As Fiori is gaining more and more momentum, I feel there is a need to present a big picture/approach towards tackling Fiori projects and get it up and running quickly. So, after some encouragement from my colleagues Owen Pettiford and Paul Abrahamson I decided to jot down my experiences from the Fiori projects we completed successfully last year, in the form of this blog series.
Part 1 is about planning your Fiori setup and Part 2 is about the implementation itself.
(Next parts in this series will be on implementing Analytical and Factsheet apps in Fiori)
Fiori UX talk is all around these days. From its humble beginnings i.e. simplifying/rethinking 30 most used SAP transactions to a mammoth collection of 511 apps in Wave 7 (at the time of writing this blog) coming from almost all major functions of SAP Business Suite, it is still growing.
There are mainly 3 categories of Fiori Apps: Transactional, Analytical and Factsheet Apps.
You need HANA for Analytical and Factsheet Apps. Transactional Apps, on the other hand, for a familiar business function, could be a good start towards UX renewal in your company. This blog is meant for those SAP customers and consultants who are already working with SAP Business Suite and wondering what it takes to get their feet in the door and implement a successful Fiori project.
Conception and Scenario
So you are a classic ERP customer using the traditional SAP Business Suite system and you are impressed with the demos you see all the time by SAP and various partners for new Fiori UX paradigm. You want to play around with these standard apps, asses their suitability and see how much you need to customize before you can think about going live with them.
Let’s say your area of interest is Leave Management and you want to have a look at My Leave Requests and Leave Approval Apps. Also, you want to perform some customization in the Leave Approval App.
Building the know-how or engage with a partner who has done this before
Now you need to figure out technicalities of the product, skills needed, current state of your systems for Fiori (versions etc.) and how best you can have Fiori with minimum or no upgrade to your backend systems.
To figure all this out there are two options:
a) If you already have an SAP competence in your company and want to maintain this kind of solutions yourselves going forward, you need to get your architects have a look at above mentioned things and draw up a learning and implementation plan.
b) There are a few specialist partners in this space whom you can contact for a consulting advice as well as implementation itself. For a first time customer, with no experience in these technologies, engaging with a partner could be very beneficial. One advantage here is that generally these partners have the apps running in their landscape so you can get them to demo these to your business users even before starting the project.
Also, they may have already wrestled with the real world problems hidden behind the marketing slides of a new product
Planning your implementation – Food for thought
Below are some pointers regarding technologies, skills and the kind of landscape needed to kick start a Fiori project for the scenario we have chosen:
a) Technologies involved and architecture
To implement and use Fiori Leave Management apps you need following technological pieces:
- A Backend SAP ERP with HR business functions ESS/MSS enabled
- SAP Gateway (Embedded or Hub Deployments)
- SAPUI5 Libraries (As Fiori is currently implemented in SAPUI5)
b) Putting together the right Fiori team
You might have heard that Fiori and Gateway are freely available for the customers who already have the license for relevant business function with underlying NetWeaver layer. But, as you know, for all non-plug & play products, there are implementation costs involved. Fiori is no exception. You need people who can play following roles.
- Involvement of business users for discussions since the beginning of project to understand the actual pain points in their day to day work. This is extremely important for obvious reasons.
- An Architect who knows how things fit together technically – Prerequisites, right Gateway/Fiori deployment options for your landscape, which apps use which ERP functions/workflows in the backend ,needed reverse proxies setup, System Aliases for services and Task Gateway, OData-UI5 app architecture know-how, Launchpad concepts etc. Most importantly, someone who can coordinate between various teams to get things done in time.
- A Functional Consultant who can assess the apps functionally, determine enhancement needs, help technical teams during implementation, write test cases and work with business users with UAT.
- A Basis Consultant who can install and configure Fiori apps with the help of your Architect and ABAP Team members.
- Member/Members from the Network team in your company to address issues in Reverse Proxies, Cross Domain Access, Firewalls/Ports for external access etc.
- An ABAP Consultant who knows SAP NetWeaver Workflow, Enhancement Framework, OData and Gateway
- An SAPUI5 Consultant who can do UI extensions and theming etc.
These roles can be played by any number of people depending on the competence in your or your Partners’ Team. Last two roles are need-basis and required at the time of app extension.
c) Landscaping: Are you on the right version? Whats the right deployment choice for you?
This is a very important discussion you need to have with your architects and it varies from case to case and customer to customer. You may setup an Embedded Gateway Deployment (ERP, Gateway, and UI5 on 1 box) for your Sandbox/Dev but a Central Hub (Gateway and UI5 on a separate box connected with your ERP) for your QA and Prod. Or it could also be a Central Hub for all 3 landscapes.
If you are doing a Central Hub, you will get Gateway core components available as part of NW 7.4. You just need to install Backend-Enablement component (IW_BEP) on your backend system. This component is quite compatible to old versions of ERP/NW. On the other hand, if you are doing an Embedded Gateway, you need to find out if you on the right version for Gateway Framework components (scope of GW_CORE/IW_FND) .
Also will the Launchpad be a part of your existing portal or a new entry point altogether?
Generally your architect can work with the basis team for this. Poor decisions in this space could lead to a bad start and unnecessary overhead costs. So doing your landscaping right is a great start in Fiori projects.
d) Authentication and Authorization
This is where Network and Basis teams can collaborate with you and your Architect to determine how users will access these apps internally and externally. Firewalls and Ports to be opened, reverse proxy you use currently, redirecting or renaming URLs and most importantly the current situation of SSO in your company. This is often the most challenging piece in such projects. Do you really need an SSO? What combination of OAuth/SAML/X.509 can serve the purpose? What about security and SSL? Do you need to secure your RFCs as well with SNC? Have you thought about using User-Mappings feature of SAP Gateway? (Yes! There are more features in Gateway then SEGW stuff).
The story doesn’t end here, what about security? Are the role templates provided by SAP for Fiori sufficient to create custom roles and use straightaway? No they are not
This is a huge topic in itself. In fact, achieving SSO via User Mappings in Gateway (via X.509 or SAML 2.0) is a topic of a separate blog in itself.
This is also a space where your experienced partner can help you a lot.
SAP, in past (2013-Early 2014) have confused everyone by releasing many documentations frequently (PDFs initially). But now as the apps themselves are relatively more stable, as of today, there are three main documentations available:
- Fiori App Reference Library
I especially like this one. This documentation explains the pre-requisites/components/notes not only for every app but for each release of every app. Thank you SAP for this and I hope you will maintain this going forward!
- SAP Help Documentation
- And lastly “All Things Fiori” Page
Also, new Fiori space is live on SCN now!
I think, once you have thought about all of this, you are on the right track and ready to evaluate the pre-requisites and start the implementation.
In 2nd Part of this series, I will talk about the actual implementation itself.
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