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Lessons Learned from the Road with ALM Roadmap

The Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) roadmap continues a 2019 tour to take SAP Solution Manager subject matter experts across Germany. As a back-seat observer, I’ve learned several basic things from this trip so far. To protect oneself from going hungry, for example, is to consume at least one of the four food groups of the autobahn rest stop: Wurst, Pommes, Schnitzel, or Spätzle. Tourists can practice their pronunciations beforehand or just point to the lukewarm selection waiting behind the sneeze guard.

What I should have learned from the highway

When first invited to join the ALM tour, I quickly accepted, full of excitement. Many road trips start out this way. You can’t help but to roll down the windows and shout along with your favorite songs.

Eventually, maybe after a bathroom break at an autobahn rest stop, long stretches of road can then lead to insightful conversation. I assumed ALM to be the casual short form of our new product SAP Cloud ALM. Such an assumption exposed during a conversational deep-dive is irresistibly amusing to the experts. Fortunately, my status as a back-seat observer allowed me to quietly retreat online with a smart phone and headphones and find the expert-approved video series to explain the ABCs of ALM. The video series answered fundamental questions such as:

  • What is the ALM roadmap of SAP?
  • What is SAP Cloud ALM?
  • What is the roadmap of SAP Solution Manager?
  • How are SAP Cloud ALM and SAP Solution Manager related?

Now the basics are obvious to even me. Now I see that the ALM support portal menu (shown below) suddenly makes sense:

This menu shows that ALM encompasses menu items SAP Solution Manager, Focused Solutions (including Focus Build), SAP Cloud ALM (including the implementation portal), and Cloud Extensions. This means that these menu items belong to ALM. Further, a roadmap for ALM and a roadmap for SAP Solution Manager complement each other and co-exist with each other. Maybe every expert knew that already, but now I do too.

What I learned from Bonn

Experts offered presentations and live demos for the German-speaking SAP user group known as DSAG, which hosted February’s tech event in Bonn. One of the things I observed is that visitors to Bonn may see that it traces its origins as an ancient Roman settlement in 1st century B.C. and showcases its adaptability up to today as a modern and cosmopolitan city. I found it fitting to learn that the ALM roadmap information shared in Bonn also ultimately told a broader story of adaptability.

There’s adaptability in ALM’s core functions. By definition, according to the experts’ presentation slides, ALM’s core functions require adaptability:

In addition, the ALM roadmap adapts to current and future business environments through a commitment to supporting cloud and hybrid solutions, and a commitment to integrating customers’ own improvement ideas from SAP’s customer influence program.

Customers influencing SAP development projects worked out so well for SAP Solution Manager 7.2 SPS 8 that we’ve had to shout: SPS 8 is great! Yes, the slogan conveniently rhymes, but more importantly, it reflects the feedback from customers, from events in Bonn and other locations, applauding the high-quality and best-so-far practical improvements in SPS 8. For an even brighter future, customers can help themselves and join in the development process by offering and voting on improvement suggestions.

Similarly, I found myself wanting to join in the trip-planning process, while riding along as a backseat observer on the ALM road trip. I’ve researched a few online travel guides and found information about places the guides called hidden gems. Some guides consider Bonn itself a hidden gem, rich with history for the educated tourist. Did you know that Bonn is the birthplace of modern German democracy, having served as the capital of West Germany from 1949 to 1990? Did you know that Bonn is the birthplace of legendary composer Ludwig van Beethoven? You did? Really? Well, it turns out a place can only be a hidden gem to you if you previously knew nothing about it. My ALM experts and travel companions, both real-life Deutsche, were less than impressed by my online Germany travel guide tourist trivia.

I was continually impressed by information gems from the ALM experts, on the other hand, as they explained ALM strategy and provided demos to customers in Bonn. So from my notes, here are three fundamental takeaways:

1)

The step-by-step strategy to extend SAP Cloud ALM’s scope is a long-term strategy over the next few years. The first step starts with the implementation portal for SAP S/4HANA Cloud, which is available now. Additional steps will complete lifecycle coverage, and beyond that, coverage of SAP products to all SAP solutions.

2)

Finding the right ALM solution requires a bit of solution self-reflection. What kind of solution do I have? What kind of solution do I want in the future? For answers, consider these four customer cases:

  • Case 1: Customer has an on-premise-centric solution and plans to keep it
  • Case 2: Customer has a cloud-centric solution or is cloud only
  • Case 3: Customer has a small, standard on-premise solution
  • Case 4: Customer moves towards cloud or standardized ALM

3)

Regarding the phases of the Focused Build requirements-to-deploy process, the preparation phase is the time to define the project roles. These roles (solution architect, test manager, developer . . .) have distinct duties for different phases.

What I hope to learn from St. Leon-Rot

Inspired by the next DSAG information session, which I will visit in St. Leon-Rot later in March, I learned that tourist information about St. Leon-Rot inevitably mentions its proximity to Heidelberg. Oh lovely, I’ve heard of Heidelberg, a potential tourist may say. After all, according to Heidelberg’s official website, over 11 million tourists visit Heidelberg each year.

Many come to see the medieval castle or the romantic shopping area along the river. Being near to something is undoubtedly helpful, but who would argue that it replaces the experience of the thing itself? Similarly, the ALM resources I’ve found online do not outweigh the value of interacting with a live ALM expert via Q&As and networking sessions at a tech event.

One of the themes in St. Leon-Rot’s information session will provide an update on SAP Support Backbone. Its fast-approaching 2020 deadline highlights the urgency for getting answers to your fundamental questions asked about this topic. Just as it may turn out that not every tourist will find their way to St. Leon-Rot on the road to Heidelberg, whether or not you can personally meet ALM experts available at 2019 tech events worldwide, you can still get interactive expert advice and updates through a SAP Support Backbone discussion forum.

Finally, I learned that ALM experts will also venture beyond Germany’s borders in 2019. For example, dates for the SAP Solution Manager 7.2 and SAP Cloud ALM Global Roadshow 2019 are not all set, but you can check the home page for registration information as it becomes available. Among other opportunities, I’m looking forward to 2019 SAP Solution Manager Education Summit (SolEd) events in Bangalore, India (June 11-13), Philadelphia, USA (November 5-7), and Heidelberg, Germany (December 3-6), even if, unlike your favorite autobahn rest stop selections, they’re not yet prepared, warm, and waiting. Stay tuned for online registration resources.

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