Where’s My Data?

So you have SAP’s SaaS Learning module and you’re extra happy with it. But now that you’ve moved off premise into the cloud, your shiny business intelligence tool is starving for data. There’s no easy way to pull bulk data out of SAP’s cloud Learning offering available in the user interface, and some of the other out-of-box offerings are problematic:

  • Integration center doesn’t support the Learning module specific data.
  • Reports are clunky and can suffer from performance and size problems as the amount of data you need to pull increases.
  • Things like search result saving is a manual effort.

What do you do?

Enter Data Services

SAP offers data services as a separate contract offering. Data services include “packages” of available tables from the Learning database, which include a significant portion of the database objects. You select the packages with the tables you need for your integration. These objects are then delivered as delimited exported files on a regular basis. 

Typically, you will receive a full export to begin the process and then a daily delta file for each table in the packages you requested. Full exports are then available on a request basis by submitting a ticket to SAP, and they are useful for “truing up” at the end of whatever period may be relevant for your business needs.

Now What Do I Do?

While your specific implementation details will be driven by your in-house technology and business needs, the major steps can be broken down into broad areas as seen below.

  • The Delivery – The files generated by SAP are delivered to your assigned SAP SFTP site. You will need to retrieve them somehow and if relevant, decrypt them.
  • The Consumption – You will then need to get the data into your target system with a tool like Oracle sqlldr or something similar. You may wish to preprocess the data a bit to make sure formatting, delimiters, and the like are suitable for your environment.
  • The Considerations – Keep in mind these are direct exports of data. So if you have carriage returns in your feeds, internationalization of any data, or any other elements that may affect your import, ensure those things are accounted for in your integration plans.

Hopefully the data services options will help prime the pump for any integration, reporting, or business intelligence data issues you may face with your adoption of SAP’s Learning module.

Chris Olive

“Specialization is for insects.” – Robert Heinlein, Time Enough for Love

My parents were both technology focused teachers when I was a kid, and my father was a high school math teacher so in the ‘80s he was the “computer teacher” too. This meant I was lucky enough to have an actual computer in our house, an Apple //e. I clearly remember my father bringing home the sample programming exercises (in Basic!) for me to practice. From there, I moved on to entering the example programs from the back of computer magazines myself and tinkering with them. It was this that made me realize that the flexibility of the computer made it the ultimate tool to solve problems.

I also read a lot of science fiction when I was a kid. They were mostly the “classics” of the genre from the 1950s or so. I clearly remember Heinlein’s exhortation and that the main characters were inevitably able to do just about anything they needed to do to survive with their wide-ranging knowledge of multiple subjects. They knew metallurgy, biology, survival skills, hunting, cooking, sewing, and more in a large array of skills.

I resolved to do the same.

While I have not come close to mastery in all these skills, the notion of the “Renaissance Man” drove my early desire to learn as much as possible about as many things as possible. This led me to the Jesuits and their idea of “care for the whole person” and eventually led me to have my undergraduate education at Loyola College in Baltimore (now called Loyola University Maryland).

Combining both technology and the humanities helped put perspective on how computers and other technology really were just tools and that we were solving people problems even though we were using technology to do so. That remains true even now with the clients I help. They are just trying to overcome an obstacle and the method to fix it is immaterial. I happen to use technology as a tool for much of the time but there are human fixes that can be applied to human problems too.

At the bottom of every request there is a person trying to do their job. Sometimes they don’t really know what the source of their frustration might be which is why I always start by asking “What is the problem you’re trying to solve?” I figured if it was good enough of a starting place for Richard Feynman it would have to be good enough for me. Once these problems are clearly outlined, they are solvable. I enjoy helping people and solving problems. These things all work together.

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