New Node-RED integration framework makes it easier to orchestrate software change across the enterprise.
Hear from Basis Technologies’ Jim Dugger on what’s new in the latest release of ActiveControl 8.40.
Connectivity is a big thing these days. Imagine what it would have been like to work from home (as so many of us now have to) 20 years ago, with just a dial-up modem and your Nokia 3310 for company. Today we can work faster and get far more done thanks to a variety of seamless interactions enabled by connected technology.
Software development is a prime example. Many applications and tools now communicate with each other, so more of the process can be automated. More automation means that code can get out into the world – and start generating business value – faster (which is the name of the game, after all).
ActiveControl, Basis Technologies’ DevOps automation software, is designed to provide just such automation and connectivity for SAP systems, allowing firms to increase business agility and transform business-critical SAP systems through fast, effective delivery of innovation. Today we’re pleased to announce General Availability of the latest version, ActiveControl 8.40.
Version 8.40 features a variety of enhancements that accelerate SAP change and release processes, including a new way to connect SAP development to wider IT tool chains.
Key highlights of the release include:
- A new Node-RED-based integration framework, enabling easier connection of SAP to enterprise-wide DevOps processes.
- Parallel import capability, for faster changes through simultaneous transport deployment.
- Simpler, more powerful configuration of Transports of Copies to streamline QA processes and transport management.
- Additions to the powerful Rules Engine, allowing creation of even more bespoke approval processes.
- An improved user experience through new Web UI capabilities.
Node-RED integration framework
The ability to connect SAP development to non-SAP tooling has long been important to ActiveControl users but recently we’ve heard that it’s becoming a more pressing concern. Version 8.40’s new Node-RED integration framework was developed in response to this feedback, in line with Basis Technologies’ traditional customer focus. It provides a new way to create, configure and customize integrations between ActiveControl and other compatible tools like Microsoft Azure DevOps, so that connecting SAP development to wider DevOps processes and orchestrating software change across the enterprise becomes easier than ever.
Node-RED is an open-source flow-based low code tool designed to make it easy to connect applications. Built on Node.js, it provides a simple browser-based, drag-and-drop interface that can be used to build event-driven ‘flows’ from an extensive public library of predefined ‘nodes’. Flows can easily be saved for future editing in case processes change, and can be deployed with a single click (subject to any corresponding configuration updates, in ActiveControl’s case).
The Node-RED framework expands ActiveControl’s integration capabilities, giving users more choice in how to join ActiveControl to other automation tools. Existing ‘out of the box’ integrations remain available for popular products like Jira and ServiceNow. These standardized configurations are based on typical workflows and provide a straightforward starting point for connecting SAP development to a wider tool chain. ActiveControl’s open APIs are also available for teams that prefer to use a different middleware platform (TIBCO or PI, for example) to integrate software across their enterprise.
Parallel import capability
It’s out of hours. Phones are running hot. A major issue has been spotted in the SAP Production system and must be rectified immediately. Everyone pulls out the stops and before you know it the offending code has been updated, tested and is ready to go. But you can’t deploy it to the live system because another transport import is in progress.
This might not exactly be an everyday scenario but delays to emergency fixes can result in significant additional costs. ActiveControl’s new parallel import functionality solves the problem by enabling simultaneous deployment of unrelated transports, so that urgent changes can be deployed as soon as they are ready.
Perhaps more importantly, it’s not only useful for emergencies. Long-running imports, far from unusual in BW and S/4HANA systems, can act as a bottleneck at any stage of development, reducing productivity across the board by preventing other changes from progressing. Parallel imports help to remove this roadblock and allow SAP teams to deliver planned changes at higher speed – whether as part of DevOps sprints or traditional releases.
New Transports of Copies (TOCs) configuration
Transports of Copies aren’t new, but a growing number of ActiveControl users employ them at some point in their SAP change and release processes, particularly in agile and DevOps scenarios that involve deployment of a higher number of smaller changes.
ActiveControl 8.40 introduces a new central configuration table that provides an easier way to set up and manage TOCs, even in complex automated workflows, so that overall transport volumes are reduced, changes can more easily be tracked and management of SAP systems becomes less labor-intensive.
You can read more about the new TOCs functionality in this separate blog post.
Rules Engine enhancements
Introduced back in ActiveControl 8.0, the Rules Engine provides a uniquely powerful way to create bespoke (and extremely granular, if desired) approval workflows that can meet the specific needs of any organization. Uses include assignment of different approvers for BAU and project changes, enforcement of additional approvals for critical changes, and selective approval assignments for peer reviews according to the type of change (though these examples really just scratch the surface of what the Rules Engine makes possible).
ActiveControl 8.40 further enhances the Rules Engine, with a notable new feature being the ability to link assignment of approvers directly to SAP roles. This change means that security teams can be responsible for defining who can approve each type of change, reducing the reliance on ActiveControl administrators and closing a potential segregation of duties / compliance gap.
Improved user experience
ActiveControl’s browser-based Web UI continues to grow in popularity thanks to its ease of use and low maintenance burden – ActiveControl upgrades become a good deal simpler when no new client software has to be deployed, for example.
With every ActiveControl upgrade we strive to add more Web UI functionality to make things easier for our users and version 8.40 is no exception, featuring a number of specific Web UI enhancements requested by customers, like the ability to filter by transport path, that make it easier than ever for distributed teams to manage SAP change effectively and efficiently.
If you’re already an ActiveControl user, finding time to safely upgrade to the new version shouldn’t be a problem as the simplicity of ActiveControl’s installation process means it can often 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 8.40 is available now. If you’d like to find out more about what it can offer, request a free demo.