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Sometimes on SDN it is fun to discuss with fellow members our wish list for SAP improvements. After a number of years of working with Solution Manager, and countless Solution Manager upgrades, things have definitely gotten better. However, things have also gotten more complicated.

On-Demand solutions are one of the most exciting trends in IT. There are some clear benefits for on-demand such as quick deployment, no capital expenses and reduced operational responsibilities.

SAP has finally started to catch on to this trend by offering a handful of products on-demand for the large enterprise (I’m not including SMB products like ByDesign):

  • Sourcing
  • Business Objects BI
  • Sales
  • Carbon Impact
  • Travel (coming soon)
  • Career (coming soon)
In my discussions with large enterprises, there has been a consensus to continue investing in on-premise systems, but to consider on-demand for applications that are not critical, not heavily integrated with other systems, and that do not contain sensitive data. That sounds like Solution Manager to me.

Solution Manager 7.1

My clients have always had mixed reactions to Solution Manager. Primarily that they are forced to use it. While the business case for the functionality is fundamentally positive, it comes at a high cost. SAP is expensive and complicated to install, configure, and maintain. When customers want to upgrade ECC, first they have to upgrade Solution Manager. When they want to apply a simple patch, first they have to approve this request through Solution Manager. It slows everything down.

Now what if Solution Manager were on-demand?

  • Always up-to-date. We would never have to start our ECC upgrade with a SolMan upgrade.
  • Reduced infrastructure. The system takes a lot of resources, though processes very few transactions relative to other systems.
  • Newest content. Sub-components like the SLD could have the newest content, eliminating steps to constantly update.
  • SAP would have access to the system landscape and monitoring components for even simpler troubleshooting.
Also, this component meets the requirements for on-demand for large enterprises:
  • Non-critical to business operations.
  • Minimal interface bandwidth.
  • No sensitive data.
Now, if SAP would combine this with a HANA-based on-demand reporting, I think some customers would really get excited.
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7 Comments

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  1. Jon Friesen
    I completely agree with your assessment of the situation at customer sites.  When we do conventional Solution Manager consulting one particular challenge we find is that the maintenance of the SolMan generally falls on the shoulders of the Basis team, even though much of the application is true functionality based on non-Basis concepts such as CRM transactions, business partners, BI reporting and so on. 

    So the SolMan because a distraction and a burden for the Basis team instead of a boon.  The infrastructure costs of maintaining a proper Solution Manager (including appropriate test satellite landscapes, especially in the ChaRM scenario) are prohibitive.

    We feel so strongly about this that we recently launched a SaaS-like hosted Solution Manager offering as an innovative solution to these challenges, which is very much along the lines of your blog.  I won’t pollute the SDN with a sales pitch but anyone interested in knowing more can check out our website or feel free to contact me.

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    1. Gavin Quinn Post author
      Jon,

      I think that you are right on. The closer we can get to a fully SaaS solution the better. I don’t want to have to worry about patches, or upgrades, or any of that. We have enough to worry about with our other dozen systems with critical business operations.

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  2. Martin English
    Hi Gavin,
      I presented a proof-of-concept of this at this years Australian DemoJam, held as part of the Mastering SAP 2011 earlier this year.  I demonstrated an IDES system being monitored via Solution manager, with Solution manager hosted on a Cloud Infrastructure platform (similar to Amazon Web Services EC2, but hosted in Australia).

    There are two main issues;
    ** modifications to standard code to differentiate between different Customers;
      This ranges from defining the correct S-number per customer for access to service market place (for MOPZ, EWA, etc), to ensuirng that BI reporting is securely delineated by Customer
    ** network traffic;
      Securing network traffic between a Customer site and the Solution manager is relatively easy; I just finished devloping my own VPN appliance when AWS aqnnounced theirs (A casual glance indicates it’s a nicer, tidier implementation than I did, but FIW, both are / were based on Open-VPN).  More importantly is the bandwidth required between the customer site (and to a lesser extent, SAP) and the Solution manager system.

    Whether this a practical idea, I don’t really know.  Certainly a lot of SME implementations (especially the ones with little or no customisation) hate the idea of an entire 2 tier landscape dedicated purely (as they see it) to monitoring. Unfortunately, Bandwidth costs a shedload in Australia when compared to the US, and this would be the killer locally.

    You may find it easier to implement..
    a) in the US where cloud providers, bandwidth, etc are cheaper and / or
    b) for Customers who are planning to go to the cloud with RDS implementations.

    hth

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    1. Gavin Quinn Post author
      Martin, thanks for your feedback. That sounds like a great POC. I don’t doubt that bandwidth may be a challenge. I would assume though with enough smart people working on it, you could filter a lot of the noise out of the monitoring and reduce that by a great magnitude. And maybe the monitoring could be stored locally on each logical system, and the monitoring alerts and system management could be located centrally? There are probably a number of ways to do it. It would probably best for people that are just using Solution Manager for it’s minimal use cases (such as generating an installation key and managing SMSY).
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  3. Frank Stienhans
    Hi Gavin,

    SAP has in this moment a number of Solution Manager systems in the Cloud, to usually validate certain extended scenarios.

    If you are not talking about sharing one solution manager for multiple customers, but creating one solution manager system for each customer, then we are doing this every day.

    As the nature of the Solution Manager requires to have a good network bandwidth to the SAP solutions it manages, we often recommend a co-location scenario. So if you run a SAP solution like SAP Rapid Deployment Solutions CRM in the Cloud, the Solution Manager is also ideally placed there.

    Maybe of interest:
    [http://www.sap.com/corporate-en/press/newsroom/press-releases/press.epx?pressid=15203]

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    1. Martin English
      Frank, Gavin,
        I do see some value in a Solution Manager in the cloud, even when the rest of the landscape is on-premise. The more systems of that Landscape that are in the cloud (hosted in the same datacenter, AWS region, etc as the SolMan), the more value there is.
        However, I see much more value in building one Cloud based Solution Manager system, for multiple customers / landscapes, using the VAR package / enhancement that is available to partners (like my employer :).
        If you’re interested in trialing something like this, feel free to contact me 🙂
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      1. Frank Stienhans
        Hi Martin

        With regards to one Solution Manager – I agree.

        I just did not know, that we had already released that capability. You have been more up to date 🙂

        (That’s the challenge at SAP, you have to keep track of what is already public)

        Best Regards,
        Frank

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