So this is the first time I’m writing a blog (and yes: I’m really excited!).
Today I would like to give you some insight into SAP’s new release strategy and explain the differences between full-blown releases and SAP enhancement packages for SAP ERP. Let’s start with this picture which shows the evolution of the architecture of SAP ERP:
With SAP R/3 4.6 and 4.7 (“Enterprise”) the SAP Web Application Server (or “Basis”) based on ABAP was the foundation of the ERP application. There was no SAP Netweaver, also the SAP industry solutions were at that time Add-Ons on top of the application. SAP started to support Unicode with SAP R/3 4.7.
With SAP ERP (version 6.0 is the latest edition) – SAP provides a solution which is built on top of SAP Netweaver, e.g the SAP Enterprise Portal can be leveraged as a unified UI for all applications, also the SAP Business Intelligence and SAP Process Integration are integral parts of SAP’s ERP solution. The application was also enhanced tremendously, with SAP ERP nearly all industry solutions became part of the application core plus tons of new functionality is ready to use. You can explore the new functionality easily with the SAP Solution Browser.
With SAP ERP 6.0 (which is the “Go-To” release), SAP stopped delivering new ERP releases – and started to provide new functionality to customers with an innovative approach: SAP enhancement packages.
SAP enhancement packages for SAP ERP include functional enhancements, industry-specific enhancements and enterprise services (ES) bundles. Right now SAP enhancement package 2 is generally available, number three is in the Ramp-Up phase.
Good to know: SAP enhancement packages have the same maintenance duration as the underlying core application, SAP ERP 6.0. As before, all legal changes and corrections will be available via Support Packages. SAP provides Support Packages for SAP ERP 6.0 on a regular basis during the defined maintenance period and, in parallel, in the equivalent Support Packages for SAP enhancement packages for SAP ERP.
Two major characteristics comprise the key difference between SAP enhancement packages for SAP ERP and other, older technologies:
1. Selective installation of software components
a) Each SAP enhancement package contains new versions of existing software components, which does not constitute an innovation on its own. But with SAP enhancement packages, you only update software components that are related to the functionality you want to use.
b) After the installation, no UI or process changes take place.
2. Selective activation of new functionality
a) New functionality must be explicitly switched on to become active in the system.
b) Changes are predictable, with changes only in the activated areas – no side effects.
Ok – that’s enough for today, more parts of this series will follow:Next time I will introduce new and important entities: “technical usage” and “business function”. Also I will write about customer experiences and how you can leverage this new concept in the most beneficial way. The technical details about the installation with the maintenance optimizer and the Installation Tools and the Switch Framework will follow, as well.