Blog entry by Phil Martin
You may have heard that SAP has a new advanced variant configurator in S/4HANA. But what does that mean? Initially, I was a bit confused when I first heard about it probably over a year ago but with the CWG Conferences in Europe and the US have been the ideal place to learn about it. So here are some questions and answers. These are my opinions and are not providing guidance on decisions you may take.
Does the AVC (Advanced Variant Configurator) replace the existing variant configurator?
For the on-premise version, the answer is it can, but you have the choice of which models you want to migrate and those you may not want to. For the cloud version, there is only the AVC.
What do you mean, you can choose?
The reality for companies who have many VC models developed over many years, it can be a huge task to migrate models to the AVC. So in the configuration profile and constraints, there is a new "Processing Mode" where you can set as classic or AVC. Models can live side by side.
Is the migration as simple as choosing the Processing Mode as AVC?
No. The AVC is basically a new configuration engine. The classic VC engine was developed back in the '90s. Just think what your car was like back in the '90s. Now think what we have now and how technology has changed. So the AVC is running modern technical approaches. In simple terms - in many cases, your current logic may work - "technically" but the final result might be wrong.
Or they may not run at all!
What do you mean when you say it may run but give an incorrect result?
Visually the PMEVC modelling environment is the same, and we see the same sort of dependencies such as constraints, procedures, preconditions and selection conditions. It all runs in Fiori as well. But the behaviour in the AVC is different.
For example, the new constraint engine is totally different. If you want to know the detail start here then here. It runs differently, it processes constraints differently. The syntax is treated differently. Also, an interesting area is preconditions. As you may know, I avoid preconditions, but in the AVC they work more like a constraint and so the behaviour will be different.
So will there be tools to help me transition?
Yes. There will be tools to identify deltas required, tools to copy models like Transaction VCHMOVCOPY. I personally can not comment on these yet as I haven't used them. There is a presentation by Steve Schneider at the Nashville Conference (2018). If you are a member you can find it here.
Why would I want to use the AVC? What's the benefit?
SAP is investing heavily in the AVC. It will be more powerful, more enriched, faster, and the platform to support newer technologies and functionality. There will be a point where it will become compelling. Think of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, complex rules and integrations. Even basic LOVC restrictions with multi-value characteristics and constraints disappear. By default, the AVC treats everything as restrictable.
From what I have seen, good modelling practices that the CWG and our VC Essentials Course promote, still apply when moving to the AVC. The AVC is a constraint-based engine, and that is where your models should be heading.
At Radiant Think the new AVC is an exciting prospect and we look forward to its development and helping customers learn to use it, migrate to it and explore what it offers.