As system environments become more and more powerful, they are inevitably becoming increasingly complex. Therefore, complete company management concepts and innovative application management are a must. According to AMR Research, a market research company, implementing the SAP Solution Manager is key if SAP customers want to simplify and improve their support and maintenance processes.
The platform operates as the “control center” for managing SAP environments and update, service and support processes in a uniform and efficient manner. Furthermore, SAP is continuing to develop the SAP Solution Manager so that customers can operate their system environments even more efficiently in the future.
As a result of this ongoing process, SAP has extended the latest Release 4.0 of the SAP Solution Manager to include new, powerful functions and has expanded and improved existing features. The platform now offers improved support for ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) concepts by providing suitable methods, services and tools that take ITIL Best Practices into account. The new book about the SAP Solution Manager devotes a whole chapter to ITIL processes, such as service delivery, service support and in particular application management, and examines their relationship with the service platform.
Central portal for maintenance processes
The Maintenance Optimizer is a new function with strategic importance. In future, it will be the central portal for planning, implementing and transparently managing all maintenance-related activities. Preconfigured and comprehensive processes make it easier to manage and maintain the entire SAP environment. The tool is absolutely essential for the new release of mySAP Business Suite and its follow-up versions and for all applications and solutions based on SAP NetWeaver 2004s. However, it can also be used with existing SAP solutions.
The Maintenance Optimizer will be available from January 1, 2007 as part of SAP Solution Manager 4.0. Customers still using SAP Solution Manager 3.2 will have access to a limited range of functions. From April 2, 2007, the Maintenance Optimizer will be the only way for SAP customers to access support packages as part of their maintenance contract as it will have to be used to download all patches and updates.
Correct diagnosis every time
Due to increasingly complex system environments, the stability and security of ABAP support had to be transferred to a support structure system located in a non-ABAP environment. Therefore, diagnostic functionality is now one of the key components of the SAP Solution Manager, with the Java-based part of the SAP NetWeaver Application Server being integrated in the monitoring functions (monitoring and root cause analysis) of the service platform.
Special tools are provided for the Java stack to analyze performance problems in portals. These tools include, for example, applications such as thread dump and HTTP analysis, log configuration, portal activity reports, Java/HTTP functions – such as Web Dynpro or Open SQL monitoring – as well as tools from other manufacturers such as Wily Introscope and Mercury Loadrunner. The ABAP stack can be analyzed using the database, operating system or alert monitoring functions.
The fact that the tools are integrated directly in the portal makes the analysis process easier, as the Support team has additional, standardized procedures for performing the root cause analysis. Plus, the individual functions and tools can be selected and accessed centrally and intuitively using a Web browser. This advantage can be underlined by the example of an end-to-end process:
There can be any number of reasons for performance problems in the SAP NetWeaver Portal environment, ranging from browser configuration, through network problems, down to bottlenecks in the hardware or backend systems. Several tools from the ABAP and Java stack are required for the analysis, such as an HTTP analyzer, monitoring functions and a performance testing tool. Once the cause of the performance problems has been discovered – in this case, for example, the browser – the diagnostics functionality in the SAP Solution Manager displays the analysis results so that they are easy to understand.
The proposed solution – for example a browser update – is then entered as a change request. Change Request Management logs the complete process from change request through to approval, and maps most of the data automatically, thus reducing the possibility of errors. The diagnostics functions also make the support processes more secure as the support organization no longer has to make any changes to the live system.
In the current release of the SAP Solution Manager, SAP has increased the functionality of the “Service Desk” and “Solution Reporting” significantly. Solution Reporting enables the SAP system environment to be monitored over extended periods and analyzed according to specific criteria. The collected data provides information on, for example, the availability of SAP solutions, the growth of the database, the number of active users, or the average speed of dialog response times in a certain period. This function allows users to identify trends, such as the reduced availability of an SAP solution at certain times, and lets them analyze and repair the causes quickly. Solution Reporting provides report tools for the areas Service, Administration, Service Desk, Change Management and Issues/Top Issues, and collects data for analysis in SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence. Users can create jobs for the different areas, which will then generate reporting documents on a regular basis and store them automatically in the correct areas of the SAP Solution Manager, for example Service or Administration.
Moreover, Solution Reporting creates a complete, detailed overview of any implemented changes, supplements existing tools for Service and Application Management, and is an important link with the ITIL-compliant IT Service Management (ITSM). In this way, it is possible to monitor the agreed service level efficiently and intervene in good time if it cannot be maintained. This function benefits SAP users who must meet compliance requirements or adhere to legal documentation regulations.
Incidents, for example technical or security problems, are now quick and easy to process thanks to the extended Service Desk. Incident messages can be created directly from a transaction. For example, if a user reports performance problems during the “Order Processing” business process in mySAP Customer Relationship Management (mySAP CRM), the IT department can track the problems using this process. At the same time, the SAP Solution Manager provides all necessary technical data on an incident automatically. This data can include, for example, the name of the SAP solution and transaction in which an error occurred and the current system and support package status.
Service Desk employees can process messages via a Web-based interface (Interaction Center Web Client) and have a range of options at their fingertips. They can either enter the symptoms directly in an internal solution database and search for existing solutions there, or search for notes in the SAP Service Marketplace (service.sap.com) directly from the message. If the Customer Support team cannot find a solution, the message is forwarded to SAP’s Active Global Support team. Users can track the progress and status of the problem at any time in the Service Desk.
End-to-end process support
The SAP Solution Manager is not just a stable tool for solution management – more than ever before, its new and extended functions make it a bridge between the IT and business world. This is because it includes not only business management scenarios, processes and process steps, but also information on technical requirements. The SAP Solution Manager proposes solutions to an incident from the perspective of the processes and at the same time supplies the necessary technical data.
This solution delivers a complete picture that covers both technical and business management perspectives and enables transparent, end-to-end solution support. This leads to optimized maintenance processes, reduced IT total operating costs and smooth operation of core business processes.
SAP Solution Manager
Marc Oliver Schäfer/ Matthias Melich
ca. 552 pages, hardback, in German
ca. Euro 69.90
No delivery change for Germany and Austria
English edition will be available from the end of 2006