Dan McGrann

3 Key considerations when launching an SAP continuous delivery pipeline

Dan McGrann | January 5, 2021

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It is common among SAP IT teams to want to break the shackles of standard SAP release cycles and deliver ‘smaller chunks’ of functionality more frequently. And continuous delivery makes it possible.

You no longer have to wait for changes to be written, tested, and bugs fixed before ‘throwing code over the wall’ in a traditional waterfall approach. SAP IT teams can release new features early and often with significantly less risk. The answer is orchestration and automation.

Here at Rev-Trac, we’ve been helping SAP customers achieve the continuous delivery of SAP change for almost 20 years. Over that period, what defines a continuous delivery pipeline has evolved.

Today, workflows are more complicated with integrations between Rev-Trac, SAP, ITSM solutions, code inspectors, testing tools and other similar applications essential. At the same time, the security requirements for these pipelines are more stringent to comply with robust enterprise-wide specifications and regulations.

Given the changes, here are three things you need to do to build a successful continuous delivery pipeline for more frequent go-live of SAP releases.

  1. Analyze and Improve Processes: Take the time upfront to identify what is in place today and what is needed moving forward. With multiple tools involved in the end-to-end continuous delivery process, clearly defining and designing the steps becomes more critical than ever before. Automating a flawed approach for SAP continuous delivery will not help achieve the intended outcomes – faster delivery of higher quality changes to business users with significantly lower risk. According to Milind Govekar, Research VP at Gartner, “The more you standardize the environment before automating it further, the better placed you will be … don’t automate the mess – get rid of the mess first.”
  2. Carefully Manage Scope: It’s an old cliché, but it definitely applies here. Don’t try to boil the ocean. Depending on the size of an organization, you might not be able to deliver the new process with a ‘big bang’ approach. Imagine trying to roll out a new SAP continuous delivery process across several hundred users spread out around the world. Can it be done? Yes, but a phased approach might be better, where several teams pilot the new solution for several weeks and then the other teams are rolled on to the solution at a measured pace.
  3. Address Security Early: Security of the SAP continuous delivery process is paramount to SAP customers. The security requirements around SAP continuous delivery pipelines are increasingly stringent and difficult to navigate – and rightly so given the more frequent data breaches across all industries. SAP change processes often involve a combination of tools across many functions, like ITSM, testing, code and impact analysis. It is crucial to integrate technologies such as ServiceNow, Jira, Solution Manager and other automated testing solutions, to form an end-to-end toolchain and achieve continuous delivery goals.
    The security of these integrations is fundamental to an organization’s INFOSEC teams. So, any integrations in your pipeline must be based on highly secure REST API’s, instead of less secure web services. REST APIS support more secure authentication protocols – not just HTTP Basic Authentication as web services do – to help protect your integrations from external breaches and attacks.

This recent article provides further insight why REST APIs are critical and in particular support OAuth2.0.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss SAP continuous delivery processes, feel free to reach out to us for further insight.

Dan McGrann

Dan first joined the company in 2015 to grow Rev-Trac’s partner ecosystem and build relationships with like-minded organizations to creates strategic DevOps initiatives for SAP-using enterprises. Dan has an in-depth understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing today’s SAP IT teams, particularly in SAP change management, cross-platform integration trends and DevOps best practices.
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