One hands-on session I attended at SAP TechED 2011 Madrid was job scheduling management in SAP Solution Manager 7.1. In the session SAP CPS was used which features additional functionality based on technology from Redwood.
Before the hands-on started the presenters (multiple) gave an introduction to job scheduling management and the possibilities SAP CPS offers. The example they were using seemed to be pretty complicated because at some stage even the presenter was lost in the actions to be performed and had to get some whispering help from her colleague in order to proceed further.
While it didn’t give the best impression it confirmed my thoughts on what I had been seeing on screen so far. Using the scheduler seems to be very complicated. The UI should match the expectations of the end-users better. One look at the screen in Solution Manager and it screamed out complicated.
Connections all around
I was sitting next to someone who solely works in Solution Manager and of course had big interest in this product. One row in front of me were more Belgian system administrators checking out the tool and one row in front of them was yet another connection I had met at SAP TechED Madrid. Everyone seemed to share a common interest in this product since job scheduling is used in daily operations at customer side. The idea of making a positive impact on job scheduling, whether it is on the level of performance, usability or reporting makes this product interesting enough to look into.
Getting stuck along the way
During the hands-on session the CPS server became unavailable and as a result of that the remaining persons who hadn’t already given up were leaving. Most attendees were already stuck before the CPS server became unavailable. The example to follow seemed to be too complicated or not explained well enough.
Where is the integration?
What I find most interesting about hands-on sessions and expert lounge pods is asking questions. You might wonder why but the answer is simple. The information and presentation they provide don’t always provide an answer the questions that are wandering through my head. What better time to ask those burning questions then when you are in the same location as the experts themselves.
My question was the following: is the job scheduler taking into account Solution Manager downtime management? The answer is: No it’s not. It would make sense that if you schedule a downtime for a certain SAP systems that the background jobs would be put on hold in that particular managed SAP system and be released again after the SAP system has started up again. You could argue about how long up front and so on but that should be adjustable to your flavor in my opinion. Something that I see too often when new SAP products or new features are shown is that they don’t seem to be integrated or taken into account by other products or scenarios.
Solution Manager right?
Moving on to the next pointer which still concerns integration. You can block SM36 in the managed SAP system and redirect the end-user to Solution Manager Service Desk where he can then request a job to be scheduled in for a managed SAP system. According to the hands-on the request is actually an incident ticket which sounds weird because it’s a request for something new. Anyway let’s forget that for a second and focus on something else. Once the job is requested, it has to be approved and once approved the job will run in the managed system.
Now since the end-user just created a job request in Solution Manager and is using Solution Manager as a central repository for all jobs you would expect this job to be visible in Solution Manager for this particular managed SAP system. You could have guessed it already, it’s not the case. Instead you have to run a wizard to import the job into Solution Manager which I find very user unfriendly since it was just created through Solution Manager. That just doesn’t make sense. I wonder why these remarks haven’t been made before. If you want to deliver a product for system administrators you should perhaps invite some over and have them use the product and provide feedback.
Job scheduling health check
The most interesting thing is in fact the job scheduling health check which basically loads data about background jobs from managed system into BI cubes which then becomes available for reporting. That is actually pretty easy to set up and can provide a system administrator with useful information. The only disadvantage I see so far is the fact that the reporting doesn’t provide all the data I would like to see as a system administrator. I already gave feedback on this and I hope they do something with it. Changing the BI queries to achieve that is a workaround but not a good one.
Overall I wasn’t really impressed as you could have guessed already from the content of this blog. While the product could deliver great value and perhaps it will in a later stage, the hands-on session didn’t make a good case for it. What I saw was a lot of room for improvement. What I need are valid arguments to throw out the existing job schedulers at my customers and give them a new job scheduler that is smarter than the job scheduler which they have got in place. I looks like I will have to wait a little longer before that happens.