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For the SAP blogger/analyst/dude on the ground, there’s nothing more frustrating than a content backlog. I’m hoping to play catch up the next few months and share a few crucial ditties on this blog, but bigger promises have been broken, so one blog at a time. This one is our first installment of the semi-regular “Sol Bros” Solution Manager podcast series. The SolBros came about simply because I wanted to do a podcast on Solution Manager that took an honest look at the pros and cons of this important but controversial SAP product. So I pulled in some of the most frequent tweeters on the topic. The guys got along, so we continued to tape.

Each time, a different person from the group plays “point,” and organizes the podcast and the content. This time it was my turn, which was great because for almost a year now I’ve been hearing analysts hammer Solution Manager for being “a mile wide and an inch deep.” I don’t happen to think that’s the best way to criticism SolMan, but I really wanted to find out what the other “bros” though about this topic.

So I got my chance to ask, and we covered that and quite a bit more in an hourlong session for the real SolMan gearheads – if there is such a thing. And yes, we answered listener questions so that’s incentive for you to post a comment to this blog because we WILL definitely dig into it the next time we tape.

We tape our calls in a variety of formats, usually connected to a WebEx session, and the logistics of the taping usually involve an evening call for Phil/Jim/myself, which is the next morning for Tony. In this case, it was Friday night on the east coast and Saturday morning for Tony, so there’s a Friday night party theme on this one – as much as talking about SolMan on a Friday night can be called a party.

Here’s the basics:

The “Sol Bros” are: Jim Spath, Tony de Thomasis, Phil Avelar and Jon Reed
Previous “Sol Bros” podcasts: Episode 1, Episode 2 , Episode 3, Solution Manager chatter – SolBros Episode 4.

Music: For this Friday night taping (except for Tony who was already on Saturday morning), I selected a live Friday night jam: “Runnin” from Massachusetts’ own Longview Gunslingers.

Podcast links: SAP Press SolMan System Monitoring, Solution Manager Service Desk – Change Management Integration by Tammy Powlas, SAUG Summit 2011, SAP Service Marketplace SolMan Info (log-in required), ASUG Annual Conference (Orlando)

Podcast Structure: I. Intro chatter, II. (2:40) SolBros reader questions, III. (21:55) SolMan – “A mile wide and an inch deep?” – discuss! IV. (36:05) Individual updates: Jim Spath – SolMan and ASUG, Phil Avelar – CHARM lessons learned, Tony D – SolMan consulting, customer value and learning tools.

(If for any reason the player doesn’t work, you can download the podcast using the “download media” link on the right hand side).

 

(Trouble downloading? if for some reason it’s not playing in its entirety for you, check out the version on JonERP.com in the meantime.

Usually when I post a podcast on SCN, I include a summary version of the detailed notes I post on JonERP.com. In this case, I’m going to do something different, so you can go to my site if you want to skim the detailed SolMan 5 show notes

However, since we had two reader questions from SCN, here’s that section’s notes in its entirety:

Part II. (2:40) Reader Questions

Question #1: From Arundeep Singh

“Hi Tony and other SolBros,

Thanks for reflection on agent and plug-in maintenance. If would eagerly accept the eating habits as a trade-off to clone Tony 🙂

I have read about Landscape verification. It is a new and seems good tool. But this is to find and correct the wrong configuration. My question was on a regular maintenance to keep it up-to-date. It becomes a big effort and especially with Wily agents the application systems needs restart and it is not easy to get agreement for downtime for multiple systems. And with unavailability of non-cloned Tony, it becomes even more challenging :). Just as an example a team took about a year to configure agents for MDM system and it is still not generating EWA. Imagine when the whole infrastructure calls for maintenance!!! Anyhow, my belief is that without good people no strategy/tools/processes can work.”

Tony: Every company should have a release strategy that they should agree on – breaking a year into quarters to apply maintenance across a landscape and minimize disruption. Being pro-active tends to work better than waiting till an OSS note problem hits you.

Jim: I see this question as similar to questions of the timing of patching core systems like routers or network switches. Any kind of control system that you depend on for the rest of your environment, you have to approach very gingerly, and patch it off cycle from the rest of your landscape.

Phil: When it comes to the production box, a quarterly schedule for Solution Manager updates would be ideal, but I find most companies aren’t able to make that happen and a yearly update schedule might be more realistic for them.

(Discussion of pros and cons of Solution Manager patch scheduling versus other landscape management priorities).

Tony: Patching Solution Manager is never done in isolation, so if you patch Solution Manager frequently, you’ll have to patch your satellite systems more frequently as well. A decent testing strategy with proper tools and documentation is essential. Phil: ASUG has valuable content when it comes to planning upgrades and patches and managing release schedules. Jon: “Isn’t the bottom line that support packs are kind of a pain in the *ss? I talk to customers that have trouble getting them in once a year.”

Tony: “If you’re not on top of support packs by now, when are you going to get on top of it? We’ve been used to applying support packs since the R/2 days…Welcome to IT, guys – this is what we live and breath.”

Phil: It’s the testing that’s the challenge – sometimes you don’t have the manpower. I have customers who haven’t applied support packs since they went to ECC.

Jim: getting permission to make patches and changes is non-trivial but it needs to be done…Let’s go on to the next question.

15:15 Reader Question #2 – emailed to Jim Spath (looong question).

Jim: question was inspired by a wiki page I put up to get Central Performance History running which has not been completed yet. The question is almost identical to the snag I ran into where the BI portion of the CPH looks like it was set up, but it isn’t really functional. I thought it was indicative of the complexity and the layering of products like SolMan as they have evolved. Problems can be difficult to resolve with so many layers in the mix. Post it was a a reply on the wiki or the blog so that it isn’t just me trying to solve it. Or, open a ticket with SAP.

Tony: if he’s a BI guy, generally these things can be fixed by running the SolMan setup again. Or looks through the RSA1 logs in SolMan. Search SCN forums. Check the SAP Press books on SolMan also a “TDT approved method.”

Jim: By talking about this I often get questions directed to me – restate them and put them in a public forum so the next person can find it also. Warning: “AskJim.com”, Tony’s suggested site for SolMan questions, doesn’t really exist.

Phil Avelar has the point role for the next SolBros podcast, so Phil, here’s the baton.

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4 Comments

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  1. Tom Cenens
    Hello Jon

    Great content. I’m very much interested in Solution Manager content as I believe it will become the most important product to perform administration tasks.

    Solution Manager does offer a lot of different functionalities and hopefully Solution Manager 7.1 will enhance a lot of currently existing functionality.

    I followed some SAP courses (E2E100 Root Cause Analysis and E2E200 Change Control Management) which I found to be good (in general too slow pace but the content is interesting). The courses handle theory and functional use.

    I really like root cause analysis (diagnostics scenario) but the implementation and maintenance effort is not to be underestimated.

    Recently I checked out and implemented the recommendations from SAP Note 1506939 – Recommendations of Concurrent Mark & Sweep for HPJVM which broke the capturing of garbage collections data. My customer message is being handled by the SAP development team at the moment and they are now developing the interpreter for the garbage collection log to fix the issue.

    To improve the product they would have to make sure the interpreter available before such recommendations are posted. It’s only one  example. I posted some other concerns like zero values that are flagged green in one of my blogs.

    Another issue is the lack of content available on some scenarios or functionalities and a lack of updates of content. If you create a customer message on a certain topic, you might get a serious list back of try this and check this but those items are not found in the troubleshooting guides of that topic, although it seems support has received the same questions multiple times and wrote back the same answers multiple times.

    I’m involved in a roll out of root cause analysis and I can definitely say it’s a lot of work but if implemented correctly it can definitely speed up troubleshooting. I have certainly used it to my benefit solving productive issues.

    I can definitely relate to what is said in the podcast. I’m currently looking at some features that are not generally in use like automatic technical configuration and the solution documentation assistant.

    Kind regards

    Tom

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  2. Jon Reed Post author
    Tom, thanks for the good words and thoughtful comments. We’ll definitely pull some of them into our next taping. I agree on the importance of SolMan going forward – it must be reckoned with and we need as much open and informed discussion on pros, cons, and use cases as possible. We’ll stick with it….

    – Jon

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  3. Tammy Powlas
    Very unexpected and very much appreciated!

    I would like to hear more experiences/stories about implementing SolMan Test Management – something I’ve always wanted to do, but never really tried.  You never hear people talk about that.

    I think it would be great to hear more about the new SolMan release – will it really solve all of our IT helpdesk needs, including non-SAP helpdesk?

    Great podcast, and thank you for taking the time to type up the notes – I found it useful to listen/read at the same time.

    Tammy

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    1. Tom Cenens
      Hello Tammy

      From what I have heard it sounds like SAP is going to try and go the enterprise route again and ask money if you want to really make the helpdesk handle non-SAP content. I have customers who are interested in the IT Helpdesk but who don’t implement it because it is not designed to hold non-SAP content.

      It would be great to have the possibility but I’m afraid they will still be reluctant if they have to pay for it since they are using opensource Linux software now as helpdesk and it’s working fine for them.

      The benifit the IT helpdesk in Solution Manager could bring is close integration into their SAP infrastructure (being able to create tickets from sattelite systems for example).

      From what I have seen in Solution Manager 7.1, a lot of functionality which was in the Solution manager 7.0 Enterprise Edition is being polished up and placed in Solution Manager 7.1.

      I’m also looking at cCTS which much interest but I do think they have some serious workload to combine it with CHARM (and get rid of double functionalities – collections vs transport of copies etc).

      Kind regards

      Tom

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