Printing in the SAP S/4HANA Cloud
Thursday, September 30, 2021
by Al Nichols
It’s been a long time since I last blogged about SAP and VPSX Enterprise Output Management. Maybe too long. But with all the SAP architecture changes in recent years, especially those involving the Cloud, I thought it was time to sum up the “state of the nation.”
SAP has rapidly moved to support the new Cloud realities, and their terminology has changed again, so we now have S/4HANA Any Premise. This solution is suitable to run in HANA Enterprise Cloud (HEC), with other Cloud providers, or in an On-Premise environment. LRS continues to integrate well with any of these deployment scenarios, and we have obtained HEC approval in addition to our BC-XOM certification. Along with the HEC service from SAP, other Cloud providers (T-Systems international, for example) host environments with the LRS linkage to integrate VPSX/OutputManager and SAP through the BC-XOM interface.
Of course, it doesn’t stop there. SAP also offers different packages like S/4HANA (ES) — that’s essentials — and S/4HANA (EX) – that’s extended.
As it turns out, there’s a BIG difference between these two options. S/4HANA EX uses the standard ABAP stack, and spooling and BC-XOM feedback are available, meaning everything continues to work as in the past. So for this variant (with HEC approval), you can continue to use VPSX/Output Manager just as you did before implementing EX.
ES is a different kettle of fish. There is no ABAP stack, no spool, and no BC-XOM, but nevertheless VPSX can still be used. You can integrate SAP Cloud Printing (SAPCPRINT) and VPSX Windows printers just by installing SAPCPRINT on a server with VPSX-defined printers. Or, for a more flexible approach, you can use the VPSX mobile printing extension. Using the email channel from ES to print provides an extra advantage in that Office (and many other) formatted attachments can also be printed. Such print jobs can be directed at specific pull print users as well. We are working on our own certified integration on a non-polling basis, which will hopefully be certified with the ICC in short order. That will allow you to replace SAPCPRINT with LRS code that lets you directly interface to our printers without the need for Windows.
Interestingly, SAP chose to implement a new output management system (as they called it) and this led to great confusion with some customers. Some assumed this meant that SAP was getting Enterprise Output Management features built in, and others thought that this would make BC-XOM no longer work. Neither of those statements is true; SAP is using the words “Output Management” to describe the part of their technology that links the program to the production of documents. This is entirely different from what the rest of the world calls Enterprise Output Management, with its key feature of assured delivery and feedback. SAP has assured us that for all modules, even the new ones, connection type ‘E’ printers will be available for such output, and thus the BC-XOM interface will continue to work.
Of course, the Cloud revolution has not bypassed LRS either. We have embraced it, and our core product now fully supports printing (including scanning and pull printing) across the Internet. Let’s be clear about what that means: it means you do not need a VPN or direct network connectivity or a reverse proxy to address your SAP printers in any given location. As long as the site where the printers are located has access to the public Internet, our new clients will register through the Cloud and will send and receive notifications and print jobs in a secure manner to USB and local network printers. No firewall or router changes are required. This is useful in the real world, as many of our customer organizations work with outsourced warehouses and require logistics-related SAP output printing at those locations. Since those outsourced locations are not inside our customers’ networks, they need a convenient yet secure way to connect all the dots. LRS allows you to get it all working without setting up and administering network connectivity like VPNs, WANs, etc.
Our authentication capabilities have been upgraded as well. Of course, the standard LDAP/S and AD continues to be supported and these have been enhanced for better forest and multi forest integration. However, now with LRS Gateway, we have oAuth2 support and SignalR support as well. This allows our customers to run VPSX itself in the Cloud. For those wanting to jump in with both feet, VPSX is also now available in a SaaS model, wherein you can have the experts (i.e., LRS Managed Services professionals) running your VPSX instance for you.
In all of these scenarios, we continue to fully support BC-XOM functionality including the “printer extensions” no work on printer definitions is required in SAP. Everything is taken care of automatically by VPSX when you modify your printer definitions in the EOM system. It’s all just one more example of the adage: “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”