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SAP BI meets DevOps

Shifting up a gear: If you run your own software development within your organization, you can no longer avoid DevOps. The advantages are manifold. Especially when it comes to accelerating processes.
Max Mohrwinkel, Windhoff Group
Nils van der Linde, vdL Consulting
May 17, 2023
DevOps column
This text has been automatically translated from German to English.

The fact that SAP BI can be combined with DevOps was recently demonstrated by a project at a telecommunications service provider. Anyone who keeps up to date with the latest technical developments has certainly come across the term DevOps. In principle, this approach is about improving collaboration between software development (Development) and IT operations (Operations). Dev tools and agile working methods are used for this purpose. From the point of view of a software developer, the main idea is to generate added value through the use of DevOps, from which everyone involved benefits.

Standard case and yet different

In principle, the project was a standard case. Various BI artifacts such as LCMBIAR files had to be moved regularly to ensure an up-to-date data situation when creating reports in SAP BO, for example. A special feature, however, was that the customer had different environments. In simplified terms, there was initially a general environment in which changes were "deployed".

The next step, however, was to play out these changes at the next level, a high-security environment. However, this was only possible via a manual process lasting several days. This involved manually copying files from server to server. Release cycles thus extended to a period of up to two weeks.

This situation was self-evidently not satisfactory. With the Git pipeline, only direct deployment to the simple environment with the same security release was possible. So a bridge to the next level was needed. 

The solution was a new automated process that checked for changes on a protected branch via GitLab's API using a small script. It also obtained security clearance and tested the deployment through automated pipelines before each deployment by committing to the protected branch.

No deployment without approval

By automating the data status transfer including the security check, the boundary between the environments became permeable and an extreme acceleration took place. It should be noted that this kind of acceleration through automated deployment via GitLab is not actually intended by SAP.

There was one more hurdle to overcome. The security requirements on the part of our customer's IT security were very high. Our solution met these high requirements because our script was used to pull the deployment to the high-security environment. This made it possible to avoid storing access data for the environment on systems with a lower security clearance. On this subject, it was the first ever acceptance in a corporate environment. This is a unique selling point.

The result of this customized solution speaks for itself: a process that previously took two weeks has been reduced to three minutes! The added value for all stakeholders is beyond question here. The streamlining saves time, money and other resources. However, this result was only possible because the usual SAP environment was left behind and DevOps was included. This bridging between different areas is not available off the shelf. It requires experts who look beyond their own specialist horizons, including the SAP tool landscape.

Definition deployment

The term "deployment" stands for the distribution and provision of software. It is important that deployment takes place via (semi-) automated processes.

Max Mohrwinkel, Windhoff Group

Nils van der Linde, vdL Consulting

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Regular ticket
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