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Support for you SAP PI/PO development process

I’m pretty thrilled about our latest development of the Figaf IRT tool for SAP Integration.

When I started doing XI 3.0 work I was really frustrated with the way things were documented. It was a really manual process that users needed to follow. The documentation was never updated. Now 14 years later I can see that we got a tool that can help in the cases. We can now help you really document what has changed automatically.

So a month ago I found that we could leverage the tools we had created for the IRT tool to support the full development lifecycle. Today we are releasing the first version of it. It is not perfect and there are some holes but it clearly shows which direction we can do with it. Hopefully, you will also be able to see the benefit of it.

The different steps in the process are the following:

  • Alerts are raised from a PI Message using standard alerting.
    • Create rules for how to handle alerts
  • Perform your development in Repository/NWDS
  • Create a ticket to with a link to the incident
    • Assign the changes to the ticket
    • You can see the differences I the mappings
  • The test is performed to ensure it works
    • Base on the Figaf IRT test tool that allows users to create test case fast based on i.e. production data

I have created a video to show what we are able to do with the tool.

We still have a few things to work with to with making it better and cover more of the development cycle, but it is always better with customer feedback. So if you have any things that would help in your process do let us know.

You can download the tool for free at https://figaf.com/irt

 

 

Latest Figaf IRT tool and Roadmap

Updated 2018-06-03

With the newest release of Figaf IRT tool, we have been adding a lot of new functionality.

In this presentation, you will see how to test SAP PI/PO and SAP Cloud Integration.

  • The testing of SAP PI/PO is stable for collecting and getting test messages. It is fast to record messages for testing and running them is also fast.
  • Testing SAP Cloud Platform Integration is possible
  • Development Supporting is now in the system that allows you to create tickets and assign any object version to it.
  • Change Tracking now have a deep comparison of Repository Objects so you can see what is changed with a message mapping and contains a link so you can see the affected ICO, that should be tested.
  • Support tool to monitor errors in the SAP PI CMBA and setup triggers for it.

In the current roadmap, we have the ability to fetch test data on SAP PI/PO without installing a module. And to perform object change and the support on Cloud Integration.

Everything has been build into one application that allows users to develop faster and have better tracking of what will happen.

You can start a free trial of the IRT tool by going to https://figaf.com/irt

If you have any questions please reach out to us.

 

 

Migrate from Seeburger to SAP PI B2B Addon webinar

Yesterday I hosted a webinar where we covered how to migrate from Seeburger on SAP PI to B2B Addon on SAP PO.

In the webinar, I covered some of the biggest challenges with migration.

  • How to create a business case for it. This is one of the challenges that I cannot help that much with, the main reason would be to the Seeburger Licensing. I’m unclear what it would mean.
  • How to convert the mappings. The message structures have changed, so you will need to update the schemas. It is not much but you need to do it correctly to ensure nothing is changed.
  • How to get rid of the seeburger User-Defined functions. The B2B Add-on have some different approaches to variables and counters, you probably need to upgrade the mappings to ensure that it works smoothly.
  • How to ensure everything is tested correctly. You don’t want to coordinate a migration with your partners more than necessary. So you just want to move the mappings and then ensure you have tested enough in the process.

I have two products that work to improve such a migration

Seeburger Migration Tool to migrate your mappings from the old format to the new. https://figaf.com/SMT

Figaf SAP PI testing tool IRT  https://figaf.com/IRT

To learn more have a look at the webinar replay.

Or have a look at the slides from the presentation

 

The Goldilocks Zone of Change management for SAP PI

Setting the correct change management procedure can be challenging. You need to capture the right things and not too much.

For one SAP PI/PO client, I just had to do development in Dev, and then move to production to test. I was really uncomfortable doing this.
Another client requires a lot more effort to do the transportations needed. Here is multiple checks and validations to do transports. Here it takes too long time to do something.

That is the reason I believe there is a Goldilocks zone for change management you need to do not too little and not too much.

In many places, people are just trying to implement the same changes that they have to do ERP changes. Which is probably not ideal for transporting SAP PI/PO objects. I have been spending a lot of time making documentation that was not ideal.

In my example where I had to change a field in the XML formats it would be nice if I could mark the changes and then use it. The more manual work you are going to do the more difficult it will be to make the documentation and ensure it is correct. And how do you find it when it is necessary. So at the client, I worked where we had a lot of documentation we could just capture a few lines text about what we had done on the interface. Finding it again would be difficult because how did you find the message mapping information.

 

For SAP PI/PO we are working to improve our Change Tracking tool that allows you to do better change management on your landscape. We have currently been looking at just directory objects, but in the next, release we will also have documentation of repository objects. This will allo you to assign a ticket and a description of why something was changed. You can then see for a message mapping when something was changed in it and why. You can also do an easy comparing between the versions to find the differences.

Read more at http://figaf.com/ctt

 

Updating a SAP PI/PO system, what to think about.

Do you open iPhone/Android apps that have not been updated for 1 year. I have 3 apps on my phone not updated in 2018. Yet most companies do not upgrade vital systems for years. This post is around updating your SAP PI/PO system.

Your SAP Integration

In all organization is Integration really important. It must run 24/7 without interruptions or problems to ensure that your IT systems function optimally. The integration layer connects everything and is therefore critical in all processes.

As developers, we have to be at agile and develop integration today so the business can start using it and get the benefit of it today. This contradicts normal system development because the amount of paperwork and testing can take a lot of time.

I hope this post will give you some insight into how to keep your SAP PI/PO system update and what is really useful in that case.

Takeaway

To make the upgrade/update easier, ensure you have automated your testing. Have a look at Figaf IRT to improve the test

 

What is the current status

If you are on SAP PI/PO 7.5 SP 8 or above you are probably one of the few companies that keep the system updated to the latest release. In the survey from 2016, there was a large number of users still on releases prior to 7.31. The number adds up to some strange percentages but it shows that a lot of users still use the old platforms. SAP PI 7.31 is from around 2011 so it is pretty old in a world that change so much. 7.5 is from fall 2015. You would probably not start an iPhone/Android app that has not been updated for 2 years.

The two main reasons why companies are not using the latest release is the following

  1. It is too difficult to get the system upgraded. This document covers this part
  2. They are licensed differently

The difference with the license is that SAP Process Integration was licensed pr number of GB traffic sent to Non SAP systems. Process Orchestration is licensed based on the number of cores in your system so it may be a little strange converting the two and many have found it expensive.

There are some ways you can reduce the price by limiting the number of cores.

  • There may be a saving in the number of cores if you move to a newer processor architecture so it can reduce the new price.
  • You can also run the database on a separate system, so you are not paying for cores only used for database activity.
  • Setup message prioritization so you have batch messages being processed slower.

Why Update the SAP PO system

There is a number of benefits of having an updated system at your disposal.

  • SAP Bugs: It has the potential to backfire when implementing new scenarios you could run into problems bugs in the software that you need SAP to fix. So once you find bugs report them to SAP you are asked to upgrade to a new patch. And if you just patch are you then sure nothing else is broken in the process. See the section on update types and patches.
  • Security: All systems have security bugs that are fixed from time to time. There has not been that many security problems in SAP PI/PO system. It would still be an important target for hackers to get access to. So if something critical is found it should be fixed fast.
  • Latest release: You want to be on the latest release to be able to get the new functionality so it can be used to enhance your scenarios. Most features will come in the newest Support Pack that way you can start using it without having to do any workarounds. This is true if you want to run Cloud Integration Content locally, where there is a lot of work going on.
  • Continued support: SAP has a limit on how long time they will be supporting each release and if you get too close to the limit you will have to pay a higher maintenance cost.
  • SAP Support cost: What would happen if SAP only had to support tools 1 year back, then it would be much easier to maintain the code and ad new functionality.

 

The cost involved with updating the systems

Each time you must perform an upgrade or update of the systems there is a number of the cost associated with it. I have tried to list them below at a high level.  

  • Installation cost of installation of the new software on all SAP PI systems can take time. SOLMAN should help to make the installation process easier
  • Testing of the installed system can be a rather big process. It often requires the developer, business experts to do a lot of testing to ensure that it works. This is probably the most costly part of all the upgrade.
  • Downtime for the upgrade. Near Zero Downtime is a hot topic at SAP and it makes it easier to do different types of upgrade without affecting the business. It is also a costly procedure and many organization may skip it so they PI systems can be down for up to a weekend. This always causes problems.
  • Developers may not be able to develop or deliver new functionality while the upgrade is in progress
  • Then there the once that fit into your organization.

 

Different update types

So there’s a couple of different updates types that you can use whenever you are doing SAP PI development. I will cover them in this section.

 

  • Patch:  a patch fixes barks in the current release and it’s not adding new features. It is a cumulative patch so once it is applied it will include all other bug fixes found in the support pack. So you don’t really know what changes are made to the code in the period. Many upgrades also have dependencies to other components so you may have to upgrade may different components to get one updated correctly. This could then lead to other problems.
  • Support package:  a support package add new functionality to the system to follow customer requirements. It also contains some patches of the previous release to fix the bugs in it.
  • Release:  a release is adding new functionality but most important other deployment options like new java versions or support for other databases. It may add new functionality, not in previous releases and contains an updated Support Pack. There has not been any talk on any new version above 7.5.
  • Migration:  one of the upgrades that a lot of people are doing is immigration from a dual stack system to a single stack system this is not really an update but it also counts as a major change in your environment. Most customers would use a new system to do this migration and then move all the different countries that have over to it.

 

What can go wrong with an upgrade

There is a number of things that can go wrong with an update to the standard components. I have seen the following things happen in my time applying patches or support packs. This is the things that should be found in your testing.

Message mapping is changed. This is the most common change. The message mapping framework is complex and rather delicate, so once something is changed it affects other processes. It could be the way User Defined Function is evaluated for complex queues or how it is evaluated if a node is correct.

In this occasion, the problem may only be affected by the few elements where you use a specific function of the framework in the mapping. I have seen four different cases of those changes, where it sometimes only is seen in production because the testing was not complete enough. So some messages failed in production, while a solution should be created. And what happens if the messages do not fail but just give a different output.

Adapters are changed. New functionality has to be added to an adapter so it may behave differently in the scenario that you are using. Sometimes there has been changed to the adapter specific attributes. This will mean that the adapter does not function as you expect and the integration will not work.

Modules are changed. The SAP is providing a number of different modules and they may change. This is not often they are changed, but I would expect that the B2B modules could be a little fragile and when combined with custom content for flat file conversion.

Your own code could change. If your code relies on any SAP or Java libraries the functionality may change in the process.

Something else there is room for other problems to occur like routing or use of Trading Partner Management functionality.

How to test?

There are different ways that you can test your SAP PI/PO solution and they all have advantages and disadvantages. The more you are able to test fast the better because then you don’t have to worry about the changes.

End to end test

An end to end test that you test all components in the flow. You start with the sending system to create the document that you are looking to use, the document is processed in the SAP PI/PO system and delivered to the receiving system.

This is a very time-consuming process to set up and ensures it works. You can either automate it with scripts or just make it manually. In both cases, it takes a lot of effort to create, maintain or execute.

Unit test

The unit test allows you to test just the part that is changing. You are just testing the SAP PI/PO system it is only that part you want to test. Most would just test the message mapping, or just run it to see that it functions. Or you can send in the message in using the test tool in SAP PI and download the response. It is a way to test, though not optimal.

Automated Unit testing

Both of the options for testing is too time-consuming. It takes much time to perform the test each time you upgrade, or just to setup the test cases. That is why I created the Figaf IRT tool for SAP PI. It is a tool that simply allows you to collect a bunch of test data and you can use to test your interface.

So we are narrowly focused on testing just the SAP PI/PO interface, that mean you just select which ICO’s you want to do testing on. Then the system automatically fetches test data from your production system, which is then used as a baseline. To run a test it sends this set of recorded messages into the test SAP PI system and gets a result. The two output message is then compared to ensure they are identical.

A customer has reported they were able to set up test cases 300 ICOs in just 3 weeks. So it is something that is fast to setup compared to a normal End to End test.

The best tool on the market to make it easy to test the things is Figaf IRT, a tool build around optimizing the SAP PI/PO test to be done fast.