SAP Identity Management (IDM) 7.2 has reached the end of life, with maintenance for this version of the software set to be withdrawn by the end of 2018.
With no extended support available thereafter, organisations running IDM 7.2 must now upgrade to version 8.0 - or be able and prepared to develop custom fixes to keep the legacy solution operational.
Users staying on IDM 7.2 may find it difficult to get any support for issues going forward, which could have a severe impact on the whole access provisioning process.
In the worst case scenario, the automated user lifecycle process could stop working - and while there are always manual fall-backs, these can be very labour intensive. With no support available (and often no documentation to explain how this process will work without SAP IDM), you may have to rely on the knowledge of those who originally designed or implemented the system.
From a business continuity perspective this is not life-threatening, but it could mean users aren't provisioned correctly for a period a time, with unavoidable consequences for productivity and security.
Upgrading to IDM 8.0 removes all of these concerns - while also bringing a host of new functionality to the table.
The benefits of upgrading to SAP IDM 8.0
Upgrading to the latest version of SAP’s Identity Management solution not only brings the peace of mind of ongoing maintenance, fixes and support, but also opens up a range of new features designed to improve the tool’s usability.
SAP IDM 8.0 offers enhanced change control on configuration, and adds native connectivity for additional systems such as SalesForce and SAP HANA - which previously had to be custom built.
The new version of the tool also sees Eclipse IDE replace the former management console (MMC), bringing a range of scripting and development benefits, while reducing administrative overheads.
This isn’t a minor upgrade. The architecture and concept of the IDM product has been changed, so migration from one version to the next requires more than just a few file executions.
You should therefore start planning your upgrade - ideally with the assistance of an experienced partner - as soon as possible.
Planning your upgrade - the key considerations
Once you’ve made the decision to upgrade to SAP IDM 8.0, you have two options in how to approach it. Firstly, a direct technical upgrade, or alternatively a ‘side-car’ implementation with migration of existing functionality.
To get the full benefit of IDM 8.0’s new features, the latter approach will typically be the most effective - and indeed, SAP itself recommends this ‘clean upgrade’ approach.
Data migration will be a key consideration in your upgrade plan, and due to the changes in the product’s functionality, all scenarios, scripts and functions must be revisited and thoroughly tested for compatibility.
You’ll want to define use cases in scope, too, and identify anything that can be left behind in the old solution.
From a more technical perspective, it’s important to note that AS Java has become a mandatory component for developers of the solution, as a result of the switch from MMC to Eclipse.
SAP Identity Management now requires Java Runtime 1.8, so customised solutions based on previous incarnations must be migrated to the newer version, while Windows Runtime users must also switch to Java.
Similarly, users of Lotus Notes are required to migrate to a new Java-based connector.
Where to start with your upgrade…and when
The final key consideration in your upgrade plan should be the criticality of the timeline.
You’ll need to consider how disruptive the impact on your organisation might be if you run into issues with your existing 7.x software - given that support from SAP has now reached its end.
For many businesses, unsupported software is simply not a risk worth taking, so you should start planning your migration right away.
Upgrading to SAP IDM 8.0 will require a effort, but it shouldn’t be viewed as an inconvenience - rather it is an ideal opportunity to clean up the system and all the important processes surrounding it.
Start by revisiting all the use cases, documenting your existing pain points so that they can be addressed as part of the upgrade project - engaging stakeholders at every stage of the process to ensure a strategy that works right across your organisation.