Author – Asad Mahmood, Principal Solution Architect, itelligence UK.
Firstly, I hope you are all well and coping with the challenges we are currently facing. I hope that you and your loved ones remain healthy and we are able to turn the tide on this virus in the very near future. My thoughts and prayers are with all those that are affected by this disease.
In the meantime, business continues at itelligence UK. This week, I have had virtual meetings with customers and colleagues to cover topics such as: data, analytics, predictive algorithms, HANA and only yesterday, we had a virtual drinks evening with the team; the new normal I suppose. Please do share stories on how you are adapting and coping during this period.
Metadata Management of S/4HANA Enterprise Management
The topic for today’s blog is Metadata Management of S/4HANA Enterprise Management. The metadata is extracted and managed by SAP Information Steward. Businesses have a need to understand the anatomy of their S/4HANA system for a multitude of reasons: development impacts, auditory requirements, data integration, business dictionaries, and data lineage for other systems – to mention a few.
I struggled to find much already written on this topic and therefore, felt obliged to share my insights.
As a brief introduction, SAP Information Steward is SAP’s Data Governance solution and it allows organisations to identify and improve the quality, consistency and integrity of their data. It’s a solution designed for the Data Stewards and offers deep integration into SAP BusinessObjects and SAP Data Services. SAP Information Steward spans the following:
The perennial problem of IT being responsible for everything electronic, be it the systems or the toaster in the kitchen, hasn’t helped IT or the Business Users and it certainly hasn’t helped address the holistic challenges presented by data quality. Addressing this requires effective engagement from the business; it’s the business in my experience that truly understands information and how it is applied to deliver business value. This practical view coupled with IT’s advanced understanding of systems and data structures is pivotal in determining the success of this pursuit.
SAP Information Steward is a comprehensive solution designed to help in many of these areas and especially in empowering the business users and bringing to the fore their understanding of information and its application. This along with the ability to work collaboratively with their IT counterparts will help deliver the vision I have outlined above.
Returning to the topic of conversation – Metadata from S/4HANA – it’s the Metadata Management module that we shall be focusing on. This relates to a piece of work I have recently undertaken for a customer and wanted to share with you. This relies on Integrator Source connections being defined in CMC. Once this is in place, the metadata can be extracted or scheduled to run at a convenient time.
I created an Integrator Source connection for our S/4HANA Enterprise Management system using the “SAP ERP Central Component” Integrator Type. SAP ECC is also supported. The initial extraction took a few hours but it should be much faster for the delta extracts.
Once this was complete, I could login to SAP Information Steward and browse the available metadata. The metadata for S/4HANA appears under “Business Intelligence” in the Directory:
Firstly, selecting the SAP Tables provides me access to the 211,269 objects that feature within this category. This includes physical Database Tables, Transparent Tables, CDS Views and Database Views:
As an example, here are the details for the MARAP (a view on MARA)
This provides me with the technical and user-friendly representation of each field. It becomes much more interesting and useful, when determining the lineage or impact of any object. Lineage refers to objects that this View is dependent on and Impact refers to objects that are dependent on this View. Here is the lineage relationship of the View:
In this simple example, we can see that MARAP has a lineage relationship linking it to the MARA Table i.e. any changes to MARA could affect MARAP.
Similarly, here is the lineage for the Supplier CDS:
This example demonstrates the power of graphically depicting these relationships. Not only does this indicate the relationship with other CDS Views, it traces data items back to the original source fields. This can be immensely helpful from an auditory and governance perspective but also, if you were seeking to create new but similar CDS Views.
That’s a couple of examples of the lineage relationships examined through SAP Information Steward. Let’s now take a look at the impact relationships. This is where a given object will directly affect another object e.g. the dependent object is referencing or in some capacity dependent on this base object.
In the example below, I have selected VBAK as my base table and selected the impact relationship. Given the significance of this table, it impacts hundreds of other objects in S/4HANA. I have reduced my zoom setting to provide an appreciation of this:
Let me now delve into some specifics. We can see from this graphic that VFCO_VA88_L1 relies on VBAK. Expanding VFCO_VA88_L1 reveals all the objects that are impacted by this View.
Finally, let me now turn to the SAP Extractors Directory and demonstrate the metadata that is harvested from the extractors:
Extractors will connect to underlying S/4HANA Tables/Views to produce datasets that are typically consumed by SAP BW/4HANA.
In this example, I have selected 0POC_PRC_KPI_DEFINITION and am viewing the lineage relationships:
This helps me understand the origins of the data produced via this Extractor.
I hope the above serve as helpful examples of the type of artefacts that are available in SAP Information Steward upon extracting the appropriate metadata and also, the benefits of accessing the impact/lineage relationships.
Having established the above, let’s now apply the same principles across a wider system landscape. In the graphic below, SAP Information Steward extracts and assembles metadata from all of these systems to allow users to understand impact relationship, which span the entire spectrum of the end users and the requisite source data.
This shines a light in all of those dark and uncertain parts of a development project. You can be confident about these data/system relationships before embarking on a system change and similarly, instil confidence in the integrity of the metrics reported across your analytical applications.
In summary, SAP Information Steward provides a comprehensive set of capability to empower the business user to combat the challenges presented by Data Governance and specifically Data Quality. However, importantly this cannot be achieved in isolation. I started by stressing the need for IT and Business to work collaboratively to tame the beast. SAP Information Steward fills the previous void and provides the Business with a set of capability, which allows them to engage more effectively with IT.
Finally, the Metadata Management capabilities will catalogue and illustrate impact and lineage relationships within your S/4HANA system. The same capabilities can then be extended to include feeding and target systems to present an organisation-wide view of metadata.
If you would like to discuss any areas we have covered in this blog please reach out to us and we will be happy to discuss. Contact us here