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SAP TechEd 2012: Day 1

Day 1, all I can really say is Wow! I attended sessions on the latest addition to the SAP's Identity Management line up, some of it's oldest technology and the future of the NetWeaver IDM.  After today's session, my mind is completely blown away.

I started the day with two informative sessions on SAP's Single Sign-on Offering based on the technology asset acquisition from SECUDE about 18 months ago. SAP has clearly recognized that information security must begin at the login and proceed from there.  I'm looking forward to learning more about it over the next year or so.  It's a major technology on my radar and should be considered as a key strategic goal for all SAP implementations.

The next session was based on a favorite technology of mine, the Virtual Directory Server (VDS).  Virtual Directory technology has been the "next big thing" in Identity Management for many years now. It appears that SAP's use of Virtual Directory not only as an LDAP proxy, but also as a Web Services Proxy could very well make this the case, particularly in the SAP ecosystem. Miroslav Jokic, SAP's VDS expert, back to the MaXware days gave a great presentation. In an hour long session, Misa gave a thorough overview of VDS, explaining it's architecture, basic use cases and extended use cases when working with Web Services. Clearly this is a technology whose time has come.

The third session of the day dealt with best practices for implementing SAP IDM. While focused on consultants, Kåre Indrøy, presented a good 10 point plan that is applicable to any IDM implementation. In the second half of the presentation, we received an excellent briefing on the new SAP Rapid Deployment Framework for IDM developed by SAP Consulting. While somewhat limited in scope, it certainly does appear to be something that can be quickly implemented for most small to mid-sized clients if all of the pre-requisites are met.

All of these new features will be available in NetWeaver IDM SP 6 which should be available in 2-3 weeks.  Most are also available in SP 5, but not through the Web UI.

Now we come to the Crown Jewel of the day, which was a 2 hour presentation by Kåre and John Erik Setsaas showing the latest functionality to be released shortly in Service Pack 6 for NetWeaver IDM 7.2 and what we can expect to see in the next 6-9 months. Approvals are being enhanced again, making them more functional than ever, particularly where declines and assignments are involved.  Automatic Delegation is now available to designate temporary approvers when the primary approver will not be available.  

NOTE: Everything that follows is conceptual and is not guaranteed to be in any future version of NetWeaver Identity Management.
Trace functionality is also improved with additional control from the Web UI, which will be a boon to IDM developers. Also added to the Web UI is a new SQL Execution reporting interface that will report on database queries that last longer than a predefined limit.  This is a significant enhancement of the Configuration Analyzer's ability to detect inefficient queries and will be something that IDM Administrators will be very interested in.

The last part of the presentation was the really exciting part.  Kåre and John showed us some of the functions that we could be seeing beyond Service Pack 6. Access to the Administration Console looks like it will be getting some tightening along with some locking of objects being worked on in the Admin console. It's been a long standing issue that only one user should be accessing an IDM object in the MMC console at a time (Personally, I'm not found of two people looking at the same configuration at the same time) When the user is done editing and checks the object back in, it becomes available for editing by another IDM administrative user, Additional UME based security is being considered to restrict access to the IDM administrative objects as well.

Also it has been confirmed that DB2 will be supported by IDM in the near future.  The DB2 version will only work if the DB2 Database has been prepared to run in "Oracle Mode"  I'm sure we will be getting more information soon.

The Pièce de résistance of the afternoon was a brief overview of an early alpha version of a new Development UI. I'm not going into a lot of detail here since it was such an early release, but suffice it to say that a 21st century, eclipse based interface is on the horizon, and for those like me who have been working with this interface for the last 8+ years it appears that this will be the answer to our prayers.

I did not cover everything mentioned in these presentations for a couple of reasons.  One, I'd be writing for hours and I need to get some sleep tonight so I can be ready for tomorrow's sessions.  Two, this is SAP TechEd and you should be here.  If you're wondering is it worth it, I say YES! Hopefully this information will make you feel the same way!

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More Stories By Matthew Pollicove

Matt Pollicove is an Identity Management architect, engineer, trainer, project manager, author and blogger with experience in user account provisioning, data synchronization, virtual directory and password management solutions. As a MaXware Technical Consultant and later as a System Engineer, he worked extensively with MaXware (now SAP) software products in large customer environments. In the past Matt has worked with several leading national and international consulting firms and is currently a Sr. Principal Consultant for Commercium Technologies. He is currently the Practice Lead for SAP NetWeaver Identity Management and SailPoint IIQ.

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