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Building a central Launchpad using SAP Cloud Platform Launchpad service – Integrating with Remote Content Providers

In this blog post, I cover a key concept on the integration of the launchpad with remote content providers like S/4HANA and SAP Enterprise Portal.

 

Building a central Launchpad using SAP Cloud Platform Launchpad

Part 1 – Getting Started

Part 2 – Understanding the options around developing HTML5 apps in Cloud Foundry

Part 3 – Developing HTML5 apps

Part 4 – Integrating HTML5 apps with the Central Fiori Launchpad

Part 5 – Integrating 3rd Party apps with the Central Fiori Launchpad

Part 6 – Integrating chatbots with the Central Fiori Launchpad

Part 7 – Integrating with remote content providers

 

At the time of writing this, there are two content providers which are supported with the Launchpad service. Its now possible to expose the contents from these content providers in a common data model (CDM) format and access them from the launchpad on SAP Cloud Platform. All the applications remain in your respective backend systems. The integration of remote provider is done at the role level. This means all the contents under the roles – like apps/groups/catalog will be accessible from the launchpad service. The role of the Launchpad is to federate these contents and bring them together in a central launchpad.

In the previous blog post, I also covered integrating bespoke HTML5 apps which are deployed in the SAP Cloud Platform account. In this scenario, SAP Cloud Platform is a content provider providing access to HTML5 apps within the Launchpad service.

When planning to configure your S/4HANA system, ensure that its has a Front-End Server 2020. Similarly, SAP Enterprise portal needs to be atleast NW 7.5 SP19 to be able to federate the contents in the Central Launchpad.

Now let’s get into the actual setup which are required to be in place for federating contents from remote content providers. I will be using a S/4HANA system for this blog post.

Connectivity Options

You can enable access to the apps in your S/4HANA system from the central Fiori Launchpad either via direct access or tunneled access. Direct access refers to the users accessing the apps in the central Fiori Launchpad within the corporate network. This can be setup using a SAP Webdispatcher. However, the most common scenario is to leverage SAP Cloud Connector for the tunneled access. In this scenario, SAP Cloud Connector setup a secure tunnel through which all the API calls, Fiori/Webdynpro apps from S/4HANA system are surfaced to the central Launchpad. Users will be able to access apps outside the corporate network and this approach is recommended for mobile scenarios.

The setup of SAP Cloud Connector is documented in many tutorials and blog posts. For this blog post, I have configured my Cloud Connector to connect to my SAP Cloud Platform subaccount and exposed an on-premise S/4HANA system.

Destinations

In order to communicate with a remote content provider, you will need to have a design-time and runtime destinations configured.  The design-time destination is required to fetch the contents that are exposed via the remote content provider. You can use a Technical User in the destination.

The runtime destination will be used during the runtime when users access the Central Fiori Launchpad. It defines the locations from where the resources/app will be obtained. Note, for this destination, in a productive setting, you would need to use “PrincipalPropagation” as authentication method. This is required for Single Sign-on and propagating the user to the backend system.

 

Setup of Content Provider

As an admin of S/4HANA system, you would need to expose the apps by selecting specific roles. To expose the role, you would need to launch the transaction /UI2/CDM3_EXP_SCOPE.

Once you select one or more roles and click on expose, you will get to see the logs with a message stating that the contents have been exposed. All the related contents such as catalogs, groups, apps can be consumed in the launchpad now.

SAP Help Reference: Managing Content for Launchpads on SAP Cloud Platform

Setup of Launchpad service

In the launchpad service, you will need to create a new content provider referring to the S/4HANA system which has been setup.

In the “New content provider” popup, provide a name and reference the two destinations which were created earlier. In the “Content addition mode” you can choose between Manual or Automatic. Manual mode means you will have the flexibility to pick and choose which roles/contents you want to add to “My Content” tab enabling you to work on those contents. Automatic mode will by default bring in all the exposed contents in the “My Content” tab.

Once your content provider has been configured, you can edit the settings or fetch updated contents (when there are changes to the source system)

Now we can move over to the Content Explorer in the menu “Content Manager” and locate the newly added content provider.

This will list all the roles which you have exposed from the S/4HANA system. As an admin, you can select them and click on “Add to My Content”

You can also click on the respective roles to explore the apps which are assigned to them.

Switching to the “My Content” tab will show the newly added roles. Notice the name of the content provider in the “Provider” column.

The next step is to add these roles to a launchpad site. Click on a site settings icon for which you would like to assign these roles.

Assign the relevant roles which are available from your contents. In the below screenshot, I have added roles which have been locally created “Sales” and few roles from the remote content provider. Also, notice that I have enabled “Pages and Spaces” setting to see the apps grouped as spaces/pages in the Fiori Launchpad (similar to what is available in S/4HANA). Here is a blog post if you like to know more about the new space concept in Fiori Launchpad – Get to Know the New Spaces Concept for SAP Fiori Launchpad

Role Assignments

Before accessing the Fiori Launchpad, relevant roles need to be assigned to the user in order to see the app from the remote content provider. Importing the roles from the provider system, creates a corresponding role collection in SAP Cloud Platform. As you can see below, it has the format ~<Provider Name>_<Role Name>.

Within the identity Provider settings, you can either directly assign the role collection to your user or map them to an SAML attribute from your Identity Provider.

Please check the roadmap on the availability of IAG/IPS integration to automate the role provisioning and assignments.

Once the roles have been assigned to the users, the respective apps will show up in the Fiori Launchpad. As you can see below, each role from the S/4HANA system shows up as a space at the top. Within the space (example Accounts Payable space shown below), there are multiple pages and the user can navigate to each of those pages to access the relevant apps which reside in a S/4HANA system.

If you have any questions related to integration of remote content providers, please raise a question in the forum with the “SAP Cloud Platform launchpad” tag.

Credits to my colleague Sibylle Brehm for helping me setup this scenario.

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