IT Automation for SAP S/4HANA, ECC, and R/3 (At the Same Time)
On average, a company has gone live on SAP S/4HANA once every business hour since 2020. The momentum of organizations transitioning from SAP R/3 or SAP ECC to SAP’s next-generation ERP is quite impressive.
However, as with any migration, some organizations are learning that automation tools, which worked for R/3 and ECC, may no longer work for the S/4HANA on-premises edition or the S/4HANA cloud edition. Also, because the transition period takes time, SAP customers are trying to find a way to bridge the gap.
Job scheduling and process automation are two such automation-focused areas that leave something to be desired for SAP customers. After all, the right automation toolset is a critical part of making the most of your investment in SAP’s intelligent ERP. This article will discuss the current automation approaches leveraged within legacy SAP solutions, what options SAP customers have going forward, and provide a primer on how the Stonebranch Universal Automation Center helps.
Approaches to Job Scheduling and Process Automation within SAP
To schedule background jobs and process workflows within their SAP environments, many SAP customers use tools like SAP SM36/SM37, SAP Business Process Automation (BPA) by Redwood, SAP Central Process Scheduling (CPS) by Redwood, or the SAP Solution Manager.
Each tool works as it was designed. However, there are limitations that SAP customers are more than familiar with tackling. Either they are restricted to performing automation only within SAP’s application(s), or they are built upon legacy automation platforms that will only support NetWeaver, leaving S/4HANA cloud edition customers searching for an alternative.
Additionally, the above SAP job scheduling approaches don’t support both legacy SAP solutions and S/4HANA at the same time, leaving customers to search for a way to bridge the gap during lengthy transitions.
To improve the management of automated processes within SAP ERP applications, as well as non-SAP tools, many organizations turn to workload automation (WLA) solutions. When integrated with SAP, a modern WLA solution, and its job-scheduling capabilities, will deliver end-to-end visibility of every automated workflow within a business. Plus, modern WLA solutions are designed to work across any number of applications and platforms at the same time, making them an ideal way to centrally orchestrate automated processes during a migration between SAP ERP environments.
Introducing the Universal Automation Center for SAP
Stonebranch’s Universal Automation Center (UAC) is an alternative to historic SAP job scheduling and business process automation approaches. As a full-featured workload automation solution, certified by SAP for NetWeaver and S/4HANA (cloud and on-prem), the UAC helps organizations to:
- Schedule jobs on SAP ECC (or R/3), SAP S/4HANA, and cloud-based FIORI applications simultaneously, which allows SAP users to bridge the gap during a transition from legacy ERP solutions to S/4HANA (cloud or on-prem).
- Replace or enhance job schedulers that either lack functionality or will no longer be supported by SAP in the near future.
- Replace the legacy SAP ERP solution flat-file batch interface jobs with modern integration approaches that make real-time automation possible
- Power your transition from on-prem to the cloud by centrally managing jobs across a hybrid IT environment.
- Create sophisticated workflows that run jobs across both SAP and on other third-party applications.
In addition, UAC offers the ability to manage automation for all job processes, file transfers, and process chains from a centralized, fully audit-proven web GUI that provides a single-pane-of-glass view of all IT processes, end-to-end, via dashboards equipped with alerting and auditing capabilities.
Key Features of Universal Automation Center
Stonebranch’s Universal Automation Center simplifies the way operational staff, application developers, and business users define and manage end-to-end SAP-based business processes.
Centralized Real-Time Control
The Universal Automation Center dashboard provides a real-time view of all SAP and non-SAP jobs. Also, SAP customers can build and manage highly visual workflows that will connect SAP and non-SAP applications across both on-prem and cloud environments.
- UAC’s real-time dashboard allows a centralized setup, control, and monitoring of all business processes using a fully customizable web GUI.
- Model your SAP process to consist of SAP, non-SAP and file-transfer tasks in a single workflow.
- Self-service-enabled configuration and operation. Plus, end-users may choose to orchestrate jobs from a web-based browser or the standard SAP interface.
- The drill-down functionality allows job analysis up to the level of system log files (for example, an SAP job log), even while the ABAP script is executing in SAP.
Cloud-Based SaaS Solution with Zero Installation Required
Universal Automation Center is available as either an on-premises or high availability cloud-based solution in AWS. All scheduling-related tasks, from the configuration of SAP and non-SAP jobs to daily operations and auditing, can be performed using a single Universal Controller web GUI. When deploying in the cloud, UAC is immediately available. No installation is required on your local SAP system, as the connection to SAP is done via the direct UAC SAP Connector.
- Operate SAP scheduling from anywhere.
- Unify all services, users, and processes into a single, easy-to-manage solution.
- High availability with geo-redundancy.
- Secure: SAML, SAP SNC (e.g., via CyberSafe, TLS 1.2)
- Easy-to-learn, intuitive UI enables the operations team to get up and running in no time while also becoming significantly less dependent on SAP administrators.
Managed File Transfer Capabilities
Universal Automation Center comes equipped with managed file transfer capabilities to move your sensitive SAP input data between your SAP application server and any other platform—even a mainframe—in a secure, fast and reliable way. Highlights of the built-in managed file transfer solution include:
- Any-to-any/platform-independent transfer to and from z/OS, i5 (AS/400), Unix, Linux, Windows, and the cloud (AWS, Azure, Google).
- An extensive script language for data transfer and a central script library for storing scripts.
- Integrate into your existing scheduler landscape.
- Restart functionality, automatic failover.
- Authentication, encryption, and compression with the highest security standards developed for many banking and healthcare organizations.
Eliminate IT violations and exceptions with audit trail reports and dashboards. Fully automatic audit trails of the complete solution reveal the nature, time, and source of each change.
- No more IT-audit violations or exceptions.
- Any change is available, including before and after images.
- Auditing supports compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley requirements.
- All audit reports are automatically archived.
Orchestrate and automate every step of each business process as it runs across SAP and non-SAP systems. Optimize parallel execution of SAP ABAP code to accelerate processing by 1.) controlling the number of parallel processes executed using virtual resources, and 2.) fully leveraging the existing SAP load-balancing cluster.
There are several other features that SAP customers love about the UAC. We know this because UAC is used by some of the largest SAP customers on the planet. A few features worth noting here include automated SAP system copy capabilities, integrations with SAP BusinessObjects, and easy SAP calendar imports.
As organizations transition to SAP S/4HANA, identifying a solution that will work with legacy SAP solutions and S/4HANA is often important. If you are moving into the cloud, having a solution that will work on-prem and in the cloud is equally essential. Fortunately, as an SAP customer, you have a number of options. If you would like to learn more about UAC, please visit our SAP automation page. Or, head over to the SAP store, where you can learn more about the Stonebranch Universal Connector for SAP Technology.
Hi Scott--Excellent info, and it's great to hear from actual Customers about the value they find in UAC.
It sounds like the deployment options thus far are largely a) SaaS solution (logically), and b) on-prem or in the hyperscaler of the Customer's choice (Customer-sourced infrastructure).
Are there any plans to deploy this on what used to be called the SAP Cloud Platform (now called BTP), using the services available there? If not, is that something we could entertain and perhaps scope out?
David Youker / SAP P&T COE - North America