Wednesday 13 July 2022

The SAP Geoenablement Framework (GEF) now authenticates with ArcGIS Enterprise

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GEF is integrated into SAP Plant Maintenance.GEF allows Plant Maintenance users to do their tasks using a map – regardless of whether the customer is running SAP ERP Central Component (ECC), SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA (Suite on HANA), or SAP S/4HANA.

The benefits of geospatially enabled business processes are clear. By using a map based UI, the user needs little or no training to perform their tasks, the chances of incorrect data being introduced into a system are greatly reduced and insights are absorbed by the user very quickly. Map based user interfaces can greatly improve the productivity of the user.

Many organizations use an Enterprise GIS (EGIS) like ArcGIS Enterprise to create and manage geometries that represents assets they own, manage or both. This is especially true in asset intensive industries like utilities, departments of transportation (DOT), rail and energy. Those organizations not only use ArcGIS Enterprise as the system of record (SOR) for geometries but also as a system of engagement to consume and share insight into those geometries. They also utilize an ERP, like SAP S/4HANA, to manage the financial and maintenance aspects of their assets, in particular the Plant Maintenance module. It’s otherwise known as Enterprise Asset Management (EAM).

To provide the advantages of a map-based interface to SAP Plant Maintenance workers, SAP created the Geoenablement Framework (GEF) and integrates that framework into SAP Plant Maintenance out-of-the-box. GEF is now part of SAP Spatial Asset Management (SAM). GEF is available in the real estate module (ReFX) and PPM (Project Management) as an engineered service. GEF also does something else very important as it makes the digital core of S/4HANA spatially aware. Thus, a benefit is maintenance plans can have a geometry that spatially describes the maintenance plan. As an example, this screenshot shows the ability to create a maintenance order directly from a map within Plant Maintenance.

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Creating a maintenance order in GEF

Another example would be a maintenance plan defined for a park where the park consists of multiple parcels. When system of record geometries are managed by ArcGIS Enterprise, GEF enables the Plant Maintenance user to group together asset geometries and manage them as a group. Another benefit of GEF is the ability to create work orders or notifications simply by drawing around a group of assets. Plant Maintenance creates either one notification (or work order) for all of the circled assets or create one for each asset – the user simply draws a circle/square/lasso around assets and clicks a button. Important note: GEF makes Plant Maintenance spatially aware. Here is a screenshot showing a search for maintenance orders simply by drawing a lasso around the desired assets:

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Searching for a maintenance orders in GEF

GEF relies on ArcGIS Enterprise for geometries of assets because the system of record for those geometries is always ArcGIS Enterprise. GEF also allows the user to create geometries that describe the area with which to create work orders, notifications or to create a maintenance plan. These geometries are called transactional geometries because they describe an area where work applies to whatever asset geometries are in that area. Transactional geometries are maintained by GEF in a HANA instance. For example, a maintenance plan for power pole inspections applies to any power poles in the related transactional geometry. The Plant Maintenance worker simply draws a geometry around the desired assets without ever leaving Plant Maintenance.

GEF complements ArcGIS Enterprise because it relies on asset geometries stored in ArcGIS Enterprise and GEF enables Plant Maintenance users to work on a map. When the feature classes in ArcGIS Enterprise contain the SAP object key, these transactional geometries can be retrieved by ArcGIS Enterprise. This spatial task is accomplished by putting a geodatabase on the SAP HANA platform and using built in SAP HANA functionality to query these geometries on the fly from the SAP HANA instance geodatabase.

Here is a screenshot of work orders from GEF for power poles displayed on an ArcGIS web map. Also notice the SQL query that retrieves the work order geometries and attributes from the S/4HANA system. This transactional data would help the operations side of a utility understand where notifications or work orders exist and on what asset they apply to.

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Displaying maintenance orders from GEF on a web map in ArcGIS Pro

Starting in October 2021 with the October 2021 EAM release, GEF now authenticates against ArcGIS Enterprise which means it uses ArcGIS named users. Previously, only ArcGIS Online secured services were supported via ArcGIS individual user login. Secured ArcGIS server access was via manual token generation from the server and entered into the SAP configuration for the GEF layer. This required refresh of the token prior to expiration.

In the October 2021 EAM release, we extended customizing to define ArcGIS Enterprise Authorization endpoints (including ArcGIS Online, Enterprise Portal and Hosted Services). This enables assignment of the authorization service to the GEF layers via SAP configuration. The SAP Identity Authorization Service was also integrated to allow SAP SSO to connect to Esri Enterprise Authorization via SAML2.

When a user selects a secured layer in the GEF Explorer, the system prompts you once for credentials via individual or Enterprise login (SAML2) for each different authorization service. All services/layers secured by an Authorization provider use same provided token from that provider for the session. This means that layers from different hosted services can be accessed directly from SAP using the named user credentials. Net net, is GEF authenticates with ArcGIS Enterprise using named users.

With this integration now available, it offers all kinds of possibilities – stay tuned! We will be looking at how we can more deeply integrate ArcGIS capabilities into the GEF Explorer. SAP and Esri to continue to deepen the integration of ArcGIS Enterprise with S/4HANA, HANA Cloud and BTP.

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