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Introducing ActiveControl 8.3: New DevOps Innovation for SAP

Jenkins integration brings even more CI/CD possibilities to SAP change automation

At Basis Technologies we have a long track record of delivering new technology that gives companies more freedom to change their SAP systems, enables them to adopt new ways of working that enable greater agility, and makes the lives of people who run those systems significantly easier.

This approach that feels particularly relevant today as the COVID-19 virus forces many businesses – and their IT teams – to adapt faster than ever, so I’m happy to announce the release of ActiveControl 8.3, the latest version of our market-leading DevOps automation product.

ActiveControl is specifically designed for use in SAP systems and helps companies to innovate faster and be more responsive to their customers. Version 8.3, which is available now, includes a number updates that in the short term might help to ease a bit of the pressure everyone is feeling, but can also support more fundamental long-term changes to SAP change management processes.

Key updates include ActiveControl’s first out-of-the-box integration with Jenkins, a popular Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) automation tool, and additional support for SAP S/4HANA transition. Highlights of the release include:

  • Faster automated testing thanks to Jenkins CI/CD automation
  • Out-of-the-box integration with abapGit-based development workflows via Jenkins
  • Enhanced support for ECC / S/4HANA ‘dual maintenance’
  • Integration into SAP’s ABAP Test Cockpit for more powerful code quality checks 
  • Extensions to ActiveControl’s suite of over 60 automated analyzers
  • Updated automated reporting to simplify audit processes
  • Additions to the popular Web UI to enhance user experience and application maintenance
  • A variety of updates that improve usability, control and governance.

Out-of-the-box Jenkins integration

Integration of SAP systems with wider application delivery pipelines is a topic of growing interest amongst SAP teams. In many cases those non-SAP delivery pipelines rely on Jenkins, so we’re often asked how ActiveControl could connect the two. 

Now it can. ActiveControl 8.3 includes the first out-of-the-box ActiveControl/Jenkins integration, designed to support two important CI/CD-related topics: automated testing and abapGit-based development.

Automated testing is key to effective CI/CD processes. It saves time, reduces errors and increases developer autonomy and productivity. To that end ActiveControl 8.3 allows companies to leverage existing test automation as part of an SAP-based CI/CD approach. Automated tests can be automatically triggered by ActiveControl via Jenkins, which then feeds back results from the external testing tool to ActiveControl so that they can be recorded and progress the workflow appropriately.

abapGit is certainly another high-profile topic, with many organizations eager to explore how distributed SAP development could help to increase efficiency and agility. Setting up an effective abapGit-based workflow isn’t straightforward, however, so ActiveControl 8.3 includes the means to use Jenkins to connect local abapGit repositories with an established transport management process. This hybrid workflow combines the potential of abapGit for far more flexible development, with the safety, transparency and efficiency of an ActiveControl-driven CI/CD process. Since abapGit is still a relatively new technology and can be used in many different ways, we plan to expand this capability in future releases to accommodate a wider variety of Jenkins-driven abapGit workflows.

ECC / S/4HANA ‘dual maintenance’ support

Estimates of how long S/4HANA migration projects may take run from months to years. One Basis Technologies customer was recently delighted to go live after a project lasting ‘only’ nine months. Regardless of project duration there is likely to be a prolonged period when you need to maintain concurrent ECC and S/4HANA landscapes that support the same business functions – otherwise known as ‘dual maintenance’. 

ActiveControl 8.3 builds on capability delivered in the previous release to provide more support for SAP users who are dealing with the challenge of how to effectively manage S/4HANA dual maintenance. More powerful analysis and greater integration with smartRetrofit from smartShift Technologies help to further accelerate and reduce the cost of S/4 migration, so that your organization can realize the value of its investment faster than would otherwise be possible.

ABAP Test Cockpit integration

An increasing number of firms are now leveraging SAP’s ABAP Test Cockpit, rather than Code Inspector alone. ActiveControl 8.3 adds a new Check ABAP Test Cockpit results analyzer to DevEnforcer to cater to the needs of these users, adding the tool to the list of options that can automatically be executed from within ActiveControl-based change and release workflows. 

The new analyzer integrates with ABAP Test Cockpit to manage code quality, security and performance across multiple SAP systems. It allows code quality checks to shift left, further accelerating change and enhancing a DevOps approach.

Enhanced DevOps analyzers

Regular readers of this blog will have noticed just how often we mention ActiveControl’s suite of more than sixty automated analyzers, in all kinds of contexts. That’s because we recognize how much value they can deliver in any automated SAP change and release process and how critical they are to an effective DevOps approach.

That being the case, we’re always on the lookout for ways to improve the analyzers and add even more value. In addition to the DevEnforcer update I’ve just mentioned, ActiveControl 8.3 features a new Check Transport Presence analyzer to better support complicated multi-track, multi-landscape release workflows, and includes improvements to a number of other analyzers including the popular Deep Impact Analysis.

These updates will help to remove more effort from SAP change control processes, enabling even more efficient, repeatable automated workflows with less risk of issues and downtime.

Improved Governance and Audit

Governance. Compliance. Audit. Not words that typically inspire enthusiasm or smiling, happy faces. Why? Because creating the reports you need to satisfy the auditors is often a difficult, time-consuming job. That’s bad enough in isolation, but when it’s on top of the work you’re already expected to complete…? Well, we understand why it’s no-one’s favorite topic.

In fact, governance and compliance are of such concern to some ActiveControl users that they consider the ability to automatically create reports for audit purposes to be one of the product’s most important features! 

ActiveControl 8.3 provides more assistance to SAP teams thanks to key reporting enhancements that enable more comprehensive auditing, and more granular authorization controls that improve overall governance – all adding up to an even better paper trail and more time saved.

Enhanced user experience; easier maintenance 

More and more organizations are choosing to adopt ActiveControl’s browser-based Web UI. Users appreciate an easier to use, more approachable interface (especially when they’re not so used to SAP applications), and upgrading to capitalize on the latest features becomes much easier when there’s no local client to install on user PCs. 

However, it’s still not possible to do absolutely everything through the Web UI. The SAP or Windows GUIs are still required for certain, more advanced functions, so we continue to build out the capabilities of the Web UI to increase customer convenience and enable easier adoption of the latest ActiveControl has to offer.

We’ve added a significant amount of new capability to the Web UI over recent ActiveControl releases and version 8.3 is no exception, featuring a number of updates and enhancements in this regard. 

And there’s more

Like every other ActiveControl release, version 8.3 includes a host of other, more specific updates that address particular issues raised by end users.

I’m not going to dig into every detail here but as I mentioned at the start of this post, hopefully the combination of ‘big’ new stuff and the many specific improvements will help to make the lives of ActiveControl users just that little bit easier during this trying time and beyond, while at the same time helping the companies they work for to become more agile and efficient.

If you’re already an ActiveControl user, finding time to safely install the new version shouldn’t be a problem as the ease and simplicity of ActiveControl’s installation process mean that the upgrade can typically be completed in just a few days. Even new installations can be implemented in as little as one week, so there’s no reason to delay.

ActiveControl 8.3 is available now.  If you’d like to find out more about what it can offer, request a free demo.

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