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26/09/2013:

<update>please note that this is an outdated blog post – you can expect an updated perspective soon. I’ve formatted this blog post since I noticed the formatting was messed up due to the SCN migration</update>

Introduction

A few weeks ago we installed a Solution Manager 7.1 to be used for internal training and setting up demo’s. In this blog series I provide some thoughts on Solution Manager 7.1. You can expect more content from me on #solman as time progresses. Let’s take a look what the devil on my left shoulder has to say about it.

Product naming confusion

My blog which the highest number of views of all my blogs is the blog on SAP product naming confusion and for good reasons. SAP seems to love making product names and versions complicated somehow.

What are you talking about? Solution Manager 7.1 sounds simple enough no? If you look at past products you would automatically derive it’s build on top of a SAP Netweaver 7.1 platform (referencing  SAP Netweaver PI 7.1 for example).

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You guessed it by now I guess. SAP did it again. Solution Manager 7.1 is running on top of a SAP Netweaver 7.0 EHP2 platform. This means SAPJVM is nowhere to be found when initially installing Solution Manager which is a pity. I would recommend you to switch to SAPJVM 4.1 immediately after performing the installation of Solution Manager 7.1 since Platform JDK will be out of support in August 2012 and depending on the platform possibly even sooner.

Should SAP have chosen another name? Perhaps but I understand where the Solution Manager 7.1 is coming from instead of using Solution Manager 7.0 EHP2 although the later would have been more logical from a technology point of view. SAP worked on Solution Manager 7.1 during three years is the rumor that is whispered in the hall ways. That’s a long time! I don’t even know if that can be seen as a good thing.  It would be a  good thing if everything would have been über tight and the whole thing blows everyone away.

Of course they wanted to make a statement through the name that they release an all new and fresh Solution Manager. The question then becomes, did they in fact release a brand new and fresh Solution Manager with Solution Manager 7.1 or a polished up Solution Manager 7.0?

LMDB (Landscape Management Database)

I had the opportunity to play around a bit on a Solution Manager 7.1 Beta installation (before Ramp-up). One of the things that surprised me most was the fact that SAP put LMDB in place. I understand the logic or the reason why LMDB is put in place but I don’t really believe it’s the best solution there is.

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I already tweeted it back then that we now have three repositories to keep system data. Those three repositories are the SLD, SMSY and LMDB. But LMDB synchronizes with the SLD and auto updated your SMSY data. While that sounds awesome I find it is making something complicated even more complicated. Yes LMDB does solve a number of issues that existed before. The  periodic checking and updating of landscape data is positive and useful but still it looks more like a band-aid on a wound instead of a fix.

Errors like “Technical system not properly defined” while the Landscape verification tool which checks the system data was showing a green light are annoying. It stops there, no additional information, no system log message, no application log message to go by.

Those kinds of errors or warnings  are annoying. Why? Because you can’t find anything to help you in that situation. It’s like your car stops and shows a red icon on the dashboard. You look up the icon in the car manual but it’s simply not there. That’s the moment when you are forced to call the car dealer and explain him that they need to rework either the car or add something to the manual of the car.

My opinion is still the same, LMDB is adding another layer of possible complications to the already fable SLD and SMSY. I already encountered a situation where I had to go and poke around in both SMSY and LMDB to get the system defined properly. Message to all #sapadmin’s out there start learning LMDB but don’t throw away know-how on SMSY and SLD because you might still need it in some occasions. 

DSWP / SOLUTION_MANAGER disappeared

Those who have already used Solution Manager 7.1 will have noticed you can no longer access your Earlywatch Alerts (amongst other things) through transaction DSWP.

Not all bad here because SAP did an effort to provide sufficient documentation on which item of DSWP ended up in which work center and so on. You can find the relevant documentation on https://service.sap.com/rkt-solman.

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The fact that DSWP is integrated into the work centers is not a bad thing, don’t get me wrong. What feels unfinished, unpolished and a bit weird is that you end up on the same old DSWP screens in the end when you find the right spot in the work center.  I would have liked to see a overhaul of the screens and some evidence of brand-new instead.

Conclusion

Several points show to me that Solution Manager 7.1 isn’t all brand new and redesigned. Some parts are new and some other parts are old and still have the same “dull” feeling to them.

Another weird thing is that all the nifty new features that get introduced are not yet integrated. You can add the dashboard by going here and inserting X and doing Y and I’m like why isn’t this integrated.

Or you have a new feature that has its own proper transaction and SAP then states yes it looks just like a work center but it isn’t. But rest assure we will fix that later on. That makes sense right. I do understand they want to ship new content and that’s a good thing but it would be even better if they could figure out a way to have a more direct implementation into the work centers.

Before you decide not to upgrade or install Solution Manager 7.1 you should read the accompanying blog “Impression of Solution Manager 7.1 by the angel” to see which pointers are good.

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11 Comments

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  1. Nicholas Chang
    Nice blog Tom. Totally agree by introducing LMDB complicate SLD maintenance. Moreover, some functionality in solman can still depending on SMSY which bring confusions.

    Cheers,
    Nicholas Chang

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    1. Tom Cenens Post author
      Hello Nicholas

      Yes indeed. For some yellow or red lights in the landscape verification you still need to adjust something in SMSY which is a bad choice in my opinion.

      I also already saw a note that you have to maintain CIM content in the SLD manually to get rid of some errorneous situations in SMSY/LMDB in Solution Manager 7.1.

      Kind regards

      Tom

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  2. Tim Stadler

    I absolutely hate LMDB. SAP took something that worked and now it’s problematic at best. I’ll admit I have trouble with LMDB but that’s likely due to limited training materials and a process flow that really makes no sense. For example, SMSY in display mode works fine. However, as soon as you switch to change mode, it launches you into the LMDB. Setting up a Java only system is also proving difficult for me. Hopefully a support pack will be delivered to fix all of the migration or conversion type functionality and turn it back into something that is solid and simply works. It should not take weeks to configure a new system in Solution Manager. I really just cannot make the leap to understand this new LMDB tool. However I feel I fully understood the old tool and never had a hint of trouble with the old tool. I’d really like to talk to the programmers that built this thing to simply ask Why??

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    1. Tom Cenens Post author

      Hi Tim

      I have talked to the product management and the programmers for LMDB. The reason why LMDB has been created is due to limitations in SMSY which would cause problems to integrate new SAP products.

      Many if not most BC teams are struggling with LMDB. One of the reasons is indeed that they didn’t go through specific training although I’m not sure specific training really exists … There is information out there but in my opinion, too much. An admin expects to be able to work with the tool without having to spend a lot of time on it.

      I surely understand your comment & sentiment.

      I hope things will change for the better. I’m trying to influence SAP in this area and I hope to see things change over time.

      Best regards

      Tom

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  3. Miguel Angel Arino Clarke

    I think most of these observations are spot on…

    I think that some of the features in LMDB are a huge improvement for my area (I support Maintenance Optimizer …), but in the first Support Packages the interface was a bit confusing. Now it’s getting better.

    I also agree that the naming of SAP products is getting a bit confusing. When I have to explain on the phone that the Netweaver standard release for EHP6 for ERP 6.0 is Netweaver 7.03, which has 7.31 in ABAP and 7.02 in Java, although you can get alternative Netweaver versions in the Java… well, i can feel the eyes of the person I am talking to rolling 🙂

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    1. Tom Cenens Post author

      Hi Miguel

      Thanks for the comment.

      LMDB is indeed getting better and over time it will surely improve. I’ve been providing feedback to SAP on LMDB and related topics and they have been very open to my feedback for which I’m grateful.

      Best regards

      Tom

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  4. Lluis Salvador Suarez

    Agree 99,9 % Tom, 😉

    The key is that Quote, all us wait to a 7.1 new software and redesigned but only get a 701 improvement with older external addons that was complimentary (like LV) that now are included o 7.1.

    Several points show to me that Solution Manager 7.1 isn’t all brand new and redesigned. Some parts are new and some other parts are old and still have the same “dull” feeling to them

    We don’t get a new interface on 7.1 ( i don’t think that we can’t considered ITSM as a new interface, because is only a crm addon moved to solution manager from crm ), but we have a huge improvement on solman 701 tools, and best integrated together.

    That 0,1 % that i’m not agree with you is about DSWP is still live, and sure that will be on SP10, transaction are locked with “SAP Hhardcode”  (check last quote), but is stil open when tou open it from some workcenter links like solman_directory.

    Report:  RDSMOP_MAIN  ( try to run it from se38 )

    *——————————————————————–*
    * Shutdown of transactions DSWP, SOLUTION_MANAGER, DSMOP –>
    *  if sy-tcode = ‘DSWP’
    *  or sy-tcode = ‘SOLUTION_MANAGER’
    *  or sy-tcode = ‘DSMOP’.
       if sytcode ne ‘SEU_INT’
         and sytcode ne ‘SE38’
         and sytcode ne ‘SAT’
         and sytcode ne ‘SE30’.
         if  p_sol_id is not initial
         and p_asp_id is not initial
         and p_hi_na  is not initial.
    *     … submit for specific solution/aspect w/o navigation
    *         -> still allowed
         else.
    *     … call not allowed
           call function ‘POPUP_DISPLAY_TEXT’
             exporting
               popup_title = sytitle
               text_object = ‘DSWP_DEACTIVATION_EN’
             exceptions
               others      = 0.
           return.
         endif.
       endif. “sy-tcode NE ‘SEU_INT’
    * Shutdown of transactions DSWP, SOLUTION_MANAGER, DSMOP <–
    *——————————————————————–*

    Whatever, the transaction from 701 to 71 was really hard, especially Service desk to IM when ITSM change has more impact, but every day that i work on 7.1 i think that the job is well done.

    Great post Tom ¡

    Jumping now to the angel.

    Regards,

    Luis

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    1. Tom Cenens Post author

      Hi Luis

      Thx for the comment.

      It’s good that you have that 0,1% 😉 .

      Live is maybe a big word, I can agree on that. I meant the old end-user experience is still there which curses with the new end-user experience.

      I definitely agree that 7.1 is a huge improvement compared to 7.0. More thought to come in a new blog post on how far has SAP progressed with SAP Solution Manager soon ~can be expected around the 14th of October.

      Best regards

      Tom

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      1. Yves KERVADEC

        Hi Tom,

        I’m also focused on that date.

        I’ve got few system to reinstall and I’m waiting for that last SP that will turn Solman from “almost-devil” to “perfect angel”

        So there will not be any SP9… as far I remember it is not common for SAP to bump number in release sequence… I’m sure it the sign of a perfectly stable product 😘

        Regards

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  5. Matt Fraser

    Coming late to this blog posting, sort of by accident, but Tom, you express the frustration many of us still feel.  I am finally starting to get the hang of LMDB, but I agree the triple-repository system is ridiculously complex and prone to errors.  That said, it seems to be less prone to error and there’s more guidance to fixing errors than was the case with SolMan 7.01, so overall 7.1 seems like an improvement.  But, it’s an improvement that still falls far short of where a non-line-of-business system that I continually struggle to justify to my management should be.  I spend inordinate amounts of time cleaning up system data, again and again, in Solution Manager, just so I can get started on my real job of maintaining and upgrading our core business systems.  I cringe every time my manager asks what I’m working on and I say, in a quiet voice, “Solution Manager,” because, let’s face it, it doesn’t provide any real business value for smaller sites and teams like us.  It’s purely a technical landscape management tool for us, and thus invisible to our end-users and management, except as a time sink that I oddly spend much of my effort on.  It should be effortless and require very little time.

    I’m in the middle now of going from sps8 to sps10, and on sps8 I still cannot get any of my Java systems to play nice with the “managed systems configuration” tool.  This tool, which is much improved in 7.1 with the wizard interface, works fine for ABAP systems, but is a nightmare for Java systems.  After how many upgrades and support packs, and how many years of being around as a product, SolMan still can’t talk to Java systems without errors?

    Anyway, keep it up, I enjoy following your various posts.  Now I’ll have to go hunt down that “angel” post you promised would follow this one.  🙂

    –Matt

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    1. Tom Cenens Post author

      Hi Matt

      Since I wrote this and some other blog posts I’ve connected to the team behind LMDB (and landscape management more general) at SAP and we’ve been discussing multiple pointers, I visited them a couple of times, I helped out in the SAP TechED hands on in Amsterdam and they are very coöperative, willing to listen and they are continuously working on improving the product.

      With SP10 there is already a good step forward which doesn’t mean we are they yet but in terms of LMDB things have been improved significantly already.

      For example the automatic managed SAP system adjustment is very welcome and avoids the need to change the product instance after updating for example ERP 6 EHP5 to ERP 6 EHP6. With SP10, it will automatically adjust 🙂 .

      Looking at the managed system setup there is still plenty of room for improvement ~the Java restarts are still existing and they are bugging me and others. Some improvements have been made, the delivery of authorization for RFC users through the ST component is one of them.

      The gray EWA’s cause gray hairs among many administrators that are now forced to create art ~colour to make the customer happy again because yellow or red (forget green for large productive instances) is prettier than gray.

      Yesterday, I found out the EWA generator reads the old SMSY tables which causes an issue at my  customer since the SMSY table contained a Portal associated with the ERP system. The portal no longer exists but the EWA was the under the impression it was “relevant” and flagged the EWA gray ~a java instance was detected and no data was found … So I spent time tracing the SQL statements upon generation, cleaned up three tables (not all entries, some specific entries) and voila it turned yellow. So I can definitely understand the frustration that arrives from time to time.

      On the other side, I do believe SAP Solution Manager can bring added value and many issues can be overcome but you need to be able to spent time on Solution Manager to get everything right. The added value that can be generated often comes from more functional use of SAP Solution Manager ~incident management, change request management, business process documentation, test managent etc. Of course to make those work properly, the technical & functional base need to be defined properly 😉 .

      Setting the right processes in place to keep it that way as much as possible is recommended. Some rework cannot be avoided when you patch Solution Manager for example the post processing can be time consuming.

      Overall, the different scenario’s are continuously improving so I’m still enjoying working in Solution Manager which has become my main consulting role now. I try to connect to as many SAP Solution Manager teams as I can while implementing scenario’s at customer side in order to provide feedback to SAP which hopefully leads to more improvements in the future.

      Best regards

      Tom

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