SAP TechEd Las Vegas came as quickly as it went, held between the 24th to the 27th of September 2019 at the Sands Convention Centre in Las Vegas. Zag sent Basis Lead, Whye-Loong Wong from our Australian office to get the inside scoop on SAP’s product strategy.
Here are Whye-Loong’s insights into the new technologies and innovation that will put you at the front of the pack.
Opening Keynote – SAP’s Platform Direction
The opening keynote was delivered by SAP’s new CTO, Juergen Mueller.
“I made sure to arrive early to get a good seat – I was prepared to be wowed by his speech, as I had good memories of Hasso Plattner giving inspiring, technology-driven keynotes in the heyday when SAP HANA was defined as the future platform for all things SAP.” – Whye-Loong Wong
The keynote kicked off with the Intelligent Enterprise with focus on the Qualtrics acquisition and how the toolset would complement existing SAP applications.
We have heard it before - data is everywhere, and data is king. Data within existing SAP applications is defined as O-Data; or Operational Data (not to be confused with OData, Open Data Protocol). It would not be an SAP event if there were no new acronyms.
- O-Data – Operational Data – How it Happened e.g. sales orders
- X-Data – Experience Data – Why it Happened e.g. NPS responses
Qualtrics XM combines O-Data with X-Data, and via predictive analytics, and provides an analytics goldmine.
One UI to Rule Them All – Fiori 3
SAP is finally providing a unified, harmonised User Interface across all its applications – from on-premise all the way to its cloud-based applications. Fiori 3 (not 3.0, as the dot zero is for Front End Server) requires Front End Server 6.0 and is delivered with both on-premise S/4HANA 1909 and cloud S/4HANA 1908 versions, with backwards compatibility from NetWeaver 7.40 onwards.
Fiori 3 also utilises a new “Quartz Light” theme which replaces the default Belize theme. The new Quartz theme is lighter and more neutral, putting application content centre stage. It’s simple and minimalistic, making it easy for customers to theme it to their brand.
The Future is Cloudy
SAP is slowly but surely moving towards a SaaS business model “cloudifying” all its on-premise products.
SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC) is now integrated into S/4HANA Cloud as an additional tenant, and the SAC license is provided free if the customer already has a S/4HANA Cloud subscription. Customers still require a full SAC license if advanced capabilities such as planning or predictive analytics are required.
SAP Analytics Cloud will be fundamental to many SAP products.
SAP Cloud Platform – The Business Technology Platform
Next up was the SAP Cloud Platform which SAP calls the “Business Technology Platform” given SAP’s defacto expertise in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and business processes. SAP provides business architecture, with reference architecture provided with hyperscalers such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform and Alibaba Cloud.
SAP services can be combined with multi-cloud hyper scalers. For example, SAP blockchain can connect into Microsoft Azure blockchain seamlessly.
*SAP Cloud Platform: Source news.sap.com
SAP Data Intelligence
Another cloud-only product available on the SAP Cloud Platform is SAP Data Intelligence, an evolution of SAP Data Hub and Machine Learning (ML). It allows connectivity between SAP and non-SAP data and the management of ML models at an enterprise scale.
TechEd – the nitty, gritty details
“With over 500 sessions jam-packed into 3.5 days, it can get overwhelming. I had to choose my sessions carefully. Being a Basis Architect, my focus was on SAP Technology – SAP HANA, hardware, S/4HANA conversions (as Zag is helping many of our customers along their S/4HANA journey), Fiori and whatever else I found interesting.” – Whye-Loong Wong
It’s no surprise that the S/4HANA sessions had full attendance given that SAP has mandated a move to its latest ERP platform by 2025.
Some of the key S/4HANA sessions were conducted by the product owners and were excellent, providing handy tips and tricks, the latest know-how and potential limitations with certain scenarios. For example, “DMO with System Move” is not yet supported for S/4HANA 1909 conversion, as of the time this was written.
To hear these tips and tricks and get advice on what obstacles to look out for, get in contact with Zag today to be put in touch with our S/4HANA and Cloud Platform experts.
SAP HANA and Hardware Updates
Even though the infrastructure for SAP HANA has been around for many years and is already commoditised, it was still interesting to see both Intel and IBM, the leading hardware architecture players for SAP HANA, pushing the envelope.
Intel’s latest development for SAP HANA is not only its new (yet expected) annual Xeon CPU announcement, but in fact Intel Optane – a technology announced in 2017 that is now getting proper support in SAP HANA 2.0.
Optane is a type of persistent memory that is many times faster than NAND flash memory and, because of this, allows a significant reduction in SAP HANA start-up and shutdown durations (compared to flash-based storage). This is very valuable for customers running very large HANA instances as it shortens planned maintenance activities and optimises operational costs.
IBM also announced a similar technology called PMEM (which stands for Persistent Memory) which can be utilised by customers running existing IBM Power9 hardware.
Now, will the hyperscalers follow suit to support persistent memory technologies? Time will tell.
“And there you have it. It was a whirlwind trip filled with red-eye flights, great networking, and good insights into the latest and greatest from SAP.” – Whye-Loong Wong
Zag is very much at the forefront of everything latest and greatest SAP – from S/4HANA conversions and upgrades, to architecting multi-cloud, enterprise-scale implementations and migrations. We are constantly innovating and adapting to the latest technologies, to ensure our customers’ SAP implementations, be it on-premise or cloud, are fully optimised and provide the best outcome.
Looking for an SAP implementation partner you can trust? Get in contact with Zag today.