To understand where SAP is heading you first need to understand SAP’s Hana ‘in-memory’ database. In an SAP news post, Christian Hopfner of German SAP consultants All for One observed that when SAP R/3 launched in 1992, all applications were integrated. Over the years, new requirements emerged and more complex processes and analyses were needed. The R/3 relational database could no longer handle the load and customers began running systems separately with new interfaces. The idea behind Hana is to combat this fragmentation with a simplification of the software along with more powerful hardware. The promise of Hana was summed up in a presentation at the 2014 SAP TechEd as offering a back-to-the-future promise of a single source of the truth, running on a unified platform (supporting on-site, cloud and hybrid deployments) and exposing a consistent user experience provided by SAP Fiori, a new Html5-derived GUI. Hana is still work in progress. The database was announced back in 2010 but it took SAP till 2014 to get its own apps running on the new system. The release of S/4Hana earlier this year was billed as the biggest announcement since R/3.
SAP’s oil and gas team Ken Evans and Brent Potts held a press event at the show and discussed the ‘dramatic’ effect that the low oil price is having on IT projects. While these are seen as opportunities to optimize operations and save costs, today’s environment means that projects require a 90-100 day return on investment to pass muster. ‘Longer term projects are not what’s happening.’ Other highlights of the presentation were the SAP/Accenture Upstream operations management solution, the connected oilfield and the cloud. SAP views the upstream as a poster child for the connected supply chain and envisages data from the connected oilfield streaming to a ‘hi fidelity’ virtual model in the cloud. Entitled joint venture partners and suppliers can access and contribute to the networked supply chain. SAP is also working with Shell and VW on the connected car and connected convenience store/fuelling station.
Shell at least does not appear to be constrained by the 90 day ROI rule and is in the middle of a multi-year migration to Hana. Paul van Vuren’s presentation on well surveillance with SAP Hana began with a recap of Shell’s current SAP footprint, one of the ‘largest and most global’ in the world. SAP is used by 90,000 users in 130 countries in Shell, handles $1 billion of incoming invoices per day and houses around 110 terabytes of data. All this, over the next few years, is to be consolidated to a new standard Hana-based platform. Other facets of Shell’s ERP portfolio renovation include ‘easy’ integration of non-SAP applications and Microsoft Office 365. An extension to the cloud (Amazon and/or Azure) is also part of the program. The wells, reservoir and facilities management program (Wrfm) integrates multiple Shell and third party tools into a single portal. Connectors have been developed for Shell’s ‘Siesta’ reservoir pressure database, the eReservoir book and Significant well events database and other domain-specific tools to a consolidated enterprise data warehouse, leveraging Shell’s Enterprise data model. Data is not stored in Hana but accessed from connected data stores with Rest services based on OData. A Hadoop data store also ran. van Vuren concluded saying that although Hana offers an attractive platform to integrate well and ERP data, significant tooling upgrades are required, in some cases more than is currently available from SAP. Applications also need to be optimized for use across high latency wide area networks and distributed storage.
The acquisitions of Ariba (2012) and Concur (2014) extended SAP’s reach into retail. Heino Kantimm introduced the digital fueling station and the connected car. In 2011 drivers in the US spent $530bn on their cars and $570bn on fuel and convenience store purchases. Both markets are a) separate and b) totally dependent on each other! SAP wants to bring these two marketing opportunities closer perhaps with a ‘Buy now’ button on in-car entertainment systems enabled by a SAP connected vehicles business network. As of November 2014 Shell and VW have joined with SAP to ‘co-innovate’ on a connected vehicle ecosystem. A video showed a driver directed to the nearest gas station by an iPhone app. Lo and behold, there was even a guy manning the pump! The business model is as yet unclear. One issue is how to get the driver out of the connected car and into the shop!
A keynote from SAP’s Maher Chebbo addressed energy independence in the EU. Member countries have widely different energy mixes, France has its nuclear and the Netherlands its gas. Despite a lead in renewables, the wider energy market is ‘fragmented and uncompetitive.’ Chebbo proposes an IT ‘cockpit’ for energy supply control to help the Union react to crises and assure its supply. SAP proposes to help build the cockpit as an on-demand service for politicos and others. SAP is planning a consortium to develop the cockpit under the EU Horizon 2020 program. The system already has an acronym, the EEIS (EU energy independence simulator) and the EU’s putative energy union has both a website and a hashtag (#EnergyUnion).
With the industry and SAP on the cusp of a shift to Hana, pre-Hana presentations may seem rather prosaic. But these deployments are still where the action is. Alexander Pruzhinin presented Lukoil’s use of SAP, in particular SAP Business Explorer analytics. It is not enough to make everything accessible, there is no point in drowning management with information. Some systems have been popular for a few months and then seen use decline after a year or so. Managers like tables. Dashboards are OK but may not stand the test of time. Not many ‘daily reports’ are actually viewed every day! Systems need to be designed around what management really needs to do its job. This involved a top down analysis and a big discussion with the business. In Lukoil, ERP and DCS data is fed into a warehouse of trusted data. The management portal has relatively few report forms. These forms may be simple, but they are used every day.
Suresh Pathapate presented Saudi Aramco’s plant reliability management and ‘Fracas’ implementation. Aramco’s Fracas (failure reporting analysis and corrective actions system) captures reliability data from some 29 reliability entities at Aramco. The total plant reliability management initiative targets rotating equipment. Previously expertise was scattered across the organization and knowledge sharing was poor. Fracas leverages SAP PM Master Data in fault tree and root cause analysis. Rollout began in 2013 and the program is now entering phase 2. A central database covers all maintenance entities.
Callum Davidson and Bjorn Harzer presented Subsea7’s SAP-based equipment and tools management (ETM) system, developed around the SAP ETM module. Subsea7 has tagged its kit with barcodes or Rfid tags and uses handheld scanners to track movements. Handhelds interface to SAP via web service calls using SAP PI(XI). The project encountered some issues as tagging and classifying equipment proved a ‘huge, time consuming task.’ Also scanning was not as well received by users as had been envisaged, especially offshore where it proved to be impractical. An alternative equipment receipt process using a web based interface has been implemented for vessels. Intriguingly, end user’s perception of how system and scanning would work was ‘not in line with reality.’ However the system was well received by office-based users with direct access to SAP. The control and discipline brought by the new system has reduced double booking of equipment and missing equipment items are moved from an ‘unknown’ location bucket to their correct locations as they are caught on a scan.
Brian Forbes from SAP partner AT Kearney presented on the connected oilfield and the internet of things (IoT). This promises ‘data-intensive’ integrated asset management systems leveraging a feedback loop based on multivariate algorithms and asset models, predictive analytics and cased-based reasoning in a collaborative online working environment. Here systems need to adapt over time as cause-effect relationships change with system health and/or field depletion.
The Berlin SAP event included a healthy exhibitor ecosystem where we managed to connect with Geo.E, provider of a linear network solution for pipeline/utilities blending SAP and Esri mapping. The system enables drill-down from map to asset information including color coding of pipe according to age for planned maintenance and work order creation.
Mobideo announced a SAP-qualified rapid-deployment solution (RDS) for execution of turnarounds, shutdowns and outages. RDS, which is bundled with SAP Hana and SMP 3.0, uses real time situational awareness and mobile communications to ‘make sure that the work is done right.’
OSIsoft is upgrading its SAP integration to allow Hana to ingest PI system data for predictive maintenance and analytics. Users can configure what they want out of PI and see the data in Hana.
Safran, hitherto a ‘well-kept Norwegian secret’ has received VC backing to market its Risk for project management product to the international market. R4PM now runs on Hana and is a head-on competitor to Oracle Primavera. Users include ConocoPhillips, Aker, Wintershall and Statoil. R4PM was ported to Hana in 3 weeks with help from SAP and Rolta. The Hana edition provides the speed required for interactive ‘what if’ risk evaluation. More from TA Cook.
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