In this blog post, I would like to highlight 5 key aspects of the Launchpad service which is important for anyone looking to extend their SAP solutions. Subscribing to this service on SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP) offers several benefits to organizations.
Provide a central access point for SAP apps
The Launchpad service on SAP BTP offers a cloud-based Fiori Launchpad on SAP Business Technology Platform. This serves as a single-entry point for SAP users to access applications across their landscape. Many customers are starting to leverage the Launchpad service as a central access point to provide their end users access to applications. End users can seamlessly navigate between different solutions without having to authenticate themselves. As of today, the Launchpad service supports content federation of apps from on-premise solutions like S/4HANA, SAP Business Suite, SAP Enterprise Portal and cloud solutions like S/4HANA Cloud, SAP Integrated Business Planning (IBP). With the content federation approach, apps remain in the respective backend SAP systems and are exposed to the Launchpad service via a Common Data Model (CDM). Apart from exposing the contents, the Launchpad service also offers central services like Notifications, Inbox, Enterprise Search which will apply to the connected backend systems. Please review the SAP Roadmap as to when some of these capabilities will be made available for different SAP solutions.
Its also important to note that the Launchpad service will also integrate all the custom apps which you might need to build and deploy on SAP BTP. Hence, end users get access to all the apps (Standard/Custom) all in one single place.
Extend the reach of your processes
Another common usage of the Launchpad service is to extend the reach of your processes outside your corporate network. You can create several Launchpad sites on SAP BTP each targeting different personas. For example: one for Employees and another for your vendors. This does not require exposing your SAP backend systems to the internet. SAP Cloud Connector installed on your premise securely exposes the content to the Launchpad service for consumption by authorized users.
Build and enhance Fiori apps as extensions
The Launchpad service also enables you to deploy and run Fiori apps on SAP BTP. These apps could be extensions to your SAP solutions which you can develop using tools like SAP Business Application Studio. In one of my earlier blog post, I clarified how this is different to deploying application using the Cloud Foundry runtime. The Launchpad service leverages the managed application router which is used to serve static content, authenticate users, rewrite URLs, and forward or proxy requests to other micro services while propagating user information.
I would recommend using the Cloud Foundry runtime to deploy apps based on nodejs/python (polyglot cloud-native applications) etc. For HTML5 based apps, using the managed application router provided by the SAP Launchpad service is a better choice.
Authenticate your users
The Identity Authentication service (IAS) on SAP BTP is SAP’s Cloud based Identity Provider which is used to authenticate users. With recent changes, Identity Authentication service is now included free of charge as part of the SAP BTP subscription. This is documented in the SAP BTP Service Description Guide.
With this update, organizations can use IAS to authenticate users to the Fiori Launchpad on SAP BTP. If you are using an on-premise Identity Provider and looking to move to a cloud based solution, IAS is a service which you could consider. The most common scenario I see is that, customers already have an existing SAML based Corporate Identity Provider and they leverage IAS as proxy to access SAP cloud solutions. Hence, users continue to access SAP cloud solutions with their existing credentials. IAS could be used for scenario where you are exposing the apps to external vendors/suppliers and you do not want to manage and maintain those external user in your corporate Identity provider.
Similarly, Identity Provisioning service (IPS) on SAP BTP is used to provision users and manage user roles in Cloud solutions. This is also made available as part of the SAP BTP subscription. You can find more detail on the source and target systems in the SAP Help documentation.
Mobilize your processes leveraging SAP Mobile Start
SAP Mobile Start is a native online mobile app which has been recently launched. It’s a mobile companion for the launchpad service. Any customer who has subscribed to the Launchpad service, get access to SAP Mobile Start. This mobile app provides a native entry point for users to access web-based apps as well as native apps from mobile devices. It offers a deep integration with the user experience of your mobile device by enabling apps to show as widgets, accessible via spotlight search etc. SAP Mobile Start will render the contents which have been configured within the Launchpad service and displays notifications which get generated from the backend SAP systems. For Fiori apps and contents which are in your backend SAP system, it leverages the SAP Cloud Connector to expose those contents. Hence, you don’t need to expose your systems to the internet and can quickly mobilize your key processes.
You can find more information about SAP Mobile Start in this blog post which also provides information on how to get started.
If you have not started to use the Launchpad service, go ahead and try it out either using the trial environment or the free tier model if you already have a consumption-based commercial model (CPEA or Pay-As-You-Go). The limitations for each of these are documented in SAP help. To know more about the difference between Trial Environment & Free Tier, here is a link to a blog post.
I would also like to point you to the SAP Discovery Center Missions which can guide you with the whole process of setting up a central entry point using the Launchpad service.
Below are some of the services which might be relevant for use along with the Launchpad service when trying to extend your SAP solutions. Check out the Service Catalog in the SAP discovery center for other services on SAP BTP
- SAP Business Application Studio
- SAP Cloud Transport Management
- SAP Web Analytics