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Understanding SAP landscape set-up, and associated challenges – Part 3

In parts one and two of this blog I covered a high-level introduction to SAP Systems, Clients, Landscapes and Transports and then explored more advanced concepts associated with SAP Landscape Design and how to manage some of that increased complexity. 

In this final part of the series I’m going to look at why automation software like ActiveControl from Basis Technologies is so beneficial to the management of those SAP landscapes – whether simple or complex – via some specific examples of how it can help to improve your SAP change and release process, and therefore the ability of SAP systems to effectively support the rest of the business.

Control where and when transports can be created

Why is it important?
Depending upon how many Development systems and clients you have, it is important to have control of what triggers authorise the creation of changes and in which system/client, in order to retain control of your Development system and template. 

How ActiveControl Helps
Configuration to only allow development activities to occur based on an approved change or incoming event from an external system (e.g. based on a Jira approved requirement or a ServiceNow incident ticket). Equally, temporary systems like a Sandbox can be isolated to ensure no changes leave that system, but with more flexibility on who can explore / experiment. 

Limit or block portions of your customizing from being changed by all developers 

Why is it important?
If you are operating with a “template” design in which you have multiple systems or clients, it becomes important to define and control who is authorized to maintain the different parts of that template. It is also critical to ensure that the “template” scope cannot be edited in the downstream systems to ensure that you can be sure the template remains consistent across all systems. 

How ActiveControl Helps
Portions of the template in certain systems/clients can be restricted to an individual or group of owners, and the corresponding parts of the configuration in downstream systems/clients can be locked for editing so that the template integrity is enforced. 

Dealing with temporary systems 

Why is it important?
As detailed in part one of this blog, you may decide that you require temporary systems (Trial Cutover, Sandbox, etc). In an efficient change and release process it should be easy to add and remove such systems from the landscape, without hours of detailed analysis of which transports are required to ensure integrity of the path. 

How ActiveControl Helps
ActiveControl makes management of a dynamic system landscape incredibly simple thanks to the ability to add and remove systems from the various paths in just a few clicks. In addition, it will automatically offer options for ensuring the new system is synchronized to the right point within the path so that you start from a solid foundation. For example, if the Trial Cutover system was created based on a backup from production a few days ago, it will suggest adding any transports which were moved to production after the backup was taken to ensure it is comparable. 

Handling system or client refreshes with ease

Why is it important?
A majority of landscapes will have either full system or client refreshes on a regular basis (e.g. monthly, quarterly, annually). During a refresh the system in question is unavailable, but you would normally not want that to stop all changes from flowing through the landscape. Assuming changes continue to be deployed, once the refresh has been completed there will be an amount that must be re-applied to the refreshed system to avoid conflicts and other problems at a later date.

How ActiveControl Helps
ActiveControl makes it easy to temporarily remove systems from a transport deployment path and re-add them upon refresh completion – allowing certain changes (e.g. Emergency, Routine) to be promoted without those systems being in place. Additionally, when a refreshed system is ready, ActiveControl can automatically re-synchronize it with the rest of the landscape by deploying any transports that may have been promoted while the refresh was in progress.

Orchestrating across a complex SAP landscape 

Why is it important?
Imagine that you have changes or projects which are touching not only your core ERP system, but also have corresponding dependent changes in BW, PI, Fiori, CRM, or other systems. How can you ensure that such changes are deployed in a controlled and synchronized way?

How ActiveControl Helps
ActiveControl provides the ability to create relationships between changes across landscapes and enforce synchronous (deploy at the same time) or dependent relationships (e.g. BW change before ECC change) even if the landscapes are not “matching” (e.g. if one is 3-tier and the other 4-tier), helping you to avoid surprises associated with missing dependencies in other systems.

Handling Merge/Dual Maintenance

Why is it important?
Even if it’s only relevant when your SAP needs to be upgraded, the likelihood is that at some point you will run a dual track landscape (see blog part two for more details). So during the upgrade (or another project), you need a way to ensure that changes from the two paths are being governed and managed successfully. BAU change delivered while the upgrade is ongoing needs to be continuously fed back into the project track, and vice versa when the project is finally deployed.

How ActiveControl Helps
A wealth of standard functionality helps to manage the merge and deployment of changes across multiple paths and even across landscapes and release versions (e.g. ECC to S/4HANA). The process can be almost fully automated, with over 90% of cross-track merges happening completely automatically.

Managing parallel activities with confidence

Why is it important?
Depending upon how many concurrent projects you have running, there is a high chance of conflicts between teams or individuals working on the same objects and deploying with differing speeds. How can you be fully confident that an accelerated small project which needs to be built and deployed within one week is not going to conflict with a longer, more complex project which has only just left functional testing?

How ActiveControl Helps
With perfect knowledge and full visibility of what is in each system, what is in the pipeline and what risks the changes contain (critical objects, dependencies, versions, etc), ActiveControl can analyze, highlight and block deployment if it detects something which could bring risk to your system. It can warn if you will overwrite/overtake a change that is in-flight, if this would result in a downgrade (bringing in an earlier version of an object) or if there are dependent objects which have not yet been deployed in the target system. 

Release when Ready 

Why is it important?
One of Basis Technologies’ core beliefs is that customers should have the freedom to release change whenever it’s ready, no matter how complex your landscape, rather than having to wait for fixed monthly, quarterly or even annual release windows. This approach enables faster delivery of innovation and greater customer satisfaction and supports a more agile business with greater competitive edge.

How ActiveControl Helps
ActiveControl brings massively more confidence into the SAP change and release process by eliminating many of the inherent risks involved in trying to understand, control and manage the multiple, complex, and conflicting changes which are in flight at any one time. With perfect knowledge and full visibility comes lower risk and more flexibility around when and how you can deploy changes. 

Conclusion

I hope you have found this blog series useful and may consider exploring some of these ideas and options in the future within your own SAP estates. If this has sparked some questions or concerns and you would like to find out more about ActiveControl, please get in touch via a website for more information or to request a free demo.

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