How to avoid a tsunami of SAP release regret
We’ve all been there. Major release put into production. A sigh of relief and maybe a good night’s sleep. Then, the tsunami of issues starts coming in. I’ve seen this dozens of times over the years at SAP customers and yet I still see the same thing happening today.
What is it that Oscar Wilde said about second marriages? “The triumph of hope over experience”? Well, I’ll leave the politics of relationships to Mr. Wilde, but the sentiment for SAP releases holds true. Why in the SAP world do we keep bunching up changes and putting them into large, infrequent releases, knowing that it will most likely disrupt the business, keep us up burning the midnight oil and (once again) tarnish the IT department’s reputation with its customers? It must be the triumph of hope over experience.
But there is a better way. Continuous delivery allows us to push small amounts of change into production as often as we want, allowing delivery of changes and new features to users as quickly as possible. Continuous delivery has been practiced in the non-SAP world for many years, with well-documented benefits - it not only minimizes potential disruption but means we can deliver business benefits (read: competitive advantage) more quickly. Now, what might that do for the IT department’s reputation?
So why has this approach not been widely adopted in the SAP world? The trouble is that SAP is an interconnected universe and it is almost impossible to understand the connections and dependencies between all of the changes moving through a complex SAP landscape. This is why dependency management is key to continuous delivery in SAP. If you know what all those interdependencies are, then you know what can safely be delivered together or individually, allowing you to constantly push change into your production system with less risk and higher cadence.
There are many types of dependencies that need to be managed in SAP environments, but the most difficult to master are changes that rely on objects created by other developers (technical object dependencies). Having full visibility of these dependencies is an absolute must to understand which changes can safely be delivered into production incrementally whilst leaving others behind.
ActiveControl – Basis Technologies’ integrated toolset for DevOps and continuous delivery in SAP – automates SAP dependency management and takes all the guesswork out of which changes can safely be applied. So how does it work?
Technical dependencies can be inadvertently created between any changes in SAP. For example, does the change we want to deploy rely on a Function Module or Data Dictionary object that was created as part of a different change? If it does and we are not deploying both changes at the same time, the deployment will fail. Another P1 anybody?
This is why Deep Impact Analysis (DIA) is an essential feature for many users of ActiveControl. DIA automatically discovers all of the dependencies between all of the objects in your SAP systems (yes – all objects - both custom and SAP standard) and then uses this information whenever a change is approved or deployed to check that all dependencies are met and the change can be safely deployed. If any missing dependent objects are detected (oops, nobody told me that the program I’m deploying to production uses a Class Method that belongs to another change I haven’t yet deployed…), it will inform the user so that remedial action can be taken. Put simply, it gives you the ability to pick-and-choose individual changes to be pushed into production. Safely.
DIA enables safe deployment to SAP production environments, especially when adopting the type of incremental, agile release methodology fundamental to continuous delivery success.
The outcome? A win from the IT perspective and a win for the business – stable systems and competitive advantage, delivered faster.
To misquote my friend Oscar Wilde, I’d call that the triumph of innovation over hope.
To find out more about how ActiveControl can automate dependency management and allow continuous delivery for SAP, watch our webinar: Avoiding the butterfly effect. Why SAP dependency management is so important for continuous delivery.