Looking back at 2022 from a SAP and Microsoft perspective
Introduction – SAP and Microsoft Webcast
Together with my colleagues Robert Boban and Goran Condric I run a weekly podcast (we should start calling it webcast…) about “SAP and Microsoft” and we just wrapped up the year 2022 in our episode 124.
While preparing for this episode I looked back at 2022 and was actually quite impressed by what our joint teams at SAP and Microsoft have accomplished.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time (or better took the time) to write as many blog posts here on the SAP Community as I used to (both as a SAP and Microsoft employee), but luckily I have a lot of amazing colleagues that not only wrote a lot of blog post — but really good ones as well.
So, before I go into some of the details that we accomplished in 2022 as SAP and Microsoft, I want to highlight and call-out a few colleagues that I worked with very closely and that have created amazing content. If you are not following them, make sure to do this now:
Martin Pankraz — all about Private Link, Integration, BTP, Security, Network, …
Martin Raepple — all about Security and Single Sign-On / Principal Propagation
Bartosz Jarkowski — Your SAP on Azure series!
SAP and Microsoft – developing together
We have created this slide which outlines how we address the SAP and Microsoft world and I want to use it to highlight a few new topics that we worked on in 2022.
Let’s start with the infrastructure. Running your SAP system on Azure in a supported way requires you to use SAP certified VMs. For years Microsoft has taken this extremely serious and made sure we have the most SAP certified VMs (you can find the list here, Certified and Supported SAP HANA® Hardware Directory). The latest example is no exception. What started as a dedicated project between SAP and Microsoft for one of our largest customers, was then extended to even more customers. We now have several customers that run their SAP workload on (almost) 24 TB virtual machines (keep in mind we are talking about memory, not storage…).
We worked closely with SAP, dedicated customers and partners to ensure that also this extremely high workload would run smoothly on Azure. As a result we got more and more customers that now run their SAP S/4HANA Systems on these 24 TB VMs on Azure. These are customers that do this “on their own” and customers doing this as part of their RISE with SAP transformation.
Speaking of RISE with SAP on Azure. We had plenty of RISE with SAP customer projects on Azure and our joint success story with SAP & NBA is just one prominent example Microsoft Customer Story-NBA accelerates modern app time to market to ramp up fans’ excitement. Other customer success stories include
- Wolverine Worldwide (Microsoft Customer Story-Wolverine Worldwide enhances business performance and employee experience using RISE with SAP on Azure),
- Chevron (Microsoft Customer Story-Chevron powers its business future with SAP on Azure and the Microsoft Cloud),
- Munich Re (Microsoft Customer Story-Munich Re gains speed and performance with SAP on Azure to drive innovation),
- GWC (Microsoft Customer Story-GWC changes the game by migrating to RISE with SAP on Azure),
- Woolworths (Microsoft Customer Story-Woolworths completes large-scale SAP cloud transformation, improving efficiency, flexibility, and speed to market),
- Carhartt (Microsoft Customer Story-Carhartt gears up for growth with Azure VMware Solution) or
- ThyssenKrupp (Microsoft Customer Story-Schnellere Systembereitstellung mit SAP on Azure: thyssenkrupp Steel Europe lässt Rechenzentren hinter sich).
For a broader list, take a look at Microsoft Customer Stories Search
Staying on the infrastructure level I do want to highlight another interesting release: the Azure Center for SAP Solutions http://aka.ms/acss.
The ACSS is currently in Public Preview and although we are just getting started we can already see many customers and partners leveraging and using its functionality. With ACSS we make Azure “SAP aware”. For the first time we have a public cloud that does not only deal with your SAP system as a bunch of VMs, storage, network, … components, but really as a SAP system. We are doing this by “looking inside” the SAP system and creating Virtual Instances for SAP (VIS) which is the foundation for lots of cool integrations. The easiest example for me is always that Azure now knows how to start and stop your SAP system. Azure knows that the App server needs to be stopped before the DB server. Obviously, this is a very simple example, but now that ACSS knows the message server, the profile configuration, the DB, … and much more we can leverage this information for other services on Azure. [#110 – The one with the Azure Center for SAP Solutions (Aron Stern) | SAP on Azure Video Podcast – YouTube]
Before going to these other services, I want to highlight the work that we did with Markus WINTER, Bettina Knauss, Stanimir Eisner and team on the SAP Cloud Appliance Library. For years I have used CAL to deploy Sandbox systems and now you are also able to deploy production ready SAP systems with a similar experience! We worked closely to define a recommended architecture and make the deployment as smooth as possible. If you want to have an (almost) one-click deployment experience, head over to Products – SAP Cloud Appliance Library and deploy your first production ready SAP system on Azure.
What we also heard from customers (and partners) is that Terraform and Ansible are the preferred way to deploy a SAP system (not only on Azure). Together with SUSE, RedHat, SAP and many other partners we created the SAP Deployment Automation Framework, SDAF. SDAF is hosted on GitHub and allows anyone to deploy a SAP system automatically, Azure/sap-automation: This is the repository supporting the SAP deployment automation framework on Azure (github.com).
The best thing: it is flexible (we have already seen several partners from smaller ones to big system integrators, to adopt the framework and enhance it with their own requirements) and can easily be integrated in deployment pipelines to ensure a repeatable deployment of your SAP environment [#75 – The one using SAP Deployment Automation via DevOps (Michael Mergell, Kimmo Forss) |]
The Azure Monitor for SAP solution is another example that can leverage ACSS. The Azure Monitor for SAP Solution has been released in a version 2 and comes with lots of new features What is Azure Monitor for SAP solutions? (preview) – Azure Virtual Machines | Microsoft Learn. [#102 – The one with Updates to Monitor for SAP Solutions (Samie Khare) | SAP on Azure Video Podcast]
Similar like the monitor the Azure Backup for SAP will be able to retrieve the information from ACSS to simplify the backup experience of your HANA and non-HANA SAP installation (https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/backup/sap-hana-database-about) . In addition lots of features like snapshot and stream-based backups and immutable vaults to protect against ransomware are now available [#120 – The one with Azure Backup for SAP (Kartik Pullabhotla) | SAP on Azure Video Podcast]
One other super important topic is Security. As we have unfortunately seen quite a lot during the last few months, ransomware attacks and data theft is becoming more common. Doing these kind of attacks is getting simpler and simpler. There are tool-boxes and services available that basically help anyone to attack your SAP system.
Since for most companies defending against these attacks is not the core business, it is important to leverage others that can help you. Microsoft has been very active and engaged in making security a core priority. Thousands of security experts and millions of dollars are invested every year to protect Azure in general and especially SAP. Our Zero Trust approach / recommendation and Microsoft Sentinel Solution for SAP (Microsoft Sentinel Solution for SAP overview | Microsoft Learn) is constantly enhanced and protects lots of customers already. The feedback that we are getting from customers (like Microsoft IT) is then fed back to the product to make it even better. Campari Group is another amazing example that highlights the potential benefits of running your SAP System on Azure, Microsoft Customer Story-Campari Group accelerates innovation with move to SAP on Azure and the Microsoft Cloud [#81 – The one with updates on Microsoft Sentinel for SAP (Yoav Daniely, Koby Mymon, Aaron Hillard)]
With this let’s head up the stack and look for integration
Open and Frictionless Integration
When you think of extending your SAP environment while keeping your core clean there is one platform that comes to mind (in addition to Azure obviously :-)): the SAP Business Technology Platform.
SAP BTP is now available in even more regions on Azure. Lately we had a lot of customers in Switzerland who explicitly asked due to security and regulatory reasons to get BTP on Azure in Switzerland. So, in addition to all the other regions we worked closely with SAP to make this happen. Now we have several customers running not only their SAP Systems (either with RISE or self-hosted) on Azure in Switzerland, but also BTP.
The next question was always: I am already running my SAP system on Azure, I also have BTP on Azure — so why do I need to use the SAP Cloud Connector? With SAP Private Link service we developed a way to keep the connection from your SAP System to BTP on the Azure backbone in an even more secure way.
You do not need to open up any firewall port on your SAP System, but can still connect your services while staying on the Azure backbone and basically doing a VNet Peering. My colleagues Martin Pankraz worked closely with Sven Kohlhaas and Philipp Becker from the SAP engineering team and customers and created lots of fantastic content Getting Started with SAP Private Link Service for Azure | SAP Blogs (in addition to the official content released by SAP, SAP Private Link | SAP Help Portal) [#99 – The one with the SAP Private Link Service (Sven Kohlhaas, Martin Pankraz) | SAP on Azure]
Once you have decided on the network configuration, the next thing is authentication: when connecting your SAP with Microsoft services, you need to have Single Sing-On in most cases. Martin Raepple worked very closely with Michael Friedrich and Martijn de Boer to provide guidance and best practices to integrate your SAP Identity with Active Directory and Azure Active Directory. In his amazing blog post series Principal propagation in a multi-cloud solution between Microsoft Azure and SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP), Part I: Building the foundation | SAP Blogs he has provided several step by step instructions on how to get started with a simple example to several real customer implementation. [#83 – The One with protecting SAP services with Azure APIM and SSO (Martin Räpple, Will Eastbury)]
Now that we have the integration between your SAP System and BTP, the thing you want to do is actually leverage the BTP services. In more and more cases we hear from customers that an event driven architecture is important. Uma Anbazhagan already showed a great event based integration in Teams Integrating SAP Business Processes in Microsoft Teams using SAP Business Technology Platform | SAP Blogs [#104 – The one with SAP Business Processes in Microsoft Teams (Uma Anbazhagan) | SAP on Azure] and we continued with the SAP Event Mesh team around Krishanu Biswas, Pradeep Panda Klaus Deissner and of course Karsten Strothmann among others on the integration of SAP Event Mesh with Azure Event Grid. This technical integration provides the foundation for a simple connection between Teams and your SAP system which we will see more and more by customers in 2023. SAP Event Mesh: Event Connector to Microsoft Azure to go Beta | SAP Blogs
Faster and intelligent insights
On the insight integration we have released the SAP Chance Data Capture Connector for Azure Data Factory and Synapse Analytics. This is probably one of the most well received connectors that we released in 2022. In private preview we already had several customers and partners signed up. Once we went into Public Preview we were swamped by customers testing and even going into production. So with all of this we went GA a few months ago and see a continued growth of customers leveraging the CDC Connector to blend data from their SAP Systems with Azure Data Factory, Overview and architecture of the SAP CDC capabilities – Azure Data Factory | Microsoft Learn. [#119 – The one with Updates to the SAP CDC Connector (Ulrich Christ) | SAP on Azure Video Podcast]
We also put some focus on the “Inside to Action” story and pointed out how you can not only blend the data from SAP and Microsoft, but also use the insights (for example via a Power BI visualization) into actions, by calling back into the SAP System, updating and creating data. Obviously leveraging topics like network integration and single sign on as mentioned above. [https://github.com/thzandvl/microhack-sap-data/tree/DSAG]
Rapid Application Development
As we have heard during SAP TechEd, low-code development is top of mind for a lot of (not only SAP) customers at the moment. Luckily Microsoft has been very busy in the low-code space with the Power Platform (Microsoft Power Platform Stories | Microsoft Power Apps). I guess almost everyone already knows Power BI, but it is just one out of five tools that make up the Power Platform. With Power Apps, Power Automate, Power Virtual Agent and Power Pages, Microsoft has several low-code applications in store that allow you not only to create enhancements and automations to Office tools, but also lots of third party application – like in this case SAP. Customers like Coca Cola United already outlined how they improved their invoice process using Power Platform Coca-Cola United automates over 50,000 orders in complex SAP invoicing process with Microsoft Power Platform | Microsoft Power Apps With the acquisition of Clear Software a year ago we have now released several pre-build apps and flows that simplify the way how customers can use the Power Platform to build low-code extensions for their SAP solutions, Announcing Deeper SAP Integration for the Power Platform | Power Automate Blog (microsoft.com). The first templates for Order to Cash, Procure to Pay or Record to Report are already released in preview and will be extended with more templates in 2023. [#118 – The one with the New SAP Connector for Power Platform (Jon Gilman) | SAP on Azure Podcast]
Enhanced productivity and collaboration
The last bucket I want to highlight is the “productivity and collaboration” integration. When Satya Nadella joined Christian Klein in the RISE with SAP announcement they talked about the importance of bringing collaboration closer to the SAP system and to the customers by leveraging Microsoft Teams (RISE with SAP: Interview with Microsoft).
We have been very busy and released several Teams integrations with SAP SuccessFactors, SAP Sales Cloud and many more. However, one thing stood out: the integration with SAP S/4HANA. First in the Microsoft Ignite keynote (Satya Nadella Full Keynote Microsoft Ignite 2022), then also featured by Thomas Saueressig during SAP TechEd shows how easy it can be to expose any SAP S/4HANA screen in Teams. Like with lots of other topics we are on a journey and the feedback that we are getting from customers is amazing to help us influence the next steps. (https://influence.sap.com/sap/ino/#campaign/3051)
I also want to highlight that Teams is just the latest integration of Microsoft 365 with SAP. For years the integration in Excel, Outlook and other Microsoft products has been done and we are continuously working with SAP to make this even better. In our SAP TechCommunity I recently wrote an article about that as well, Integrating SAP with Microsoft Office
I could have gone on and on with topics that we worked on in 2022. If you want to learn more (or keep up to date), make sure to check out SAP on Azure Video Podcast (saponazurepodcast.de) or subscribe to SAP on Azure – YouTube (or as audio only on: Spotify: Unofficial SAP on Azure podcast | Podcast on Spotify or Apple Podcast: Unofficial SAP on Azure podcast on Apple Podcasts and keep watching this space.
On to a successful 2023!