It was one fine evening in office, I saw one gentleman asked a question on career options of a new basis admin guy and drafted few lines from my own experience. Later I found that Otto liked those suggestions and based on his encouragement I’m elaborating few possible key career growth plans of a basis administrator. This may be helpful for the newcomers in basis/netweaver administration area.
Java Stack & New Dimensional products
Learn Java stack admin and new dimensional products like PI, MI, CRM etc administration. Initially you could start with a basic Java stack only system installation, configuration activities and later build product specific skills.
Your first target could be to get familiar with few basic topics like:-
Use of VA & Configtool
JCo RFC creation
Familiarity with basic NWA tasks – running config wizards & troubleshoot basic errors.
Basic UME admin tasks
Use of JSPM, SDM etc
Later you can concentrate more on specific areas like EP configuration with BI, PI post installation configuration or troubleshooting SPROXY connection/message failures of PI, CRM integration issues etc. But then you will be in advanced stage of Java admin and may not need the general guidance.
Like to put Solution Manager in a separate category as it’s a product where skilled resources are still short in supply. For the admin team many major Solution Manager integration assignments are supposed to come in near future. Even the people who have Solman in their landscape are yet to deploy majority of it’s components. Few areas to get initial hands-on knowledge are:-
Early Watch report
System Monitoring etc
Solution Manager offerings are also evolving and many new things are on the block. So it’s a technology here to stay and along with it you can also plan for a growth.
Good understanding on functional topics or client business process always helps. First, the specific product process understanding can enable you to become a top notch specialist admin for those products like BI admin, CRM admin or SCM administration. People with these skills are highly valued professionals across many organizations. Secondly the understanding of core business modules can really help you in the long run to contribute in consulting roles like you could be in a position to provide suggestion on application integration areas or design system landscape, guide solution team on new implementation proposals.
This is a knowledge area which you will cherish forever if you are really interested and keen to make a long term career in SAP. Work closely with functional consultants and try to correlate ‘how things are working’ rather than just troubleshooting an error or tuning an application performance.
OS & Database
The more diverse your kitty is in this area the more demand you can expect in long term. I agree that it’s vast area and there are veteran Unix/Wintel/DB guys to support you but a good grasp on DB/OS or network can always put you a stand apart from the lot. You will feel a sense of satisfaction when based on your diverse platform experience you sense a problem and ultimately solve it. Remember being an application admin you are sitting on the upper layer of the pyramid and have the virtue of over viewing underlying DB or OS performance. Specific infrastructure teams may not have that same visibility.
Initially try to gather basic understanding of key operating systems like major flavors of UNIX, Windows OS, databases like Oracle, MaxDB, SQL Server or DB2 UDB. Your starting point could be :-
Understanding architectural difference among multiple DB
Memory, buffer area, logging in different databases
Reorg,update statistics, indexes,backup/restore etc.
Understanding SAP specific file systems, FS extend/addition, permission issues etc.
In the next level your target should be to become an expert in one or two specific product and contribute in performance tuning areas.
Security & authorization
Security is going to get more and more importance in coming years. Just think about the basic IT security mechanism couple of years back and now how much it has progressed. In the next few years more money & focus is expected from all major organizations in this area. Keep yourself updated on GRC, SAP Identity management etc topics. Advance step could be integration experience with third party access management tools or diverse LDAP/directory servers, working in security implementation/upgrade projects.
A basis administrator has to assume many roles during his career from support to implementation to upgrade/enhancement areas. But the more you work in large implementation or complex integration projects the better knowledge you will gather in the long run.
Hands-on installation or SAP version/Enhancement pack upgrade etc skills also can open a specialization path for you.
The above mentioned stack areas can provide few basic career growth plans in basis administration field. But after couple of years, where you want to see yourself career wise that largely depends on many factors like your organizations/customers requirement, your current responsibilities etc. You could either become a basis ‘general’ or leader of capable team or become a subject matter expert of one or two product administration areas. A more satisfying role could be a technical solution architect or an expert in performance tuning area but again it’s entirely your own call.