23 Feb 2023 by Andrew Spicer
From the Covid-19 pandemic and labour shortages to supply chain disruption and natural disasters, the constant theme in the last few years has been one of profound and unexpected change.
Realtech customers have had to build resilience and nimbleness into their operations to offset the disruption. New Zealand's unprecedented flooding provides another example of our need to hone our planning and problem-solving skills so we can thrive in the future.
But how do you move quickly and adapt to changing circumstances when virtually every part of your business, from enterprise resource planning (ERP) to customer relationship management (CRM) and the payroll system, runs on a complex platform like SAP?
The essential part of implementing change is fostering an environment that makes it quick and easy to test modifications and new setups, which can then be deployed to your operational environment with minimal delay.
You need to be able to access client and transactional data to test real-world scenarios while protecting the privacy of your employees and your customers and ensuring you have water-tight data security. This is why Realtech has partnered with the incredible team at EPI-USE Labs, a global leader in software and services, supporting customers all over the world to create more powerful and secure SAP environments.
Partnering with the best
We recently teamed up with EPI-USE Labs to host a webinar introducing the Data Sync Manager (DSM) Suite, a set of indispensable tools to achieve simpler, more secure and cost-effective testing and development in your SAP environment.
“A typical issue for our customers is that they're simply testing on old systems or out-of-date data,” explains EPI-USE Labs’ Solutions Delivery Lead, Daniel Barker.
“When you move to production and you hit real production data, you may not actually have configured things correctly. We can provide lean refreshes, and easy access to data elsewhere in the landscape, so that when you start developing and building that change in development, you're working on real production hardware,” says Barker, a 20-year veteran of SAP development.
Data Sync Manager Suite consists of several key components - System Builder/Shell Sync, Object Sync, Client Sync, Data Secure and Archive Central.
Let me give you a brief overview of what each component of the DSM suite can deliver:
System Builder/Shell Sync: Building a new sandbox environment or training system can be a time-consuming process. With System Builder, and its new equivalent for the S/4HANA environment, Shell Sync, building non-production environments becomes much easier. You can easily refresh your test systems from your production environment, drawing on the relevant repositories and HANA databases and importing the data required to undertake effective testing.
Object Sync: This lets users copy speciﬁc data scenarios, on demand, with complete data integrity, from any system to another. “This is a way you can get small subsets of data back into a quality assessment (QA) or a development system in near real-time,” says Barker.
“So it helps you quickly reproduce a production issue.”
Client Sync: Many organisations simply copy their production system in its entirety to create a testing and development environment. That takes time, uses substantial computing resources and it can be difficult to replicate to accurately mirror the production system.
“With Client Sync, a technical team would replace your current system refresh process with a reduced and cut-down client copy,” explains Barker.
“So this alleviates a lot of the challenges they have around a standard refresh. Reducing the size of the copy gives you a lot of flexibility.”
The results of using Client Sync can be dramatic, with an 80% reduction in disk space and associated costs common. One European EPI-USE Labs customer was able to replicate a 1.3 terabyte production system in a 330 gigabyte test environment, taking time slices of transactional data and drawing on master data to create a lean testing environment, cutting costs in the process.
Data Secure: This is a crucial component for managing data security and privacy in the modern computing environment. There’s a common need to draw on personally identifiable information from production systems in the test environment. That’s how you simulate real-world situations.
Data Secure lets you do that safely by employing data scrambling, anonymisation and redaction tools. Using it, you can avoid sensitive or confidential information appearing in test data.
“You can scramble subsets of data or an entire system, or scramble as part of the data copy,” Barker says.
This is increasingly important for businesses required to stay in compliance with privacy regulations such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and our own updated Privacy Act. EPI-USE Labs employs an integrity map, to make sure all data remains consistently aligned in the testing environment.
Archive Central: Continuing the theme of data management is Archive Central, a powerful tool allowing you to access historical data for queries, reporting and comparisons.
“Maybe you are planning an ECC to S/4HANA move and you want to start S/4HANA differently - ‘lean up’, or maybe even go to green fields. So what do you do with that legacy system?” Barker says.
With Archive central you can retire that old system, but maintain secure access to the data and applications.
In sync for testing and development
The tools in Data Sync Manager Suite from EPI-USE Labs have the ability to save businesses time and money. We’ve seen them put to excellent use by our own customers. EPI-USE Labs also has a useful Data Sync Manager Readiness report, which analyses your SAP landscape to help you understand how these tools can make your development, testing and training systems more efficient.
Most importantly, Data Sync Manager Suite is fully certified by SAP and works across every configuration of on-premises and cloud-based, as well as the full suite of SAP applications, from ERP and CRM to BW (Business Warehouse) and SRM (Supplier Relationship Management).
I can’t overestimate the importance of getting these things right if you have SAP at the core of your business. We are all facing a tighter economic climate and the growing threat of data breaches. By focusing on best-practice in creating and maintaining non-production environments, you can move quickly to adapt to market conditions, while maintaining the integrity of your all-important systems and data.
Check out the full replay of the webinar with EPI-USE Labs and get in touch with a Realtech expert to find out how we can help you make the most of this powerful toolset to supercharge your SAP testing and development.