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Setting yourself up for ALM success.

Over the past 6 weeks, I have published one weblog per week outlining how we have deployed real world Solution Manager functionality at Australia Post. After re-reading them, I thought it might be time to write a prequel to the ALM Teaser series – explaining the planning we undertook before the new ALM functionality was deployed. In typical Spielberg fashion, if I was to go back in time, what advice would I give myself for a better Solution Manager deployment. So strap yourself into the DeLorean, because where we’re going, we don’t need roads…

ALManac tip # 1 – Ensure you have seed funding.

Innovation and improved processes don’t just evolve in your spare time. Ensure you have a decent budget to begin the ALM journey, and use it wisely. It helps to have intelligent management who understand and encourage initiatives to drive innovation. Remember to demonstrate cost savings as you go along and successfully unlock ALM functionality. Without funding, you will never save the Clock Tower.

ALManac tip # 2 – Install on proper hardware.

Ensure you get enough budget to install your SolMan on some scalable hardware. SolMan 7 is a dual stack instance, with heavy BW usage. Install the SolMan Production system on the same hardware you would install a Production BW or PI instance. Make sure it’s scalable hardware (PowerVM is my personal preference) with virtualisation capabilities. Never consider less than 2cpu, 16gb RAM, and have at least 250gb diskspace for a landscape of around 80 instances. Read the sizing guide closely and accept the recommendations. Don’t be tempted to install other things on the SolMan box. Wily Introscope will NOT run well on the same server as SolMan, and you will draw more than 1.21 Gigawatts of power. 

ALManac tip #3 – Get your best Basis person on the job.

Any new functionality requires experience, dedication and perseverance to master. A junior Basis person will never get the DeLorean to hit 88mph. Your best Basis person will ensure fastest payback, a good transition to support and help skill up the remaining Basis support staff. Get your “Top Gun” Basis person to unlock functionality for one satellite system and document it properly. This document can then be followed by the Junior Basis staff for subsequent satellite systems. Otherwise, hire a Junior Basis person, then in 10 years time, send him back in time to help the current Junior Basis person – Great Scott!

ALManac tip #4 – Use the SAP Service Market Place .

Some SolMan services which accelerate deployment include:-

Expert Guided Implementation. This service provides remote training and guidance for how to deploy functionality on your own SolMan. Check the calendar for some free sessions in your timezone.

Expert Guided Implementation

 

– SAP Solution Manager Starter Pack. Provides on-site skilled SAP resources to work with key members of your staff to configure the SAP Solution Manager system. A chargeable service, but well worth it.

Solution Manager Starter Pack

 

SAP Solution Manager Preparation Service. A remote service to verify the basic configuration of the SAP Solution Manager settings. Normally 2 systems are defined to SolMan and configured according to recommended administrative settings. This service is generally included free in your Maintenance Agreement. 

Solution Manager Preparation Service

 

SAP Solution Manager Ramp-up Knowledge Transfer. Do a stack of online training free of charge.

SAP Solution Manager RKT
 

ALManac tip #5 – Keep your maintenance up.

With every support pack on SolMan, the wizards get better and the new functionality shines through. The difference between SolMan 7.0 and 7.01 is enormous. I am amazed with how much additional functionality is activated after applying a SolMan Support Pack Stack. Running on low maintenance levels for SolMan is like comparing the clunky Plutonium approach for generating power, to the more efficient Mr. Fusion approach.

ALManac tip #6 – Have an SAP approved SLD strategy.

Unless you have an up to date SLD which is shared with SolMan, you will be forever updating SMSY definitions and cursing when your DBACOCKPIT and RCA stop functioning. Without an SAP approved SLD strategy, you have little chance of hitting that wire with the connecting hook at precisely eighty-eight miles per hour the instant lightning strikes the tower.    

ALManac tip #7 – Ensure you have 2 Solution Manager systems.

The patching of SolMan can sometimes be very disruptive due to mistakes, misleading documentation and missing OSS notes. You will make mistakes, and learn lots from the experience. The best bet is to learn on a non critical SolMan system and avoid depleting the Uranium of the Production DeLorean.

ALManac tip #8 – Deploy functionality incrementally.

Take the easy features first and bed them down. Show the management staff how much money and head count you are saving them. Once you get buy in from the person with a budget, then you can start to innovate and really make a difference to the bottom line of the Support budget by preparing for the future.

ALManac tip #9 – High Availability.

Easy to do before installation, nearly impossible to do when you have a mission critical SolMan loaded with every Agent known to SDN. You will come to depend on RCA tools, Wily Introscope, BMC AppSight etc. We opted for no high availability based on cost – a decision we will probably regret. If you are not prepared for that hardware or Data Centre failure, Darth Vader from planet Vulcan will melt your brain.

ALManac tip #10 – Community.

Ensure you ask questions in the Forums, read the great Weblogs and Articles on SDN. Log into the ASUG website and attend some fine webinars. Most forward thinking companies will sponsor one or two TechEd attendees – this is the best venue learn from ALM thought leaders from all over the world. It helps considerably if your management recognise that your community participation improves your knowledge, which in turn drives innovation back into the workplace. So go ahead, raise the bar on yourself and share your knowledge on SDN – who knows, you may cause a ripple in the space-time continuum.

Time circuits on, Flux Capacitor fluxing, engine running… All right! 

 

I hope my 10 ALManac tips are not too heavy, because weight has nothing to do with it… Just remember, you will have resistance against the new ALM features until you can demonstrate cost savings and return on effort. Today’s Management may not be ready for it initially, but the upcoming ALM kids are gonna love it.

 

Many thanks to my awesome road crew for the proof reading and advice. 

 

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