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Digital Strategy, Customer Experience • 11 min read

SAP Commerce Cloud, finally in the Cloud

Igor Keshishian | 03-11-2020

Today a lot of people are talking about SAP Customer Experience (SAP CX), basically meaning SAP Commerce Cloud and other products included in the suite. Some of them know that there are 2 versions of SAP Commerce Cloud: one on a SAP infrastructure called CCv1 and a second one in the Public Cloud. And even less people know exactly what this recent version of SAP Commerce Cloud in the Public Cloud, known as CCv2, is. Why did SAP put its e-commerce cloud solution on the public cloud? What can it bring to the table? And when almost everything is on the cloud today, what makes SAP Commerce Cloud CCv2 so special? Let´s break it down for you.

FROM "CLOUD" TO CLOUD

Let’s start with what was missing from the CCv1 version. Even if it’s known as SAP Commerce Cloud on a SAP infrastructure and had the word “Cloud” in its name, it was not exactly a cloud-like edition, because of these 2 reasons:

1. The customer was just provided with 3 or 4 environments: Standard Development, Staging, Production and optional QA. Each environment was a set of virtual machines hosted by one of the SAP Data Centers running SAP Hybris Commerce.

2. To manage these environments, the customer had been granted a VPN tunnel, with no access to Staging and Production, which was reserved for SAP. So, while building the packages was your responsibility, it was not possible to perform any deployment in these environments. For any administrative tasks you had to create a change request for SAP engineers who would perform necessary actions only within business hours. Just imagine if you needed to deploy on Production late on Sunday night!

Things changed when SAP put SAP Commerce Cloud into the Public Cloud in June 2018 by calling this move CCv2. One of the cloud provider leaders, Microsoft Azure was chosen to host the platform. Now everything you need not only to build and deploy to the cloud but also to administer and monitor is there and available in the specially employed SAP Commerce Portal, that serves as a proxy between us developers and the public cloud. If you would like to know what the SAP Commerce Portal is for, let’s take a look at some of the new cornerstones of the CCv2.

PUT IT INTO CONTAINER

Once again, as with SAP Commerce Cloud on a SAP infrastructure, you’re given 3 environments: Development, Staging and Production. Each environment resides on Microsoft Azure and is provisioned with its own Kubernetes cluster that orchestrates the nodes. Each node is configured with Docker and Kubelet to allow deploying of the Docker images created by the SAP Commerce Cloud build process. Its role is defined in the Aspect configuration that is used while building. Each aspect in turn contributes to containerization by defining the roles of SAP Commerce Cloud instances in a Kubernetes cluster. As a result, the HAC application is containerized on the nodes with the roles of “back office”, “accstorefront” and “backgroundProcessing”, and SmartEdit is distributed on nodes with roles of “backoffice” and “api” for example.

The SAP Commerce Portal facilitates work with the different environments. The endpoints with their configuration, cloud storages, deployment configurations, services, snapshots and monitoring are all here for you to manage.

OPEN SESAME 

SAP has made a long journey to finally integrate with industry standards like Git when talking about code versioning. For a long time, SAP didn’t leave you with another option other than coding right inside the business system where the code is executed. Poor ABAP programmers even in the 21st century are still haunted by the nightmares from the 70’s Then there was the Java Netweaver platform that emerged at the beginning of the 2000’s that brought new products for code management, but only on the Java side. Eventually we had to wait until very recently for SAP to integrate with open-source distributed version control systems like Git.

First introduced for development on SAP HANA, Git integration was quickly adapted for SAP Commerce Cloud and is now its native part. It means for us, developers and integrators, that the building of a continuous integration (CI) pipeline is now an integral part of the platform. SAP Commerce Cloud CCv2 is directly connected to any Git-based code repository, you just need to specify its address in the SAP Commerce Cloud Portal and set a SSH public key into your Git code repository for authorization. Once this is done, you just need to click on the button “Deploy to Environment”, choose environment and deployment options if you want to build and deploy.

SPARTACUS TO GUIDE FRONTEND LEGIONS

Much has already been said about headless solutions, their advantages and their impact on technology and the e-commerce market. But this is not all that is involved when talking about SAP Commerce Cloud CCv2.

One of the most important technological shifts introduced into this version is the use of an Angular-based JavaScript storefront called Spartacus on the frontend level. This is a decoupled, open-source storefront which uses omni-commerce connect (OCC) APIs to communicate with the SAP Commerce Cloud backend. But no worries for those of you who are into the SAP proprietary frontends like B2C or B2B Accelerators – they are still there in the CCv2. It is exactly where headless come into play - Spartacus just decouples itself from the backend system and doesn’t necessarily replace old good Accelerators! It creates another additional touchpoint that runs on the same backend.

What else does Spartacus bring? Being developed as a SPA (Single-Page Application), that is a web application that loads only one single page and then updates its body by AJAX calls via REST API, it is a move toward a PWA (Progressive Web Application) which represents a new concept for frontend applications covering all kinds of frontends (desktop, mobile, smart devices etc).

WHERE WILL IT BRING US?

SAP is making giant steps to cover the technological gap in order to be a leader in the cloud market and to be considered as a tough rival. Its cloud-based solutions are flourishing and evolving; but there is still room for improvement. Let’s try to summarize what could be expected from CCv2:

1. Spartacus is supposed to replace B2C and B2B accelerators. It is already the case for the B2C accelerator and now SAP is working to add the B2B functionality into Spartacus.

2. Improvements in the building and deployment processes, which take a large amount of time, can be expected together with flexibility of building customization. These improvements aim to eliminate any manual operations when building a CI pipeline.

3. Integration with SAP Commerce Datahub, SAP Cloud Platform Integration, Cloud Platform Extension Factory and the SAP Cloud Platform itself, together with integration with SAP S/4HANA.

4. Unification of all SAP cloud interfaces. With this unification could come also rebranding and replatforming.

The most important thing concerning SAP Commerce Cloud CCv2 is the transition that liberates customers from managing complex infrastructures, with in-house development, to managing the implementation of business solutions using an open source approach. So, if you are thinking about giving your users a better customer experience and democratizing your development, CCv2 with Spartacus is a very good option.

This blog was originally published at sqli-digital-experience.com

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Igor Keshishian

E-commerce Developer, SQLI

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