reduction in re-keying and manual effort, and a lower chance of conflicting status reports from different parts of your tool chain.

Integrating an agile backlog with SAP

An agile backlog is a prioritized list of deliverables, including new features that are due to be implemented as part of the development pipeline. It’s a decision-making tool to help development teams estimate, refine, and prioritize everything they want to build. Essentially, it helps ensure that the team is always working on the most important and valuable features.

Jira is a tool used by agile teams to manage such backlogs (although it can also be used in a more ITSM capacity). Requirements are represented as ‘user stories’, which come in a variety of forms but typically describe the outcome a particular user wishes to achieve, and the reason why.

Though the process here is more dynamic, integrating a tool like Jira with SAP through ActiveControl is similar to the ITSM scenario. Perhaps in this case an ActiveControl Business Task is created as soon as a user story is pulled into the ‘in development’ column of a Jira Kanban board, but from then on ActiveControl ensures that the story is constantly kept up-to-date as SAP developments progress. Jira can even be used to record final approvals for Production deployments, triggering them automatically via ActiveControl.

Integrating testing with SAP

Test automation plays a key role in SAP ALM, and particularly in agile development, CI/CD and processes.

Test automation tools can easily be integrated into an ActiveControl-driven SAP change and release process using CI/CD tools such as Jenkins or GitLab. Jenkins, in particular, is used in many non-SAP CI/CD workflows to connect various different products and technologies, and ActiveControl is no exception. Through a Jenkins integration automated SAP testing can be triggered by ActiveControl at appropriate control points, with results being returned in the other direction.

An alternative to tools like Jenkins would be to use ActiveControl’s NodeRED integration framework but whichever approach you choose, the ability to seamlessly incorporate automated testing into your SAP deployment workflow provides significant benefits in terms of efficiency and time saved.

Summary: Deliver SAP and non-SAP change faster with DevOps tool chain integration

If your organization wants to deliver business-enhancing change faster, integrating SAP development with the DevOps tool chain used in other parts of the organization will help. It will allow SAP change to happen at the same pace as change elsewhere, without compromising on stability or quality.

Historically, integrating SAP with wider DevOps processes was difficult (in fact nearly impossible). Now, ActiveControl from Basis Technologies integrates with many popular DevOps tools to allow you to deliver faster, safer, more frequent SAP change at low cost.

Find out more about DevOps tool chain integration in SAP

To explore DevOps tool chain integration in SAP at a deeper level, watch our on-demand webinar A Guide to DevOps tool chain integration in SAP.

Alternatively, get in touch to discuss how ActiveControl can help you bring DevOps and greater automation into your SAP environment.

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