Solution Manager System Recommendations feature review
<disclaimer: this blog post got lost on SCN migration and is now restored back to the right space. Features of system recommendations have been improved in the meantime, however, the blog post content is still valid / sentiment is still correct – update 02-2013>
s you might have noticed I have put some time in \ creating a banner for this blog. This is part of my new plan to deliver better quality blogs.
Finding the right information is often considered to be challenging. That’s why I have decided to add a small chapter “Information sources” at the end of each new blog where you can find relevant information on the topic which is discussed in the blog post.
Solution Manager system recommendations
SAP has improved the functionality that lists the recommended SAP notes for a given managed SAP system in one of the more recent SPS versions of Solution Manager 7.0. Functionality which you can also find in Solution Manager 7.1 of course.
The Solution Manager system recommendations provides a list of applicable SAP notes for a technical SAP system of choice and divides the notes into several categories making it easier to identify which SAP notes should be applied to which technical SAP system and why.
I labeled this blog as a feature review as I have used the system recommendations functionality and would like to provide feedback to the community and SAP. At the same time it’s a good opportunity to fuel a few ideas on SAP ideaplace.
Comparison to the previous tools
The previous tools which were available to list SAP notes for a given technical SAP system didn’t really catch a large audience. The list of SAP notes that could be fetched was way too large and contained too many irrelevant SAP notes.
The same can be said about security related SAP notes. The functionality (RSECNOTE) which was introduced to list security notes provided a list of all SAP notes which could be applied without taking into account what was really relevant for the technical SAP system in question.
I’m glad to see that the system recommendations functionality is build up in a more logical way.
The SAP notes which are found for a given technical SAP system are categorized in different categories.That is done by the different tabs which are available which you can see in picture 1.0. There is a good number of categories and the categories are well defined.
The tool provides quick and interesting results. By having the different categories in place you can quickly pinpoint SAP notes which you want to have implemented for the Technical System in question.
Using the System Recommendations functionality
In April 2011 a blog called “System Recommendations: Get an automatically calculated recommendation which SAP notes to apply on a system” was posted by Benjamin Schneider of SAP. In that blog he explains where you can find the tool and how you can use it. Because of the existence of that blog I’m not going to do the same again. There is also additional information available in the comments of that blog and on the SCN wiki. You can find the links in the last chapter “Information Sources” of this blog.
In this blog I will zoom in on a few pointers and provide some thoughts and feedback on those.
You can see the system selection screen in picture 1.1. Note that I made the <SID> of the SAP system disappear because the screenshot was captured on the Solution Manager of one of my customers.
System recommendations works with the well known Solutions within Solution Manager and underneath you can choose the Product System and one level below that you have to choose the Technical System.
This means that the recommendations for ABAP and Java are split up. At first I thought a third option would be a good idea but after using the tool for a bit I actually found it was useful to seperate the ABAP notes from the Java notes and not mingle all of them into a single list.
You can filter even more by selection certain application components from the dropdown box in the upper right.That can be useful if you encounter issues in a specific component and want to quickly find relevant notes for that component.
There is also a date selection present to narrow down the result as you can see in picture 1.2.. By default this is set to one month before the current date. I did find that a bit strange as that could mean you miss out on slightly older notes that have not been applied to a technical system.
We have customers that are reluctant to doing support package stacks frequently and who are still running on slightly older software versions than what most other customers are running on. Of course you can adjust the date so it isn’t a problem either.
Changing the date is something you should not forget to do. If you forget you risk to miss out on notes that are still applicable but which have been released or updated more than one month ago. A default date that is set further back in the past would be a good idea.
There is also the possibility to schedule a background job that will periodically refresh the applicable SAP notes list for your technical systems of choice. You can call the scheduling wizard by clicking the settings button in the right upper corner of the System Recommendations tool.
In the second step of the scheduling wizard you have to select the technical SAP systems which you would like to add to the automatic check background job. The selection is based on Technical Systems and you first have to select a Solution as you can see in picture 1.3.
This can take some time if you have a customer with a lot of SAP systems and the customer has seperate solutions in place per system landscape or project.
A workaround could be creating a seperate Solution per system type. For example one Solution that includes all development SAP systems. I would have preferred to see another option available really, something that sais “select all technical systems” as I seem to prefer to have the system recommendations for all Technical Systems refreshed automatically periodically.
A search option would still be useful I think as the list of recommended notes to implement on the tab Correction Notes tends to be rather large. The posibility to search would dismiss the need to go to SAP Service Marketplace instead which would be great since you can then continue working inside SAP Solution Manager.
You can see a photoshopped example of where the search term field could be introduced in picture 1.4.
If you like this idea you can vote on it on SAP Ideaplace.
Correction SPS Indicator
Another idea is to have an additional field in the results of the notes result list which indicates if the SAP note corrections is available for the SPS your technical SAP system is currently running on or if the implementation would require you to update the technical SAP system to a higher SPS level.
You can see an photoshopped example of where the Correction SPS field could be introduced in picture 1.5.
It’s not because I show a photoshop example of how it could look that it has to look this way but it would be useful to have some kind of indicator and know which notes have corrections that are applicable for the SPS version of the technical SAP system.
I’m currently working through a Go Live check for a Netweaver 7.3 SAP system and the system recommendations proof to be useful but in order to provide recommendations I have to open up each note seperately and compare the correction component versions with the technical system components versions. This is a time consuming process to go through. One additional indicator could help me to save a lot of time.
If you like this idea you can vote on it on SAP Ideaplace.
You don’t need any training to use this tool which is great. The functionality that is provided is very much welcome.
The small and clever features are as important as the big ones and when they are build up in a way that it’s really easy for the end-user to use and you can quickly get added value out of having this functionality at hand it deserves credit.
It’s not that there is no more improvement possible for the System Recommendations feature. The fact that I have at least two ideas shows that end-users can come up with more functionality that would improve the value for them even further. Overall the System Recommendations feature is well constructed, easy to use and it provides added value.
This feature is one of my favorite features within Solution Manager at this moment. If you haven’t checked it out yet you should.