Reaching the Goal Easily

With more than 50 components, the mySAP ERP 2005 business application is an excellent example of flexibility. Every SAP customer can decide for themselves which of the available software components they want to use. In addition to the SAP ERP Central Component (SAP ECC), the solution contains numerous other software “modules” for different industries, scenarios, and services. In addition, as the basis for mySAP ERP 2005, the SAP NetWeaver 2004s platform offers different “usage types”, which the customer can use to define whether SAP NetWeaver is to run with or without Business Intelligence and Portal functions. The customer is also able to run its components centrally or distributed across several hosts.

Finding corrections more quickly

SAP uses Support Packages to provide corrections and improvements for individual software components as part of maintenance. Previously, the customer downloaded the packages from SAP Service Marketplace and installed them on the host on which the software component was located. However, in view of the growing number of possible combinations for the components and installation options, it is very difficult to carry out maintenance consistently and transparently.
This complexity can be overcome with the Maintenance Optimizer, which has been available in SAP Solution Manager since December 2006. As of April 2007, it will be the only source for downloading Support Packages or legal changes for SAP NetWeaver 2004s and applications based on this, such as mySAP ERP 2005. The Maintenance Optimizer can be used to maintain other SAP solutions, or the previous procedure can still be used.

New maintenance process
New maintenance process

As soon as the customer has selected the product version to be maintained, the Maintenance Optimizer displays the relevant corrections directly – both the Support Packages (Stacks) and legal changes. The customer therefore no longer needs to look for them on the SAP Service Marketplace. This ensures that all the required packages are implemented and the SAP solution is available again in consistent form, once maintenance has been completed.
Another advantage is the fact that the whole maintenance process now takes place completely in SAP Solution Manager and is fully documented, including approval of the download and import of changes.

Software maintenance in five steps

In SAP Solution Manager, the user goes from the “Solution Operation” area (transaction: Solution_Manager) to the Maintenance Optimizer via the “Change Management” -> “Support Package Stacks” tab page. A double-click on the “Maintenance Optimizer” button launches a five-step guided procedure for the maintenance process.

  • In the fist step, the customer is asked to enter the basic data for the maintenance process, for example the name of the project, the priority, the requestor, and the person responsible. The product version to be maintained is also selected, for example the SAP ECC 5.0 component. If the customer is running several systems with the same product version, it is necessary to state which one of these is affected.
  • The files to be downloaded must then be selected. For this, the Maintenance Optimizer clearly displays the download files for the specified product version from the SAP Service Marketplace in a separate window. The customer moves the files they want to the download basket.
  • Once the selection is confirmed in the Maintenance Optimizer, the third step is the download itself. SAP Download Manager is still available for this.
  • Next comes the implementation of the corrections. For subsequent reporting, the customer enters the start, end, and current status of implementation in the Maintenance Optimizer for each individual system of the product version. Reporting in the Maintenance Optimizer provides information on which approvals were given, when, and by whom, and which correction was implemented, among other things. The documentation on the corrections and their side effects can also be displayed.
  • Once the corrections have been implemented in all the assigned systems, the maintenance project can be closed.

The complete maintenance process has been available since December 2006 in SAP Solution Manager 4.0 with Support Package Stack 9. Restricted functions are also available in SAP Solution Manager 3.2 with Support Package Stack 15. Here, the files to be downloaded are selected using the old procedure.

No license costs

The functions of the Maintenance Optimizer are available to all SAP customers, providing the SAP Solution Manager, for which there are no license costs, has been installed.
To carry out maintenance in the Maintenance Optimizer, the SAP systems to which the Support Packages are to be imported must be connected with SAP Solution Manager. The easiest way to do this is by activating the SAP EarlyWatch Alert, a fully automated diagnostics service that monitors the most important administrative areas of the SAP system. In addition, in SAP Solution Manager the connected systems must be assigned to at least one “solution”.
SAP Solution Manager is then connected to the SAP Service Marketplace. An RFC connection is established for this and the S-user whose download basket is to be used to download the corrections is specified. The required Support Package Stack then needs to be imported for the relevant release of SAP Solution Manager.
These preparations have already been carried out to a large extent for customers that already use SAP Solution Manager. All that these customers need to do is import the Support Package Stacks, so that activation of the Maintenance Optimizer is carried out with the minimum of effort. This applies, in particular, to customers with SAP NetWeaver 2004s and applications based on it, for which the Maintenance Optimizer will be compulsory as of April 2007 to download Support Packages and legal changes. In this case, SAP Solution Manager is already used during installation or upgrade.

Complex IT architectures under control

In its present form, the Maintenance Optimizer is the first step on the route to optimized maintenance of SAP solutions. It simplifies execution and ensures traceability. SAP will continue to improve the maintenance process by integrating additional tools. SAP plans an extended connection to Change Request Management in SAP Solution Manager and to SAP NetWeaver’s Software Lifecycle Manager, among other things. The Maintenance Optimizer therefore ensures that software maintenance is still workable even for highly complex IT architectures.

Cay Rademann