People Who Don’t Believe SAP needs Performance Testing
StarBase have done a lot of testing of SAP and it’s always interesting, there are just so many different modules and combinations of modules that people can, and do, use.
One of the things in common though is that there are always a number of project people who do not believe SAP needs performance testing, just throw enough SAPs at it and it’ll be OK. Strangely SAP themselves aren’t in this camp, they’ve partnered with HP to ensure that LoadRunner works well with SAP and even resell LoadRunner themselves (with an extended SAP bundle for SAP testing only). I just wonder how many implementations have been hit by the “doesn’t need performance testing, it’s got lots of SAPs” when one of the “z” transactions, or even a small user exit, has been badly coded and performs badly enough to affect the whole system.
Pioneers of SAP BPC 10 Performance Testing using LoadRunner
Our current client does believe in performance testing and for the last few months we’ve been preparing to run our first testing cycle. As we’ve been doing this preparation they threw a new SAP module at us – BPC. This gave a new challenge as we’d never met this module before and it doesn’t use any of the standard SAP interfaces. A quick “Google” didn’t come up with much other than a link to an SAP utility (more on that later) so we could be among the pioneers of performance testing BPC 10 using HP’s LoadRunner!
The testing of BPC is being treated as a separate performance testing exercise as it sits on its own server. That’s lead to this series of articles imaginatively called “SAP BPC Performance Testing”.
So what is BPC? It’s one of the newer components of SAP and came from an acquisition made by SAP (Business Objects I believe). It stands for Business Planning and Consolidation. It works off the back of the BI/BW components of SAP and, certainly in our case, sits on a separate server to the main components of SAP. The implementation we’re working with is 400 million rows currently and is expected to grow to just over a billion over the next 3 years before data consolidation kicks in. We’re not testing the BI/BW components so we’re not interested in the impact of the extract and build process from ECC (ERP Central Component); what we want to understand is the BPC usage of the generated data models.
There are some interesting aspects to performance testing BPC, the main ones being that the client software is either MS Office based or Flash in the browser. There’s also the minor fact that both pieces of software have some interesting foibles and are, IMHO, distinctly unstable.
The Flash interface is fairly straightforward, it just doesn’t always build itself properly. The pane containing the model information and your activities will sometimes be left blank. A refresh usually fixes it but that causes problems in LoadRunner where you get the start up requests recorded twice.
The EPM MS Office interface is an add-in to Word, Excel or PowerPoint, This article is based on using the MS Excel version of the add-in but I would expect they would all work the same way. The add-in adds two extra tabs to your Excel menu bar, ‘EPM (Enterprise Performance Management) Add-in’ and ‘Data Manager’. The EPM tab is used to load reports and input forms from the server into the spread sheet and to upload spread sheet changes back to the server whilst the Data Manager tab is used to submit and monitor background tasks manipulating server side data. If you logged in through the EPM tab then refreshing some reports will, seemingly arbitrarily, log you out which gives you an HTTP 403, unauthorised error. The recorded scripts have shown that it’s not a loss of network connectivity as the commands to perform the log out are recorded. As a tip: We found that if you log in via the Data Manager tab rather than the EPM tab this happens much less frequently.
In both interfaces the connection to the server is via Web Service calls through a RESTful interface. And here lies our first major challenge: In our experience HP LoadRunner doesn’t much like Flash or Excel clients and this case is no different, it can’t record them properly! You can record a script for the browser based Flash interface but it isn’t right, I didn’t even try the Excel interface.
In my next entry I will describe a method to get round this issue…