DSAG Technology Days: Integration becomes a key factor
The Technology Days organized by the German-speaking SAP User Group (Deutschsprachige SAP-Anwendergruppe e. V., DSAG) at the World Conference Center Bonn welcomed 2,500 participants this year, surpassing 2018's record. The event's slogan was "Do IT yourself. Transitioning to the cloud: think together, act individually." The focus was on what challenges companies have in common as they migrate to the cloud, how IT organizations should prepare, and which requests and requirements can be passed on to SAP.
Our work environments are becoming digitalized with an unprecedented pace and force. Digital services and technology are increasingly becoming differentiating elements in supply chains – which means the success of many companies relies on their IT expertise. The deployment of cloud technology plays a decisive role in this respect.
Cloud first, yes – cloud only, no
"The cloud is the right strategic choice for many new investments. However, not all apps and data will migrate to the cloud – and certainly not just for the sake of the cloud," asserts DSAG CTO Steffen Pietsch. His motto is, "Cloud first, yes, cloud only, no." For many companies, the cloud provides access to innovations, scalability, elasticity, and the ability to outsource operations that are not their core competencies. The public cloud is a strategic growth market with huge potential for many providers – including SAP.
At the same time, there are several obstacles to overcome: lots of businesses have invested huge amounts in purchasing and customizing SAP software and pay high maintenance fees for the on-premise portfolio. So, these companies are also expecting that older products will continue to be developed and that legal requirements will be implemented. Before changing over, the corresponding cloud solutions must offer advanced functionality or at least be on a par with the current on-premise offering.
Nevertheless, Steffen Pietsch considers transitioning to the cloud to be a good strategy. To master the complexity associated with a hybrid system landscape, he sees automation, integration, and quality as crucial.
To ensure a high pace of innovation, it must be possible to develop and implement new solutions quickly, and to execute changes to existing systems and processes quickly. This necessitates the end-to-end automation of SAP solutions. Test automation, security checks at a configuration and code level, plus comprehensive monitoring are particularly critical. "On the whole, I see the SAP standard as offering too little support for the end-to-end automation of development and operational processes," says Steffen Pietsch, adding: "I would like to see significantly better integrated solutions or solution modules that provide companies with a smooth transition to the cloud – whether it's developments by SAP or the integration of open source solutions."
Future-proof interface management
Many business processes are currently executed via multiple applications, leading to an increased number of applications and the deployment of different types of technology. This is where integration is the decisive factor, both on a technical and semantic level. Steffen Pietsch is therefore calling on SAP to provide an API-first strategy (Application Programming Interface, API) that makes all of an application's functions and data accessible via public, standardized, and documented interfaces. "The targeted implementation of an API-first strategy for both on-premise and cloud-based solutions is a key requirement for integrating in-house developments, partner solutions, and third-party software with SAP," states Steffen Pietsch. Furthermore, he says: "The benefit of integrating two or more SAP solutions with one another must lie in semantically compatible data models. Only then does integration work out of the box."
New quality requirements
SAP is evolving from a software developer into a cloud solutions and platform operator. With this, customers' quality expectations and requirements are also changing. While the main buzzwords used to be user friendliness, accuracy, and completeness, today they are scalability, elasticity, reliability and availability, self-services, and automation, as well as best practices, reference architectures, and training concepts that are designed for 2-week releases instead of annual developments.
Security remains a central quality feature. To guarantee security in hybrid landscapes, SAP must provide even better support for safeguarding systems. This begins with "security by default," so software components that are securely configured on delivery. Because IT landscapes mostly comprise complex system combinations, corresponding security management tools are required. These are all important issues that SAP and DSAG are looking at together.
Besides these main technological challenges, participants at DSAG's two-day spring event also discussed the DSAG Academy in more detail. The initiative aims to support member companies with recruiting and training new employees and will kick off with the free event "Business meets Academia" on March 13, 2019 in Stuttgart. For more information, visit www.dsag.de/academy.