OSS Notes – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
In the past I blogged about disruptiveness of SAP NW 7.31, then about poor quality of SAP NW 7.31 SPs: I found out that from SP4 to SP8 there have been nearly neither deletions nor development of new objects but many changes.
Now I want to leave statistics and want to talk about my own experience because at the moment this makes me feel a bit helpless. This is my story: I have to downport an application to a system with a lower SP level of NW 7.31 and got into trouble. As a consequence in the last two weeks I decided to install 43 OSS notes to fix some problems in SAP_BASIS. Then I found out that the problems have not been solved, instead they shifted to another SAP_BASIS application and I let install another 17 OSS notes in one day and still not everything is fixed. So I opened OSS notes and tried to find out workarounds and finally everything seems to work but the time schedule of the project got into trouble as well as the costs and work life balance of the team. This is annoying and some questions come to my mind which I try to discuss in the following.
Are low SP levels still a good starting point for new Ehp implementations?
In the past I thought that an upgrade to an Ehp possible as soon as the software is general available. Before using new applications and functionalities of an Ehp I looked carefully on the number of OS notes and then decided whether or not to use them. At the moment this best practice is not that useful: even former mature software can become buggy. For me SP8 is a good starting point and you have only to apply a little number of OSS notes but SP4 and SP5 are a nightmare.
Are SPs patchable?
The answer to the question is simple: of course they are in theory – but in real life? As I wrote above I decided to implement more than 40 OSS notes and depended notes. To overcome all problem another 150 OSS notes would have to be installed but I learned that some OSS notes require manual development that are described on 15 or more pages. This is far too risky and takes too much time to apply.
Is Upgrade an Option?
Most annoying have been the discussions with SAP Active Global Support: I was told to apply all notes (although I consider this as not manageable) or to apply a new SP. But this is not possible after my experience of the last deletions: an SP can be so disruptive that it can influence the already developed and perhaps productive applications on the system. It is my experience that an upgrade requires intensive tests and I can do this only at the beginning at a development cycle.
If upgrade is not option you have to install OSS notes – and this is the main topic of my blog: what did I learn about the quality of OSS notes.
OSS Notes should be externally Released
In many cases I found out that many OSS not are not externally released. In this case your search for a solution fails, you have to open an OSS message and wait for the response. But there are other reasons why search for OSS notes fails which I describe in the following.
OSS Notes have to contain meaningful descriptions of the Problem they solve
Many of OSS notes don’t contain concise description of error so if you have a dump often you don’t have the chance to find an appropriate note. Many OSS notes of NW 7.31 describe that parts of an application are buggy or still in development. Let me give you an example: WDA Unified Rendering has trouble and there are many related notes. In some cases Service Portal links to SCN Wiki which is really cool: http://wiki.scn.sap.com/wiki/display/WDABAP/Unified+Rendering+Notes+-+Which+one+to+apply. Unfortunately there is no explanation about the problems the OSS notes solve – think of file upload in WDA for example or other problems with the UI. Perhaps this is explained somewhere but SAP should create a knowledge base article –and most import- link to it from the wiki and OSS notes.
Single OSS Notes as Hotfix Collections can be Fatal
There are many notes which have the character of hotfix collections and this is annoying since above mentioned problems of missing problem description is endemic here. There are only some texts like “this note contains many improvements and minor error corrections” which is not really helpful.
OSS notes should be easy installable
So far I discussed only bad OSS notes – now let’s look at the ugly ones. Some of them are not automatically downloadable and instead they require manual corrections. I have seen OSS notes that require 15 pages of manual corrections which is quite error prone, takes time is a nightmare for basis administrators which sometimes have somewhat limited development skill. So dear SAP AGS, please release note that are easily installable.
OSS notes should be self-contained and should have not much Prerequisites
The ugliest OSS notes are ones which have many requirements. The trouble with prerequisites is that the installation effort is too big especially if manual corrections are necessary. Moreover I’m forced to install additional notes which might be problematic because of test effort, unwanted side effects, sometime bigger changes if optional additional features are enabled and so on.
Dear AGS, I appreciate if you recommend to install other notes but I would like to have control over the OSS notes I want to install. I don’t want the UI to be changed to get my background jobs running. Please avoid unnecessary prerequisites.
The Quality of early SAP NetWeaver SPs is a Mess and the Root Cause
One message of my blog should be clear: the root cause of all problems I discussed in this blog is the poor quality of some SPs of SAP NetWeaver. And I made really bad experience in at least four different applications within AS ABAP that have been released for years so it’s definitely not the problem of edge development or single development teams. And SAP has to get better here.
The poor software quality of SAP NetWeaver is a challenge for SAP customers and for SAP Active Global Support. I would appreciate if SAP AGS would try to release better OSS Notes and I tried to explain what kind of notes I would like to see.