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Cloud Hosting, SAP HANA and Big Data

Understanding the Value Behind SAP Fiori in the Cloud

September 26, 2019

SAP fiori in the cloudSAP Fiori, which offers a new SAP User Experience (UX), is now available on the SAP Cloud Platform. This presents a number of advantages over the earlier requirement that it run on-premises. Even with Fiori in the cloud, however, it is still possible to link it with SAP solutions running on-premises.

First introduced in 2013, SAP Fiori represented a major upgrade of the SAP UX over its predecessor, the SAP GUI. Running on SAP HANA and S/4HANA, Fiori makes working with SAP applications more efficient by means of visual engagement. Users do not have to click on as many tabs and buttons to complete their tasks. SAP Fiori is now available in version 2.0. This newer edition has further improved the UX and introduced new apps.

SAP Cloud Platform

To understand SAP Fiori in the cloud, it helps to know about its host, the SAP Cloud Platform. The SAP Cloud Platform is an open Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) managed by SAP. It enables the creation of new applications as well as the extension of existing applications in a secure cloud computing environment. It includes the SAP HANA database, with the ability to connect to SAP running on premises or in the cloud. With the platform, it is possible to integrate SAP data and business processes. The platform also supports third-party software as well as open standards such as Node.js, Java, JavaScript and Cloud Foundry for integration.

What is the SAP Fiori Cloud?

The SAP Fiori Cloud offers SAP customers an SAP Fiori environment running on an SAP cloud platform. It enables secure connections to on-premise SAP landscapes. Users can access SAP Fiori apps via the SAP Fiori launchpad. According to SAP, SAP Fiori Cloud for S/4HANA has more than 6,000 apps. It offers content that covers business roles across 13 lines of business and over 30 industries.

There are two basic architectures. A hybrid approach involves the cloud-based Fiori application connecting to the back ends of SAP instances that are running on-premises. The User Interface (UI) layer is in the cloud, but the enterprise software is on-premises. Alternatively in a pure cloud scenario, both SAP Fiori and the SAP application (e.g. S/4HANA) can be running in the cloud.

Benefits of the SAP Fiori Cloud

There are a number of benefits to using SAP Fiori in the cloud. These include administration reduction, increased ability for developers to innovate, no need to connect to a front-end server and simpler user identity management.

  • First, it reduces the amount of administration the SAP team needs to do for Fiori. Running Fiori in the cloud means one less SAP application to manage and monitor in the data center. This results in cost and personnel savings. Geographic reach is another benefit. When Fiori is situated in one on-premises location, the system response time may be slow if the user is far away from the instance. SAP Cloud runs in multiple locations around the world. A Fiori user can get a fast response from the nearest SAP Cloud hosting site.
  • The innovation cycle can also potentially speed up with Fiori running in the cloud. Developers can create and release new Fiori apps in the cloud without affecting release cycles for on-premises systems.
  • The NetWeaver Gateway was required to call SAP Fiori applications. NetWeaver held the files that form the Fiori UI. Furthermore, SAP Fiori applications use the OData protocol when they invoke business data from the back-end system. This requires NetWeaver because NetWeaver supports the CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete). CRUD provides data to the application. Without OData, Fiori is essentially an empty shell.
  • One of the main benefits is the lack of need for an on-premises front-end server. Before its availability in the cloud, it was necessary to run Fiori on a front-end server, which could only be the SAP NetWeaver Gateway system. This server had to be connected to whatever back-end system was actually performing the business processes, e.g. SAP ECC.
  • User identity management also becomes simpler with Fiori running in the cloud. When an organization runs Fiori on-premises, it’s necessary to replicate the users of the SAP back-end system on NetWeaver. This results in added management overhead and errors in user access controls—a potential security and compliance risk. When Fiori is in the cloud, SAP has an identity function that enables single sign on for both cloud and on-premises environments.

However, there is still a need to create users in the cloud environment in order to map it to the backend user.  The identity function SAP provides for SSO is generally an additional cost unless the client implements a custom-made solution, or integrates it into their own existing identity access management system. As you can see, running Fiori on premises is a complicated proposition. An experienced SAP admin can handle it, but it’s arguably better if the IT department didn’t have to deal with NetWeaver and the various configuration and management issues that arise when it’s hosting Fiori.

Consider Your Needs Before Making the Change

Beneficial as it may be, there are still some challenges involved in getting Fiori in the cloud up and running. And, it’s wise to think through whether it’s truly the best scenario for your business. For example, if an SAP customer has invested the time and effort into setting up NetWeaver, and it’s current, it may be a waste of resources to dump it prematurely and move to Fiori in the cloud. It might be better to wait.  We are experienced in helping SAP customers make these kinds of decisions and can help assess existing Fiori use cases to advise you on next steps.