In 2021, I mused on what it might mean to RISE with SAP , both from a provider and a client perspective. My SAP technical background since 1994 has been in the Basis space, and that area of the SAP ecosystem seemed to be wished out of existence by RISE, giving me more than slight pause.
Here at apiphani, we have built a company around focusing on consistent outcomes and reducing risk. We’ve done this by relying on automation – and the relatively newer predictive technologies – and by hiring for broad domain expertise.
While this approach has scaled nicely out from SAP ERP into other applications, the question becomes how we should continue to develop and scale around these concepts, while being locked out of an important source of information for our S/4HANA on RISE clients.
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Has SAP Basis Management Become a Commodity?
SAP considers RISE to be far more than a hosting solution or a Basis managed services solution. “We articulate the value of S/4HANA Cloud by putting it in terms of the three areas arguably most important to every business today: top line, bottom line, and the green line .”
All future development on S/4HANA assumes the product is deployed on the RISE platform. New innovations, such as SAP’s generative AI development, will be exclusively offered on RISE .
SAP considers controlling the infrastructure to be part and parcel of this. Partner SAP Hosting and HANA Operations certifications have been invalidated as of 7/11/2023.
Formerly certified partners will have no direct access to the Operating System once a client converts to RISE. Patching, upgrades, and system refreshes become SAP’s responsibility. This is an area RISE gives me pause.
While these operations are repetitive in nature and can be disruptive if not correctly and consistently executed, they also provide apiphani engineers a top-to-bottom view of the low-level workings of the systems under management.
This view is invaluable both for supporting consistency and tuning performance. Apiphani and others have deployed automations in these areas that have increased efficiency and reduced risk, and these solutions leverage tools that are not entirely SAP native.
My argument therefore is that “insourcing” them is a bit of a step backward. A well-performing and consistent experience for apiphani clients at the application level means careful integration of settings at the platform, operating system, database, and yes, the SAP Basis layer.
At apiphani, we call this “owning the stack.” It’s misguided to dismiss “infrastructure and Basis support” as a commodity that no longer requires attention. Providing managed SAP Basis services has never been merely about patching and informing clients of issues that occur, and that has not changed.
There are also some traditional Basis activities that are not covered by RISE. These generally fall under the umbrella of interfaces to other client solutions, such as single sign on, vulnerability remediation, and interfaces to other client specific applications. SAP DevOps also remains a client or partner responsibility.
Data, Observability, Predictability
One thing that has changed, however, is an explosion in the amount of data that is available. As I wrote in 2021, we’ve seen automation and predictive technologies really come into their own, giving providers a way to better manage outcomes in a consistent way. Apiphani considers services in these areas to be key to our value proposition.
Apiphani uses our proprietary Deep Automation™ technology not only to greatly reduce human error but also to free our engineers to focus on more meaningful work for our clients.
No longer firefighters, they can leverage their extensive knowledge and grow professionally in a supportive environment. One of our clients recently referred to apiphani’s Luumen solution as “the place for data,” which we took as a great compliment.
This data comes from our application performance monitoring systems, including log monitoring, our ITSM system, the cloud monitoring tools available, SAP native tools such as solution manager, and of course our own technology.
When information from these products is fed into a data lake and analyzed and visualized, it is possible to perform descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive analytics – the cornerstones of an effective business analytics strategy.
From an operational point of view, the collection and correlation of the markers in these technologies allows us to predict failures, and avoid them, by triggering self-healing actions.
Such actions can be as simple as providing early warning messages to responsible engineers, but they more often include automated process or service restarts, automated control of backups, automated management of disk space, and tuning activities such as online database table re-indexing.
Cloud-based applications are not magic black boxes. There’s always a server located somewhere, and careful management of that server forms the basis of providing a complete solution to clients.
It’s possible for apiphani to use all of our tools, and leverage any SAP innovations exclusively deployed on RISE, as long as we are allowed to instrument the servers of our RISE clients to gather the data needed for predictive analytics, from top to bottom. We’d prefer the infrastructure access, all things being equal, but if we can instrument then we get access to the data we need.
I am certain SAP is committed to providing a quality experience to its RISE clients, but, to borrow a phrase from Ronald Reagan, it’s important to be able to “trust, but verify.” Performance tuning and operational feedback from SAP partners such as apiphani offer a valuable resource that can help iterate the RISE platform and deliver a better experience for all RISE clients. RISE itself is probably not enough.
Regardless of the evolution of SAP’s position regarding technical support for its products, apiphani remains committed to providing an application management framework.
Our Luumen product is designed to drive down mean time to repair (MTTR) by providing insight, getting the right information into the right hands efficiently, avoiding the need to swap between multiple applications. In future posts I plan to dive further into apiphani’s business analytics initiatives and how they relate to operations management.
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