Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Grand Designs meets ERP – A rich palette for the Business Process Expert (BPX)

In the UK we have a TV show called Grand Designs which is all about people who have big plans for either renovating or building unique houses to live in.

Following all the announcements at TechEd 2010 about the technology innovations with us or in the pipeline it occurred to me that the options and opportunities available to Enterprise Architects and Business Process Experts is increasing exponentially. This is very exciting in that the solutions that can be delivered should (finally) amaze/delight the business but it does come with the danger that this flexibility means that it will be easier to make costly mistakes.

This is why it is so important that you have a robust Enterprise Architecture to point the way and a good Business Process Experts (BPX) that are able to interpret these architectures.

So what things need to be rolled into the Enterprise Architecture Roadmap ? The list below gives a view of the areas that are/will be impacted by new Technology from SAP.

  • Portal and Role Based Content
  • Business Process and Rules Management
  • Composite Application Development Tools / User Interface Tools
  • Master Data Management
  • Integration Broker / Enterprise Service Bus
  • Bulk Data Movement and Cleansing
  • Business to Business Gateway
  • Mobile Platform / Device Management
  • Lean Consumption of Enterprise Systems
  • In-memory Database Technology
  • Cloud Based Development Tools

So what choices do you have ?

I see three patterns appearing in the SAP install base.

  • Leverage Classic SAP choosing to not deploy any new technology above
  • Evolve from Classic SAP to Composite SAP by introduction some of the above technology
  • Replace existing SAP with a clean implementation with Composite SAP rolled in from the start

Which of these is the right path for you ? This can be answered by your Enterprise Architecture and implemented by the Business Process Experts (BPX).

At its simplest level this means linking the things your business want to do with the IT capabilities that are available, or put another way can any of the "new" capabilities above help IT to help the business to do something faster, cheaper or "better". If the answer to this question is no then Leverage is probably the right path, if the answer is yes then Evolve or Replace is probably to the right path depending upon the "quality" of your current classic SAP landscape.

My main recommendation is not that you should use any of the above technology, but you should have an active Enterprise Architecture that shows either why you are using them or not. Only in this way can you ensure that your IT investments are aligned with where the money is made in the business.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What I learned at TechEd 2010 today

SAP are focused on providing both Innovation and Evolution to customers. The era of AND was introduced which I think is a good message to the SAP install base that they can move at the pace that makes sense to their business.

Evolution was provided in the following ways :-

  • The release of NetWeaver 7.30 allows form the simplification of the SAP Java landscape (Portal, CE, PI)
  • Project "Gateway" allows the opening up on SAP systems back to 4.6c if required
  • In memory databases (called HANA) allows for the non-disruptive adoption of this technology alongside existing solutions

Innovation was provided in the following ways :-

  • The release of NetWeaver 7.30 provides new features which can be exploited as part of an upgrade included improvements to BPM, Look and Feel, throughput performance and simpler operation.
  • Business Objects 4.0 brings both the Business Objects and the SAP portfolio together in a harmonised release, tools like Event Insight combined with In-memory database technology opens the possibility of true real-time analytics on massive data sets.
  • SAP are investing heavily into the cloud and more solutions will be made available in this area included ByDesign, light-weight apps (e.g Carbon Management) and River for light weight cloud composites.
  • Finally Sybase tools are in the process of being blended into the mix to allow all of the above to be "unwired"

So we are in the era of AND....























Tuesday, October 12, 2010

NetWeaver 7.30 hits the streets - Innovation and Simplification ?

NetWeaver 7.30 is a synchronised release for the following SAP Products that currently run on various version of the SAP Java Application Server :-

  • SAP Composition Environment – CE
  • SAP Process Integration - PI (Java only version)
  • SAP Portal – Enterprise Portal
  • SAP BI Java

Today this was announced at SAP TechEd – what does this announcement mean for customers ?

SAP talked about Evolution and New Horizons – my chosen words are Simplification and Innovation.


Simplification because now you can take a whole bunch of SAP products that greedily wanted their own server and put them together. This means that for the first time in about 5 years you can start talking about less hardware for NetWeaver and not more ! (just in time for you to re-use all that tin for your Business Objects 4.0 and Sybase Unwired Platform...but that is another story). A typical landscape might look like the picture below.


Innovation in that you can do more with one 7.30 box than you could before. You can take all the tools from each separate product and blend your solution across them, so if your Visual Composer applications (typical CE) needs personalisation (typically portal) and a brokered Web Service (typically PI) – all this can be done in one place.

It also means that hard pressed BASIS teams can focus training on 2 application servers (or 4 if you include BO and Sybase!) – which should smooth the delivery of applications – so more value quicker ?


Monday, October 11, 2010

"ABAP vs Java" or "ABAP and Java"

Just landed in Berlin, met up with a friend and within 5 mins we are having a disucssion about ABAP vs Java.

He putting forward the case that "everything" is moving to ABAP and me putting the case that with the advent of NetWeaver 7.30 we can look forward to further investments in the Java application server and a simplification of customers landscapes.

 So who is right ? Probably neither of us....

SAP has a massive investment in both platforms and I think they both have a place in the SAP landscape. To be honest I think we need to be talking about ABAP and Java.

Anyway looking forward to many more discussions over the next couple of days on many different topics, including Sybase, In Memory DB, DyDesign and much more....let TechEd begin :-)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

BPM and Social Media – Another BPX Community Project

Having spent the last few years trying to understand how structured BPM (Business Process Management) can help to achieve "what you see is what you get" for structured processes I can see how powerful such tools can be on finally getting agreement about how a process will actually run within a business.

However what happens to the processes where either people can't agree on the process, the process is inherently unstructured or the process is immature with some knowns and some unknowns.

It is for these reasons that I have embarked on another BPX Community Project to explore the following use-cases :-

  1. How can you include social media into structured BPM processes to inform decision making or even make it ?
  2. How can you use social media techniques to design processes in the first place ?
  3. How can you use social media techniques to evolve and dynamically improve processes ?
  4. How can you use social media to help learn from existing processes and recommend improvements ?

Currently we are in the early planning stages for the project and we would welcome input and other ideas, please add them to the BPX Wiki Page.

The goal of the project is to see if Social Media and BPM can do something neither can do on its own – namely model the way we really solve problems.