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Sap Solution Manager--The ERP For IT is Here?


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Customer Point of view on SAP Solution Manager

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  • 1. SAP Solution Manager … Is the ERP for IT finally here? Business IT quot;The next thing is IT ERP. At GM, the complexity of managing IT is an astronomical thingquot; ….Ralph Szygenda, CIO of General Motors Anupam Jaiswal (Contact: )
  • 2. SUMMARY For many years, IT has been driving business divisions to automate their processes using solution tools, enablers, connectors and best practices et al. All this while, the complexity of IT organizations has increased manifold, whereas they have continued to be managed by spreadsheets,esoteric processes, individual brilliance and marked by long, complex upgrades. This has resulted in this critical business function being a high cost overhead, which often delays innovation, rather than accelerating it. SAP’s application management platform called Solution Manager is positioned as the ERP for IT, promising to support the IT processes the same way as R/3 did the business processes. Are we there yet? Anupam Jaiswal (Contact: )
  • 3. EVOLUTION Getting this particular article off the blocks has been a particularly frustrating experience. Its difficult nowadays to talk about any enterprise solution without getting bogged down by usual set of 3 letter acronyms, SOA, ESA, SCM, PLM, ROI…yadda yadda. SAP Solution Manager has been collated from a wide range of functions as Business Process Modeling, Change logistics, testing, Service desk, patch management and Central administration, to name a few. This makes it particularly tough ask to spell out the genre for this solution. Anupam Jaiswal (Contact: )
  • 4. SAP would probably call it a collaboration hub / gateway for SAP Global Support and its partners for customers infrastructure. Customers will identify some of its functions evolving from erstwhile ASAP / ValueSAP for imple mentations / upgrades, service desk features like HP OpenView, CCMS from good old R/3 Basis and Transport Management from CTS.Throw in some newer features like GRC support via security management and Enterprise Support with Solution Manager, it does makes it kind of difficult for hapless customers to figure out how to leverage this tool. Having followed the evolution of Solution Manager for past 5 years or so, I still struggled for last few days to put a simple description for it, till I ran into Ralph’s quote on wikipedia and got on to ERP4IT (I guessthey ran out of TLA’s and have started alphanumeric codes now). Of course, this is a free tool for SAP customers, as well as a mandatory for upgrades / new patches. However, due to fogginessaround purpose and direction of this tool has lead most of the customers to grossly underutilize it (some of them just kept it alive in their landscape for key generation only!). There is a strong belief that utilization of such tools will bring similar scale of efficiencies into IT, as enabled by SAP R/3 for business processes like Finance, Material Management , Production Planning etc. Remember the 1990’s, when businesses were grappling with challenges of globalization, logistics complexity and adapting to changes? At that time, solutions like SAP R/3 provided Anupam Jaiswal (Contact: )
  • 5. centralized, process oriented platform to bring different departments on a single enterprise wide backbone. Anupam Jaiswal (Contact: )
  • 6. IT was often championing this cause to drive efficiencies and over the last few years, IT itself is being confronted with exact same issues in their day to day business operations. Growing complexity of landscapes, multiple software vendors and service support, supply chain headaches brought by ever increasing collaboration needed with business partners while maintaining the higher standards for security and compliance, all of these have resulted in an image of IT department, who are viewed by other business units as high cost, yet unable to adapt in time. Obviously, IT can use some of its own medicine to solve some of the above woes, ie, leverage the tools and automation to support the business units in a predictable, reliable fashion at a reasonable cost / time / quality basis. For customers who have SAP based solution as a big part of their landscape, Solution s Manager (aka SolMan) may be the go to solution to support the business of IT. Anupam Jaiswal (Contact: )
  • 7. FEATURES  Systems / Software inventory: Solution manager provides a central repository to maintain the inventory of infrastructure and software on the infrastructure, with integration with other systems based on CIM model. While the system does a good job of reading / maintaining this index for SAP solutions (ABAP & NetWeaver based), there could be some more provisioning for maintenance of data centers and network layers. Anupam Jaiswal (Contact: )
  • 8.  Implementation / Business Process Reengineer tools: essentially, SAP has “codified” ASAP/ ValueSAP for implementations / upgrades, along with enhancing features on project overview, configuration / documentation etc. it would have been great for implementations, except that SAP maybe a bit Anupam Jaiswal (Contact: )
  • 9. delayed in the game, with most of big ticket customers already on one or other ERP platform. What SAP can help the customers with is a reverse engineer tool, which can analyze the production systems and provide a Solution Manager view of the key business processes (I hear that SAP Business Process Change Analyzer, released in Nov-08 promises some of the features), though I am yet to see it in action. For Post go live support , integration with Service desk feature supports management of new projects / bug fixes via Solution Manager.  Operating the IT landscape: this has been identified by many studies as an area where most of the IT budgets gets spent for SAP customers and is a hotspot for reducing the costs. Push from software vendors comes from a premise that any savings from IT support costs will be invested by the businesses into new license purchase, which obviously makes some of the IT services vendors wary of the solutions. Anyway, the basic theme of operations optimization revolves around centralized, shared services for different solutions / landscapes , across the geographies. Features offered are central monitoring, change management, service desk, software logistics, security (application level) management, incidents management / root cause analysis. Good news is that most of the solutions are taken from the regular R/3 / Basis technology, leading to lesser training or process changes. SAP can look into integrating some of the IT service desk features with budget Anupam Jaiswal (Contact: )
  • 10. management and task scheduling (sounds like integration of xRPM with Solution Manager).  Solution Optimization : different gateways for SAP software / services have ostensibly been merged into this area, along with integration with software logistics. With Maintenance Optimizer being a mandatory access point for getting software updates, customers with SAP centric landscapes will recognize the ease of fining what is relevant for them, rather than search for Anupam Jaiswal (Contact: )
  • 11. what is available from SAP. Upgrade tolls also have been made more usable, though most customers are unable to leverage meat of upgrade offerings unless the initial implementation was managed by Solution Manager itself. Anupam Jaiswal (Contact: )
  • 12.  Add ins : Again, some churn here has left customers looking for direction. SAP TDMS / TAO delivery has been reconfigured while BMC Appsight / CA Wily are part of the Enterprise Edition package. HP Quality Center, Job Scheduling from Redwood and RWD Infopak are beingprovided via adapters. Here is the big picture Anupam Jaiswal (Contact: )
  • 13. Anupam Jaiswal (Contact: )
  • 14. THE ROAD AHEAD As with most of the enterprise solutions, SAP customers do need substantial guidance about the Solution manager features and how is it relevant for their business processes. By making it mandatory for new implementations / upgrades as well as for new software patches, SAP is getting the customers to introduce it in their landscape. The fact that this is free of any license cost helps, but that also leaves lot of customers with little guidance from product vendor about the solution discovery and adoption. This is an area where IT services partners for customers can provide value to their customers, as well as help with the implementations which ultimately optimize the IT cost spend. Anupam Jaiswal (Contact: )
  • 15. While roadmaps for adoption for different customers will differ based on the specific SAP solutions, monitoring and support requirements, some general guidelines for Solution Manager adoption are: 1. It is a mandatory solution: So plan for at least a basic install. <See the solution manager install guide>. 2. Get the technical team familiar with the maintenance optimizer: Besides being mandatory, some of the service features do provide better management of day to day support tasks 3. ROI based evolution, rather than a big bang : Consider the lowest hanging fruits for initial steps, which provides fastest path for cost savings. There are multiple options available a. Consider transitioning to Solution Manager CCMS rather than individual solution based CCMS b. Centralized security management will also provide lower security / roles tasks, as well as improved compliance with GRC / SOX audits. c. Consider ChaRM / Service Desk features, especially if this is being managed via emails / worksheets in your environment. Anupam Jaiswal (Contact: )