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Introduction

In this blog post I will give an example how to leverage the power of SAP HANA for reporting purposes of IT Service Management with SAP Solution Manager 7.2. I will also give some basic hints about what’s new with the 7.2 release and which improvements we can expect compared to the 7.1 release.

Since several years I work as a technology consultant for SAP Solution Manager within the Practice Unit Application Lifecycle Management of SAP. Our consulting unit delivers all kinds of services across the entire application lifecycle management around the world. My main focus regarding Solution Manager is on its analytical capabilities. Especially in the areas of IT Service Management and Change Request Management I implemented many dashboards and reports with all kinds of technologies.

Motivation

Besides choosing and implementing a proper UI technology the main challenge has been the definition of highly performant BW queries. While the BW data model for most scenarios of SAP Solution Manager 7.1 was designed to handle large data volumes (for example to store data from System Monitoring), this was not the case for the IT Service Management scenario. For instance, the Info Provider 0SPR_DATM to analyze durations of ITSM transactions executes a table join across 8 data stores. Defining performant queries is then practically impossible when the volume of created ITSM transactions reaches more than say 100 per week.

With SAP Solution Manager 7.2 we now have new opportunities to build beautiful dashboards that run with high performance at the same time. The new Dashboard Builder substitutes BEx Web Templates and Xcelsius Dashboards used in SAP Solution Manager 7.1. It is a SAPUI5-based, coding-free and easy-to-use tool that enables SAP customers to quickly build a dashboard via a configuration wizard. Furthermore, the data model for ITSM and ChaRM was completely redesigned with a special focus on high query execution performance – even with large amounts of data.


New Report UIs with SAP Solution Manager 7.2 Dashboard Builder

While this sounds very promising and you directly get this out of the box with the new 7.2 release, I am always curious to see what’s possible beyond the standard way. Since SAP offers a free license for SAP HANA with SAP Solution Manager 7.2 there might be an additional way to implement high performance reports directly based on HANA without the need for a BW implementation. And this is what I did…

Implementation Approach and Results

First of all I deployed a Solution Manager 7.2 running on HANA via the SAP Cloud Appliance Library (CAL) on Amazon Web Services (AWS). There I implemented an ABAP report to generate a significant amount of ITSM transactions in order to analyze the behavior of the BW data model compared to HANA views. Since changes to user status of these transactions multiply the amount of data, I also implemented a status change report. Background jobs running several times per hour executed those reports and I could generate more than 200.000 ITSM transactions within a few weeks. Accordingly, the status change log (table CRM_JCDS) contains several million records.

While the background jobs were running, I performed the setup of standard ITSM Analytics via SOLMAN_SETUP. The data extraction was defined to run several times per day transferring ITSM transactions data into the new BW data model.

Having ITSM data in transactional and analytical data stores of Solution Manager, I could now define HANA views and BEx Queries to read this data. As a first starting point I chose a typical reporting requirement: Number of transactions by creation date and transaction priority. I created a HANA attribute view to return ITSM transactions and priorities. Then I used this attribute view in a calculation view to count the number of transactions.


HANA Attribute View

To compare the performance of this HANA view with the query performance based on the standard ITSM BW content, I also created a BEx Query returning the number of transactions by creation date and priority.


BEx Query Definition

The performance analysis clearly showed the power that can be leveraged by directly using HANA: The data selection processes during the query execution took more than 6 seconds, while the execution of the HANA view with the same data set took only 0.250 seconds.

In other words, for this showcase HANA speeds up report execution by more than 24 times!


Runtime Statistics for BEx Query


Runtime of HANA Calculation View

Conclusion

With the new SAP Solution Manager release I see a lot of potential in order to speed up BW reports as well as reports based on transactional data.

The re-design of the ITSM Analytics data model should speed up BW reports with an acceptable latency – even in environments with large amounts of data. My sample implementation outlined in this blog post already demonstrates this potential.

Beyond this I would like to encourage customers to think about the opportunity having a HANA database without any license costs. With that even more power can be leveraged in terms of execution time – and thus overall user experience!

Implementing reports on transactional database tables with HANA instead of BW data model has also several other benefits:

– Less Redundancy: we don’t have to store data several times on the same system
– Less Error-Prone: we don’t have to extract, transform and stage data that is already available as transactional data
– Less Resource Consumption: we don’t spend resources on extraction, staging and storage of data but use the data that is available for free already

In conclusion, we from SAP Consulting will definitely include HANA based reporting in our consulting offerings for SAP Solution Manager 7.2 and we are looking forward to explore new frontiers of ITSM Analytics in our customer projects!

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1 Comment

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  1. Tom Cenens

    Hi Tobias

    Interesting post so thanks for sharing but I’m missing something still here.

    How did you bridge that gap of the fact that the Dashboard Builder cannot consume SAP HANA views directly? It’s not one of the available data sources to put the results on the tile or into a dashboard.

    What also a bummer is that you would have to build up the views yourself like this, getting the different involved tables and building up those views. In the BW part, at least you already have the InfoCubes available, question remains there is these are complete enough, that’s a different story. I hear plenty of customers complaining about the complexity of these InfoCubes in terms of understand what to consume when building custom reports and the fact that they lack certain information that the customer is looking for to answer some basic questions (around ITSM and CHARM even). I still have to look into the specific cubes for SolMan 7.2 but I will soon so this topic you bring up is also of interest to me.

    In my opinion, SAP should be providing this to the customer out of the box and not get them to pay for this. I assume SAP does want these customers who can get a taste of SAP HANA to see and believe it’s powerful and awesome and all so I would only hope then that this gets delivered by SAP for most generic questions customers ask. There are plenty of easy / simple questions around ITSM / CHARM that are not yet answered by the currently analytics or reporting that is provided. A pity because it gives the customer a feeling of it’s 90 or 95% covered but that last 5 to 10% is what customers miss out on. I do get SAP needs to support AnyDB but by providing these kind of possibilities on top which is fine since AnyDB can consume Bex Queries instead, there would be one more reason for customers to run SAP Solution manager 7.2 on SAP HANA.

    Best regards

    Tom

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