At this year’s TechEd in Phoenix we used the term “Application Life-Cycle Management” (ALM for short) for the first time to structure the track content around Solution Manager, ITIL compliant ALM processes, SAP NetWeaver’s Lifecycle and infrastructure capabilities etc. The sessions were well received. At all TechEd locations ALM sessions scored above average. Given the fact that ALM was the largest track in terms of session hours (Business Intelligence was of the same size to be precise here) a quite remarkable result. But it’s not my intent to play the role of an ALM marketing guy here. I think it simply shows the importance of the ALM topics to run and manage SAP solutions successfully without ignoring the political implications that have been discussed in the press around Enterprise Support.
Coming back from TechEd we immediately felt the need to work on a proper ALM presence on SDN. You can watch it live here: http://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/sdn/alm
So far, rich content on ALM was present on SAP’s service marketplace (Alias /alm) but without a valid s-userid there is no way to get in there. LM capabilities are present on SDN under the NetWeaver umbrella but as you can imagine the focus is oriented towards SAP NetWeaver as a foundation and integration platform. In the consequence the LM pages are centered around features such as CTS+, local monitoring capabilities, SAP CPS (central process scheduling) meaning the built in capabilities that are integral part of the NetWeaver stack. But what is missing is the comprehensive offering that both explains the central management platform of the solution landscape (SAP Solution Manager for short) and the managed instances that make up the solution landscape (e.g. SAP ERP or CRM instances, SAP NetWeaver instances, SAP Business Objects instances).
For our initial ALM on SDN offering we followed somehow the TechEd structuring to a certain extent but left room to add topics from the business and value add perspective (“Portfolio Overview”, “Getting Started”, “Business Justification”) as well as the more technical beef under “Technical Enablement”. We will likely adapt the structure according to the needs and we really want to make this an interactice endeavour with you. If you drill down to “Technical Enablement” you will see ALM topics have been arranged following the ITIL lifecycle (i.e. the famous Requirements -> Design -> Build -> Test -> Deploy -> Operate -> Optimize circle). The ITIL life-cycle serves as a compass that shows you which are the predominant phases relevant for your ALM processes.
Many of these processes span multiple phases and therefore you cannot simply model them in a purely hierarchical fashion. Our appraoch was to start with a bunch of pages that describe the phases in detail and point to further resources such as the most prominent processes belonging to the phases. I expect a lively discussion in the community about the ALM processes from multiple different angles. Over time we might face the need to raise them to the top level (which is already the case in Service Marketplace) and maybe also use them as the corner stones for our event messaging and structuring (e.g. TechEd, Tech Tour etc).
Looking at roles we try hard to address the requirements of the different folks at the front. Admins and IT people should find helpful informations under Technical Enablement while business architects and project experts more likely explore the business part of the new ALM area on SDN. All sections are tightly connected with each other thanks to the adoption of the ITIL terminology making sure that we all speak the same language here.
Now, it is up to you to challenge us, and provide feedback. ALM on SDN is intended as a rather dynamic undertaking. Take the opportunity to start the discussion with your peers on topics such as Innovation Management, Technical Operations, Deployment with the enhanced CTS+ and Quality Gate Mgmt to name a few real hot topics from what we monitored at TechEd worldwide.