SAP Sybase Ghostbusters: Life of ASE “Product Support Engineer”
Some may wonder what a SAP Sybase ASE PSE(Product Support Engineer) does? Is it a really a nine to half-past five desk job with lots of coffee drinking?
I must admit we do consume lots of coffee for this job but not nine to half-past five part.
To me, PSE role is similar to Ghostbusters and some customers’ errors are like ghosts, haunting their system at weird times, definitely ignoring the time of nine to half-past five. If you are in my generation, you probably recognize the movie Ghostbusters. Many PSEs will agree with me that it will be nice if we have a switch that can turn off our minds at half-past five.
As our title suggests, we are product experts who support SAP Sybase frontline warriors TSE (Technical Support Engineers) behind the scene. One PSE, Takeshi Kurokawa vaguely remembers a long time ago (at least Sybase Japan in 1995), there were no people called PSE in customer support groups. TSEs were allowed to open bugs but resulted in messy situations because of duplicate bugs or fake bugs (expected behaviour as documented). PSE has evolved out from a need to control the bug traffic going towards Engineering.
Similar to messages, we handle subcases daily and provide a third level support for ASE. This means the customer issues can’t be resolved simply through online documentation or a simple knowledge base entry research. Through our technical expertise and accessibility to source code, we help the 1st/2nd level support in the way of a SAP IMS (Investigation Management System) Engineer would help a SAP MS (Message Solver) Engineer to de-escalate customer messages independently. Very often we are involved in escalated customer conference calls and customers respect us for our product expertise during the calls. Essentially, we need to know ASE code line well and be a good code surfer using software debugging tools. After all, we need to dig up our gold mine SHMD (Shared Memory Dump) to provide as much diagnostic information as possible efficiently. A SHMD is a capture of the state of a running ASE using in house diagnostic tool called Sybmon.
A screenshot from Dave Putz(our SHMD expert) who’s doing an Error 707 SHMD analysis
We also differentiate between program error, functional gap, development request and consulting for the customers’ issues, channelling them to appropriate Engineering groups or Solution Management.
Brown bags like how to troubleshoot ASE Optimizer, Configuring ASE for LDAP/Kerberos are conducted by PSEs to share knowledge on the mature ESDs version of ASE. Some of us are invited by Engineering to review product features in Beta versions before they become official. Simon Ogden, a UK PSE, was invited to participate in the SAP Business Suite Porting Project for ASE because of his expertise knowledge in ASE optimizer and customer support experience. Niclas Andersson, another UK PSE works with consulting on an ASE performance monitoring tool called ASEMON. Now being part of SAP support as a message solver engineer, what does it mean for me? Personally, it is an exciting future in bringing better value to our existing customers by tapping into collective wisdom of SAP support in terms of product knowledge. And I look forward in serving a broader SAP customer base.
ASEMON which Niclas is working with Goran a consultant