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A Technical Deep-Dive Into SAC Connectivity

29 May 2020

Other blogs in this series can be found here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 4, Part 5

Data Connectivity

SAC comes with a range of connectivity options, from Excel uploads to SAP systems, as well as non-SAP sources. SAC can be placed above practically any mainstream database.

Image Source: SAP

There are two ways to bring data into SAC: Acquire and Live. Acquiring data into SAC means uploading it from your data warehouse into the cloud, where it will reside in the datacentre in which your SAC system is hosted, and it will be the method used to connect SAC to non-SAP systems such as Salesforce, Google or SQL databases as well as SAP systems.

Live, on the other hand, allows you to connect directly to your SAP systems such as BW and S/4HANA and, crucially, no data is transferred from the data warehouse to the cloud. This is a significant benefit for businesses where data security is paramount, as the risk of data being intercepted is removed.

Before going ahead with connections, make a note of your cloud tenant environment. Tenants with single-digit numbers (i.e. EU1) are hosted by SAP in the Neo environment, whereas double-digit tenants (i.e. EU10) are on external datacentres by Amazon or Google and use the Cloud Foundry environment. This is an important distinction for many connectivity types.

Let’s take a closer look at the two pathways, using BW/4HANA as our example.

Acquire Data

Acquiring data into SAC imports a dataset into the cloud, upon which you can enhance your model and ultimately report on and analyse data. Data acquisition requires the installation of several pieces of middleware on your servers, which provide connectivity and credentials between the systems. Your chosen server should have Tomcat server and an SAP JVM installed. On your server, first download and install the SAP Cloud Platform Cloud Connector, connecting it to your SAP JVM. This is used for practically every import source and requires an SAP Cloud Platform S-User to login and configure.

For a connection to an SAP system, install the SAP Cloud Agent and deploy it onto your Tomcat server, creating a Tomcat user for the Agent with a Services role. Then restart your Tomcat and head to http://<Host>:<Port>/C4A_AGENT/deploymentInfo to check. A prerequisite for this is the SAP Java Connector (JCo) so make sure that this is also installed. Handily, SAP provide the Tomcat, Connector and Agent in a Simple Deployment Kit, but you need to install the JCo manually.

To configure the Cloud Connector, head to https://<CC HOST>:8443 and enter your S-User details:

Image Source: SAP

Once logged in, you can add a ‘Cloud to On-Premise’ connector, where you will enter the details of your BW/4 system and give it an alias to be used later.

Image Source: SAP

Once all that is done server-side, you’re ready to create the connection in SAC, starting in the System>Administration>Datasource Configuration area. Under SAP Cloud Connector, add the email address associated with your Cloud Platform S-User to connect, then add a new Location under On-premise Datasources. Here, chose a name for your location and use the Cloud Agent host and port aliases and Tomcat user you created to provide credentials.

Image Source: Capgemini UK

Now we can create a connection to BW/4 in the Connections area of SAC, using your BW/4 system details, such as your application server and client. When that’s done, you’re ready to import some data.

Live Data

If you’re using an SAP system, you can set up a live connection to use your data. Connecting directly to data is more secure, as data does not leave your database. Using Cross-Origin Resource Sharing (CORS), SAC does not import data to the cloud, but rather uses your model’s metadata to build a query and process data directly in the browser. CORS works by allowing your SAC web application to talk to a system with a different origin via HTTP.

Image Source: SAP

With a BW/4HANA live connection, you’ll need a version above 1.0 SP12 or 2.0 SP01. Most of the configuration is done on the BW side, so your BW administrator will configure SAML connectivity and BW Information Access (InA) in your BW/4 system, as well as enabling CORS. Once the browser (Chrome or Edge. IE is , you can simply create a BW connection in the Connections area of SAC the same way as an import connection, only this time select from the ‘Live’ list.

There is more security and fewer moving parts in a live connection, but also drawbacks in functionality. Several visualisation types and abilities (such as histograms and measure-based filtering) are removed, as well as modelling functionality such as dimension and date calculations and, significantly, machine-learning features such as Smart Predict and Smart Insight. See SAP Notes 2788384 and 2715030 for a full run-down of these restrictions.

Non-SAP sources

SAC connects to datasources from third-party providers, some of which are natively activated, such as Salesforce, Google and SQL providers, which can be set up as import connections. Others, such as AmazonS3 and MS Dynamics CRM, require an ‘Open Connector’ in SAC, which require an SAP Cloud Platform user. SQL connectors to vendors like Oracle requires JDBC middleware and connecting to Google BigQuery needs an ODBC connector, so consult with your DBAs and basis before proceeding.

Full, regularly-updated details on SAC connectivity to non-SAP sources can be found here.

Modelling your data

With data connected to SAC, you can set up Datasets and Models. Datasets are generally used for planning and machine-learning and you can build stories, Applications and Digital Boardroom content on top of Models. In the next part of this series, we’ll explore modelling and visualising your data.