Single code page SAP systems heading towards history – Unicode Only Future!
The next step in the transition to Unicode at SAP is just around the corner actually sneaking in with the New Year while we are partying. So what delights does 2007 bring us?
As of the end of 2006, all new releases of SAP NetWeaver and SAP applications based on SAP NetWeaver will only be available for installation based on Unicode.
This next step on the road to Unicode is probably an obvious one for those observant globalization readers of SDN and the SAP Service Marketplace but this now puts a definitive stake in the ground in regard to what and when. Before we go into details, it might help to know a little background about the SAP globalization solutions for supporting representation of multiple language character combinations:
- The first step for SAP was to work on the Unicode standard itself with other technology companies. We had prior SAP workaround stop gap solutions but Unicode was the ultimate goal. Once Unicode was defined and implemented, SAP delivered versions on all SAP applications that supported Unicode.
- The second step was to provide robust and productized conversion tools for all application, whether the source is a single code, a blended code page, or an MDMP based application (much better than delivering fragile and pre-production quality tools, dont you think? 😉 ).
- The next step was to phase out the older workaround technologies used to support multi-language requirements prior to Unicode. Blended code pages were de-supported with the release of SAP NetWeaver Application Server 6.10 (and therefore for SAP applications based on SAP NetWeaver AS 6.10 or higher). New MDMP installations for SAP R/3/mySAP ERP were not possible starting with the release of mySAP ERP 2004. Finally MDMP is no longer supported as of mySAP ERP 2005 – only single code pages and Unicode (to view a weblog on this click Globalization: End of full support for MDMP implementations)
- The latest step is that all new applications and SAP NetWeaver capabilities will only be built and delivered as Unicode solutions (example of these applications include SAP NetWeaver Exchange infrastructure, SAP NetWeaver Master Data Management, any J2EE based SAP applications, etc)
So this brings us to today and the announcement covered in this weblog. So what are the important points of the Unicode customer announcement and what does it mean to you:
1. Every SAP Customer was sent a letter in April 2006 notifying them of this change. It is a possibility that this letter did not reach the system administrators/landscape architects in your company – it is probably sitting on the desk of someone who signed the SAP contract and is still wondering what Unicode and bits are but afraid to ask anyone. Yes, this the same person who gets the regular shipments of service release CDs, all requested SAP Applications CD shipments, and is invariably always on holiday when you desperately need to get that CD for the installation. But I digress; you can find a copy of the letter at this link: Customer letter
Please note that there is also information in the customer letter about the de-support of 32 bit for new SAP installations! My colleague Matt Kangas has an informative and entertaining weblog on that topic you can access this Will You Still Love Me When I’m 64?. 64 bit processing is a real asset for delivering Unicode solutions.
2. This change only really effects NEW installations of SAP NetWeaver and SAP applications based on SAP NetWeaver that were previously available with non-Unicode installation options (e.g. mySAP xxx business suite applications, SAP xApps, and the BI and (ABAP) AS capabilities of SAP NetWeaver). Remember only the ABAP stack supported single code pages in the past – J2EE is only Unicode.
3. Existing installations of SAP NetWeaver and SAP applications based on SAP NetWeaver that were based on single code pages can be upgraded to the new releases WITHOUT having to convert to Unicode. This is really cool as it protects your existing investments and you can live in the non Unicode world for a little longer. Please do remember that MDMP will not be an option for mySAP ERP customers this solution was de-supported as of the mySAP ERP 2005 release!
4. For those administrators worried about processes that require some of the installation tools (i.e. those much loved system copies that you are asked to do much too often!), SAP will still deliver tools to enable you to do this for single code page based system. I guess some administrators would prefer that we did not make the tools available. That way they could tell the business users to tidy up their own data and not rely on system copies to provide refreshes for them! 🙂
5. For clarification – Unicode does not simultaneously translate from one spoken language to another (Youd be surprising how often this is asked!).
Another additional clarification – contrary to some popular beliefs Unicode is not the name of a small, yellow, leechlike fish that is probably the oddest thing in the Universe. That is another globalization solution from far away in future whose species was hijacked by a translation tool (I hope Mr. Adams estate is getting royalties!). Just in case there was some confusion or misplaced beliefs in this area, check out this Link for more information on the other globalization solution for your amusement.
6. Customers can convert to Unicode now assuming that they are on the minimum supported Unicode releases and do not have to wait for the delivery of all new releases of SAP NetWeaver and SAP applications based on SAP NetWeaver after 2007. SAP strongly recommends that customer’s consider Unicode conversions in the short term as a per-active step and to potentially reduce the need for further resources and monetary costs further down the road as you systems grow.
So there you have it, a whirlwind tour of the upcoming changes for SAP NetWeaver and applications built on SAP NetWeaver from the end of 2006 onward.
Nothing travels faster than the speed of light with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own special laws. So I hope the weblog was somewhat informative and good, otherwise you may have read it before I finished it
All the best,