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Maintaining Control in Hybrid Landscapes

To achieve a seamless operation, a hybrid IT landscape is not a panacea; there are still plenty of pitfalls.

Complexity is the greatest challenge of hybrid systems that combine cloud and “on premise” structures. It is necessary to ensure the interoperability of individual functions, new interfaces, and data formats. Problems that arise range from erroneous scores and forecasts, to delays in workflow, and finally to complete system failure during error analysis and correction. Two SAP applications, taken from customer reports, illustrate the tasks, challenges, and solutions users are facing.

Free SAP IBP from time control

SAP IBP (Integrated Business Planning) has become a powerful tool in just a few years. Companies use the cloud-based integrated business planning system to plan and manage their supplies and supply chains, operations and sales activities, inventory and demand management. The management system combines planning and forecasting functions. It consists of modules and obtains process data from various source systems such as SAP BW and SAP CPI. To do this, the source systems must provide and aggregate the data in advance. As usual with SAP, the control of the processes is time-dependent; the allocations follow a predefined schedule. In other words, data cannot be loaded in real time because IBP does not recognize when it is available. This automatically results in a loss of time. If errors occur within the system chain, the entire process may even come to a standstill. In practice, IT staff then tidy up the database, manually enter the missing data, check everything, and restart the system. This is usually done at night in order to disrupt ongoing operations as little as possible.

However, manual processes are often outsourced to third-party departments that lack expertise. If mistakes occur, IT staff must repeat the entire process, even if everything runs smoothly for the first few hours. As a result, systems are at a standstill for hours, or even days. Automation provides a solution to this: scheduling software automates, initiates, and coordinates the processes. In contrast to classic job schedulers, modern workload automation solutions (WLA) have hybrid controls and can operate any interface. As soon as data arrives from SAP BW or SAP CPI, further processing in SAP IBP begins automatically. Data from other sources, such as suppliers or key data, can also be integrated. Workload Automation simultaneously supervises the tasks through clear monitoring. Ideally, it is also possible to “cure” faulty processes. Like a good doctor, WLA looks at a system’s medical history and administers the medicine that leads to its recovery.

Shepherd tends to his herd

Automation thus offers an answer to problems that have caused disruptions in other systems in the past. The problem being that various products, partly from different technologies and interfaces, need to work together but cannot always do so, as the products do not function across different interfaces. Data is not loaded up to date, which leads to incorrect forecasts, and planning and processes come to a standstill. SAP needs a shepherd to guide, coordinate, and safely lead the sheep through the gates. What good is useful software like SAP IBP if it generates incorrect forecasts, or stalls? WLA can be that shepherd; it keeps track of everything.

Help for SAP Steward

A customer from the financial industry came to us and reported similar problems: incorrect scores and process delays. The software he was using was SAP Information Steward. The software helps manage business data and perform enterprise-wide data analysis. It continuously checks the quality of data and alerts users to errors and problems early on. This allows risks to be identified more quickly and business results to be improved. In theory. Information Steward consists of various SAP modules such as the Cleansing Package Builder, Data Insight, and Metadata Management. In addition, the software draws on other modules such as SAP FI, AFI, CML, and TRM. The processes are also controlled chronologically. The dependency on different systems regularly leads to delays or errors in the calculations and, as a result, generates an inaccurate score value. In this case, Workload Automation can also take over the control of the data. The system does not begin calculations until all the data is clean. Additionally, sequential and parallel processing also saves time. This drastically reduces nighttime processing and downtime.

Maintaining an overview in all complexity

WLA/Job Scheduling is an important tool to cope with the complexity of hybrid IT landscapes. Algorithms submit jobs, workloads, or batch processes to automate workflows across a variety of modules and tools. In short, you maintain an overview in hybrid landscapes, despite new technologies. This reduces downtime and cuts back on manual work.

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