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May 29, 2013

Honey I Shrunk the Batch Window: SAP HANA and the IS-U Batch

Batch window is an important time frame for a utility's meter to cash daily processing in a SAP IS-Utilities system. This is the time when some of the real business processes of the utility are being executed. Batch window usually starts late in the evening and finishes early in the morning.

The original expectation was to have the batch window such that there is absolutely no overlap with the business hour window. During the business hours the billing system is occupied by call center and contact center users and also by back office billing, metering and finance users. Therefore it makes sense to have the batch window free from user interference timings and as such all complex jobs are hosted into the batch window.

Let's us talk about what all bulk processing typically is included in the daily batch.

  • Meter read (orders download, reads upload, VEE)
  • Billing (Simulation, Invoicing, Bill print)
  • Payments, Returns and Refunds
  • Clearing and Postings
  • Collection Processing and Write offs
  • Summarization to FI-GL
  • Daily Custom reports
  • Downloads to SAP BW

So why is daily batch window becoming a problem? This is because over the last few years the average length of the batch window is expanding and therefore leaving less room to perform any batch engineering.

Let us look at reasons on why the meter to cash batch window is expanding:

  • As you see above the batch windows packs in a lot of processing. Depending upon the hardware prowess and the number of items to be processed in each job, this batch can run into upwards of 14-16 hours and that can mean intrusion into the business hours.
  • As utilities are adding more and more functionality into their SAP system, that eventually is translating into more jobs in the batch or more time taken for each job to compete.
  • Complex functionalities like AMI, DSM, Electric Vehicles are all creating more data, more processing and therefore more complexity
  • New daily regulatory and management reporting are being added every year
  • Most of the jobs are sequential in nature that means there are interdependencies. Therefore parallel processing in the sense is limited
  • Hardware upscale is usually once in a few years. Gradual degradation of batch window performance continues to happen until the next season of hardware upgrade arrives
  • If a job a fails in the batch and restarted it will further delay completion of the entire batch run
  • Finally, the non-business hours have not shrunk either :)

The traditional solutions to the batch window problem include increasing hardware prowess and rationalizing the batch jobs which means removing some jobs and accelerating others via performance optimization.

But these have been incremental solutions that can bring in efficiencies marginally. However, with SAP HANA the solution is promised to be revolutionary. With the entire SAP IS-Utilities transactional system on HANA and SAP's claim of delivering performance thousands of times faster, here is what can happen to the batch window:

  • Batch window can be reduced to under an hour of a timeframe. Possibly some jobs might take seconds while others might take only minutes
  • Batch re-engineering will become possible as some jobs might be completely eliminated or because these can be done in real time
  • A lot more and complex jobs can be easily added to the batch
  • No more intrusion into business hours window
  • Job restarts can be easily accommodated without worrying about end time

SAP announced at SAPPHIRE 2013 that it will have all of the industry solutions supported on the HANA platform by end of 2013 including SAP IS-U. That's when utilities will start to slowly and eventually migrate business systems to HANA and realize the promised benefits. Suddenly time will shrink. The boundaries of OLTP and OLAP will start to disappear. And in turn it will also create potential business re-transformation opportunities - now that speed will be no longer a limitation.

May 20, 2013

Future of SAP Sourcing/CLM in SAP Procurement Product Stable

Future of SAP Sourcing/CLM in SAP Procurement Product Stable

 

In current scenario in SAP procurement space we find multiple Products which can cater to same or similar requirements. We have SAP Ariba, SAP SRM, SAP Sourcing and CLM which have similar functionalities. In these Products SAP SRM and SAP sourcing/CLM is for on Premise products whereas SAP Ariba is on demand product. Additionally SAP Sourcing/CLM is an island Product which is mostly implemented as standalone in first place and after a gap of some period is integrated with other procurement products based on requirements. The functionalities which can be covered within these products are :

Functionality

Ariba

SRM

Sourcing/CLM

Requisition/Order

ü   

ü   

NA

RFx/Bidding

ü   

ü   

ü   

Online/Offline Auctions

ü   

ü   

ü   

Contract Management

ü   

ü   

ü   

Catalogues

ü   

ü   

NA

Spend Analysis

ü   

ü   

ü   

 

For the above comparison we can find that Ariba and SRM have mostly same functionalities whereas individual product can have additional specific functionalities.

The future as for these Products seems to be converging procurement products into 1 single product or make the Product as On Premise or Cloud based. In such case the Long term trend as I can see is merging of SAP Sourcing/CLM functionality as add on Functionality in SAP Ariba which can provide Solutions to customer who require cloud based applications or as a Service. Customers who are inclined to have SAP Procurement product as On Premise, shall have to opt for SAP SRM which can provide same functionality. The future as I can predict is:

Functionality

Ariba with

SAP Sourcing/CLM

SRM

Requisition/Order

ü   

ü   

RFx/Bidding

ü   

ü   

Online/Offline Auctions

ü   

ü   

Contract Management

ü   

ü   

Catalogues

ü   

ü   

Spend Analysis

ü   

ü   

 

Key differentiator between SAP SRM and Ariba is:  SAP SRM can easily integrate with SAP ERP system       ( for follow on documents) and SRM MDM(for internal Catalogues) whereas SAP Ariba has advantage of managing multiple Suppliers on Ariba Network. Currently customers who wish to use Best of Functionalities from both the Products; SAP has provided functionality to integrate SAP SRM with Ariba through RDS (Rapid Deployment Solutions). Future decade or may be earlier shall decide which SAP Product behave as the Prime Product in SAP Procurement Offering based on customers inclination, easy to use and future trends.

 

Siddhant  Metkar

Lead Consultant, MFG CSI, Infosys Limited

May 14, 2013

Hanging Out with Infosys at SAP SAPPHIRE NOW

During this morning's opening keynote, Bill McDermott, Co-CEO and Member of the Executive Board of SAP AG, cited that the SAPPHIRE NOW audience has grown to 100,000 people -- 20,000 in Orlando, 80,000 streaming online. SAP provides live streaming and on-demand videos of the main agenda items for its online viewers.

For those unable to meet the Infosys experts and executives at the conference this year, we are extending the event experience beyond the SAPPHIRE convention center.

SAPPHIRE NOW Hangouts
To connect with our customers, partners, and employees face-to-face in real-time, we adopted Google+ Hangouts for SAPPHIRE NOW. A Hangout is a free online video chat for up to 10 people for anyone with a Google account. The "Hangout On Air" feature allows for live broadcasting and records directly to YouTube, meaning the content is immediately available anytime, from anywhere.

We're inviting guests to participate in Hangout video chats to share their SAP success stories. Whether you're attending the conference in person or tuning in online, guests can interact with experts to share best practices and solutions.

Live at SAPPHIRE NOW

Investment in Innovation: SAP HANA
Wed, May 15, 10:30 AM - 11:00 AM EST
Google+ Event: http://infy.com/18FnzT4

Leveraging the HCM Cloud
Wed, May 15, 11:15 AM - 11:45 AM EST
Google+ Event: http://infy.com/18Iw3c1

Foundational Mobility Capabilities for the Enterprise
Wed, May 15, 2:00 PM - 2:30 PM EST
Google+ Event: http://infy.com/125mq1Z

**UPDATE May 14, 4PM: Added 'Leveraging the HCM Cloud' Hangout!

Dedicated video conferencing stations are set up in in the Infosys meeting room in the convention center. My colleague Jay Barta (@jaybarta) and I (@mikejlee) are available throughout SAPPHIRE NOW as your Hangout concierge.

Check out the Infosys Google+ page for more info. You can also mention @Infosys on Twitter and use our #InfySAPPHIRE hashtag!


Hangouts for Team Meetings
Leading up to the event, we experimented with Google+ Hangouts to host our global team meetings and to share documents in Google Drive. It's much more productive than your typical conference call when you can actually see your colleagues while using the collaborative tools. And it's just simply more fun.

team-sapphire-hangout
(A full house with people joining from California, Texas, Florida, and Bangalore!)

Mike Lee is a Social Strategist for Infosys North America, covering breaking news surrounding enterprise IT and events. Add Mike to a Google+ circle or follow him on Twitter: @mikejlee

May 6, 2013

SAPPHIRE NOW 2013: What to expect?

By Adam Zeckel

Principal - Business Consulting; Energy, Communications and Services Unit, Infosys

As SAPPHIRE approaches, I've started to think about what has changed since this time last year. In May 2012, HANA was a hot topic in Orlando. The Infosys HANA COE had been up and running for nearly a year and my experience had been limited to just a few clients. By that time, however, we had laid the groundwork for value based discussions for BW on HANA focused on adding value for the business and reducing IT costs. We had created a demonstration on our internal system to showcase one business scenario for HANA. Many of our clients were talking about HANA. Some had started POCs and others were planning on start dates in 2013. One of our premier clients presented their journey to date implementing BW on HANA in the Database & Technology Theater at Sapphire.

Fast forward a year and much has changed - and much has remained the same. What were POCs in 2012 for many of our clients have turned into full production capabilities. At the same time, other clients have recently started their HANA journeys and plan to add capabilities throughout the remainder of the year. This year, one of our clients will be presenting in the Database & Technology Theater at Sapphire about their HANA incubation center and the capabilities that have been fostered and delivered through that group. As a COE, our group has gone from creating demonstrations to producing full scale solutions leveraging the speed of HANA. More importantly, we moved from talking about advanced business functionality through predictive analytics to actually doing something about it.

I've also started thinking about what is next to come. What will we look back on as we prepare for Sapphire 2014? As we continue to evolve in our capabilities around HANA and as we work with our clients to explore the ways in which they will revolutionize the way they do business, it's clear that there is much more change to come. The conversation is changing from "what" to "how". With ERP and CRM poised to run on HANA in many large scale environments and an increasing variety of HANA front end tools offered by SAP, the next year also offers many opportunities to position HANA as an enterprise-wide database solution for even the largest of companies.

So heading into SAPPHIRE, I'm planning to pay close attention to HANA announcements. There has already been some information released about license pricing changes, BW on HANA integration with enterprise HANA, and standard data models made available through HANA Live. I'm looking forward to seeing what other changes are in store for the HANA platform and how we may best be able to help our clients plan for the year to come.

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Meet Infosys experts at SAPPHIRE NOW 2013, Booth No. 139

Explore more at http://www.infosys.com/marcom/sap/sapphire-now/default.asp 

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