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Interfaces: a major concern for SAP S4/HANA transformations

S4 /HANA Migration Project - traffic monitor

Key Takeaways

  • Enable security by design. An S/4 project is often classified as a milestone to ensure lessons learned from the past are actually enforced, bottom-up. Interfaces that ran insecure for many years can now be identified and remediated.
  • Housekeeping. The number of communication channels across your landscape may have become polluted over many years. RFC destinations no longer responding or not in use should be decommissioned
  • Review your interface authorizations. Often we identify that communication channels use dialog users, or systems users have privileged access rights. As part of a transformation project, it is key to reduce the attack surface to an absolute minimum.

Interfaces and S4/HANA transformations

A wave of progressive technology developments such as cloud, social media, mobility and in-memory computing have positively impacted business processes, organizational workflows, business models and have provided innovations that have enriched capabilities to the overall business strategy. This technological revolution is increasing the demand on IT organizations, but its effects are not limited to IT. Leading German software technology company, SAP, has responded to its customer demands by majorly enhancing the SAP Business Suite, now powered by S4/HANA. Existing SAP customers running e.g. R/3 benefit considerably from the migration to S/4HANA.

What is SAP S/4HANA?

SAP S4/HANA is the latest generation of SAP NetWeaver ABAP/JAVA systems based on the SAP HANA database, and the term database should really be considered an understatement. It’s characterized by in-memory computing, streamlined transactions, a better user experience, combined with light-speed data processing and new functionality. Customers combine these new technologies, with strategic insights to unlock new opportunities, evolve business processes, or solve previously intractable challenges.

Well prepared, winning the game

Before unleashing the power of SAP S4/HANA, customers already running SAP need to perform an upgrade of their SAP NetWeaver installation, unless deciding on a green- or brownfield implementation. Two-thirds of an SAP S4/HANA upgrade, a so-called migration project consists of “Preparation“.

S4HANA Project flow
S4HANA Project

The prerequisite for an effective S4/HANA migration phase is a clean and well-prepared environment. For “brown-field“ migration approaches in particular, this is a challenge, as they have been formed over many years. Getting insight is key. Customers therefore need to create a detailed understanding of what is used today, and what is ideal for the future system architecture and operations, before shedding unnecessary weight.

SAP Interfaces

In addition to analyzing the business processes, and customers’ codebase, understanding the SAP interfaces is crucial. Most critical business transactions are performed by machine-to-machine connections. In preparing for S4/HANA upgrades, the IT-Team needs to answer the following questions:

  • Which interfaces exist, and which systems are connected? (SAP, non-SAP)
  • Which interfaces are still in use? What is their business purpose, and which data is being transferred?
  • Is the communication State of the Art secured according to internal or external regulations?

For organizations maintaining a complex integration landscape, running multiple system lines for distinct SAP modules such as  ERP, SRM, CRM and HCM, answering these questions isn’t easy.

IT-experts have to work through a list of existing RFC connections, analyzing their target and the distinct business purpose. Digging deeper to the next level will require technical analysis of data in transfer. Key questions would be: Is the connection still in use, and how frequently is it used? Helpful to know is: which business data is exchanged and which remote functions and user credentials are used? Gathering and analyzing this information is a time consuming and extensive task, involving mainly manual effort.

S4/HANA: Find the answers that you are looking for

Based on our customers’ feedback we realized that the SecurityBridge Interface Traffic Monitor provides the needed answers and allows our customers to maintain interface governance before and also after the SAP S4/HANA migration project.
The SecurityBridge Interface Traffic Monitor combines all key requirements in one view without additional configuration.

  • Transparent graphical overview of all systems (SAP and non-SAP) and all connections
  • RFC traffic statistics for all connections and communications
  • Detailed technical description of all calls

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Rudolf Kubica
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