SAP MDM 7.1 SP08 is now generally available since beginning of Oct, 2011 and is available to be downloaded on SAP Service Marketplace. I have already used it during beta testing phase at different customers and I`m really impressed about it. I would like to share some of my observations with you in this Blog to convince you to push for an upgrade.
Basically I believe that this SP differs a bit to the last two SPs (SP06 and SP07) since it delivers really some key enhancements which can be used to address real business requirements and (in case you did so) can give you the chance to throw out some workarounds which you might implemented in earlier releases. You might even see that you have implemented something which still has room for optimization.
This blog does not mention all the bits and pieces and as well not all the updates and new features. If you would like to get more info you might read the Release Notes published on http://help.sap.com .
I would like to highlight 3 topics which I believe are really worth mentioning because they deliver real benefit:
1. Enhancements on Tuples
The Tuples support has been improved a lot and they go hand in hand with some enhancements in the Data Manager. On one hand side there are now enhanced tuples validation capabilities but, from my point of view, the biggest improvement has been done on the modeling part: You can now define “reverse navigation” on tuples. This means that a tuple does not have only one direction. For instance if you define a relationship by a tuple between a customer and a bank objects, you are now able to see in the bank object to which customer a relationship exists. This was only possible with workarounds in older version. If you think about having self-referring tuple-based relationships within the same table you can now really build hierarchy and even network structures. The main benefits are:
- Capacity: You can now define hierarchies with thousands of nodes and leaf nodes. Since you are defining hierarchies in main tables you do not have to limit the amount of records. This limitation is simply gone.
- Assigning none-leaf nodes: Since every node within a tuple based hierarchy is a normal record you can refer from every other record (and of course from other business objects) to that record. In the past you were only able to assign leaf nodes or manually created internal leaf nodes
- Multiple parents: Which that new capabilities you can now even build networks i.e. assigning multiple parents to a node. This business requirement exists sometimes in the real world and can now be implemented with SAP MDM 7.1 SP08.
Generally the whole approach can simplify your data model dramatically and will reduce your day to day application maintenance costs.
In addition you will reduce your development costs during the project as well since you are acting on a smller amount of tables. Importing and Exporting data will be optimized as well due to simpler mappings and faster execution on a simpler data model.
2. Updates on the User Interface
2.1 Web User Interface
In the Web UI I would like to highlight only 2 features: First, the improved maintenance of MDM Destination by a new Web based tool called “MDM Destination Administration Tool”. This tool is part of the MDM Connector component and provides a convenient user interface enabling users to establish connections between an application and an MDM system.
The second enhancements will also be good news for many business users: After searching within a hierarchy table in the web UI you can now expand all the nodes below the result set. This can speed up the daily work if you have very deep hierarchies or hierarchies with a lot of records.
In the MDM Web Dynpro Components you can now also enable a option for displaying modeling based relationships: If you maybe try this feature you will see a nice new UI popping up with a visualization of the relationships through tuples.
2.2 Data Manager
The Data Manager has also been improved with alot of new features but the features around displaying tuples are definitely worth mentioning: In record mode you are now able to display the tuple based hierarchies mentioned previously. Also data structure referring to a other main table are displayed in a “build in” modus. You can even navigate to the linked record and the Data Manager will automatically guide you to the corresponding table and/or record.
Expressions can now be copied in the expression editor. The SAP MDM Data Manager as well:
- Displays now who/which user has checked out a record,
- Displays with the new SP directly the remote keys within the record mode and
- Is able to define assignments on tuples!
- Is able to do mass updates on Tuples.
The value is obviously: Reduce implementation cost for the project manager; less stressed developer or data modeler.
On the administration side, there are also important new features:
- You can now define performance tracing as option in the MDM Console (for all MDM server types). This option logs information about each MDM activity completed on a server, helping to identify where performance bottlenecks may be occurring. Performance tracing can be enabled from the server configuration (.ini) file, CLIX, or from within MDM Console.
- Delta syndications can now be executed on Port level. This is important if you have define multiple ports for one system and you want to suppress unchanged records for each port. This was not possible in the past and your workaround was maybe to add more and more remote systems.
- Secure connections directly to Microsoft AD by SLDAP.
The enhancements on the Administration side will enable you to work more efficiently and to reduce operating costs.
Finally I would like to mention that I really believe that the new SP will
a) save time during implementation phase,
b) optimize the administration and the corresponding costs and
c) improve the usability of the MDM solution to be able to manage master data more accurate and simple.
BTW: I would like to thank especially Richard Savery to help me on some of that content. In addition i would like to thank Vic Hansen for all the support and valuable thinking he shared with me not only on this work.