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    10 min read

    The good, bad and ugly - SAP Solution Manager

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    SAP Solution Manager, while often regarded as a single product needs to be looked at as a set of many capabilities, each designed to solve a particular set of problems or support a particular business need. Not every capability is needed or used by every customer.

    [Updated 4/9/2019] 

    Being a tool that has so many elements in it, there are things that it excels at, which looks to be where SAP is focusing its roadmap (presented in Las Vegas at TechEd September, 2017), and there are several things that can be done better with other tools which complement Solution Manager.

     Solution Manager is a great tool for the following:

    Business Process Management

    This is an area which seems to be a focus development area for SAP in the next few years. At the last SAP TechEd in Las Vegas, SAP discussed some of the existing and upcoming capabilities.

    Supported today:

    • Joint modeling of processes by business and IT specialists
    • Central process execution via a Java-based process engine
    • Provision of intuitive interfaces for business users
    • Integration of business rules into your processes

     Many enhancements scheduled through 2019 including:

    • Further drag and drop functionality
    • Ability to create manual processes (to directly compete with Vizio)
    • Double click on process sections to open up subprocesses

    Management of System Data

    • Data volume management
    • Data consistency management - the tools and procedures required to prevent, detect and fix inconsistency in your SAP landscape
    • Cross-database comparison
    • Internal database comparison

    System & Infrastructure Development, Releases, Versioning and License Management

    • Maintenance planner - planning systems maintenance with consistent support for pack stack calculation
    • License management both for SAP and maintenance licenses
    • SAP ITIM (only supported with additional license) - extend infrastructure maintenance beyond SAP systems
    • Custom code management - identify and index custom code as well as identify unused code to decrease upgrade effort
    • Scope and effort analyzer - offer both test effort calculation and optimization as well as combines Business Process Change Analyzer (BPCA) capabilities with custom code management to scope the amount of an effort related to an upgrade

    Change Control Management

    • Quality gate management
    • Change request management
    • Release management
    • Transport management
    • Retrofit
    • Downgrade protection
    • Change reporting
    • Retrofit capability
    • Transport execution analysis reporting

    IT Service Management (ITSM)

    • Incident ticket logging
    • Traceability of incidents
    • Escalation of incident into problem (locking them info problem ticket) and to SAP support
    • Incident team determination

    System Testing and Qualification

    • Test automation framework including component-based test automation and 3rd party automation integration
    • Business process change analyzer which identifies test requirements and scope
    • Application test management and reporting
    • Test case and plan organization
    • Integration with process management

    However, Technical Monitoring is where Solution Manager doesn’t excel. Some common issues users we are talking to are facing:

    • Users get too many notifications making it very hard to find the needle in the haystack
    • Monitoring requires manual tedious repetition on daily checks require the Basis team to invest a lot of time just to ensure that the system is working well
    • Lack of proper change management resulting in team manually managing Excel sheets with the changes that were done

     Below you can find a comparison of Avantra and Solution Manager

     

     

    Solution Manager 7.2

    Avantra 20.x

    Implementation efforts

    (e.g. Landscape with approx. 40 systems)

    Very high

    Weeks to months (See  example)

    Low

    1-2 days

    Landscape required

    2 System landscape highly recommended (Upgrade twice a year FP - Features Packages)

    1 system

    Fast almost seamless upgrade

    Initial installation

    Very complex initial installation (example  1)

    Following by upgrades to the latest Feature Pack and very complicated configuration

    Expected time: Several months

    Very simple about couple of hours for the master and 15 minutes per server. Custom checks and configuration – additional ½ a day

    Maintenance

    High

    should be compatible with all the managed systems (see SAP Product availability Matrix)

    Low

    Update all agents automatically through central master. Doesn’t require any updates of SAP elements

    Dependencies in other components

    High

    CCMS / SAPHost Agent ST-PI / PI

    Low

    (Avantra's agents have a direct connection to the ABAP/Java Stack)

    Upgrade efforts

    High

    7.1 to 7.2 - Total new concept / new KPI. Some users say it is so complicated that it is easier to do a fresh install

    Very simple

    (centrally managed)

    Upgrade prerequisites

    Yes

    Up to date components dependency

    No

    Compatible with older agents

    License cost

    Free-ish (but very long implementation time and high consulting fees, read this customer experience)

    Based on the number of systems you monitor (very fast ROI, payback is typically less than 6 months, always less than a year)

    Complexity

    High

    Some modules are part of a multitude of applications. Requires a lot of training.

    Low

    Avantra is focus only in monitoring and design with use simplicity in mind. Almost no training required.

    Security

    Due to the integration with all other applications and the high number of different users

    an enforced security concept should be defined and maintained.

    Solman has become the preferred tool to hack into your SAP Landscape.

    Enhanced role based access right (r/w access only needed for the configuration).

    False positive alerts /

    False negative alerts

    Alerts not configured by default.

    If objects are activated a

    high flow of Alerts can be generated causing a flood of emails to everyone’s inbox.

    -> Try on errors

    Out of the box - best practices / Parameters only need thresholds set.

    Required Infrastructure

    Landscape < 100 systems

    Up to date Solman usually with Solman 7.2 HANA Server with 64 GB RAM and Disk 200GB

    8 GB Linux/Windows and 40 GB

    Required Infrastructure

    Landscape > 100 systems

    Not possible with Solman 7.2

    Focus Run needed

    (> 100 GB RAM, 0.5 TB Disks) on a HANA appliance

    16 GB Linux / Windows

    80 GB Disks

    Notifications

    Rely on a chain of sub components

    Use direct channel. Email, SMS

    Daily reports

    Has to be setup as SLR.

    Out-of-the-box native templates built into the system

    User customizable checks

    No native SQL supported directly - complex

    Simple to create custom checks as well as scripts or native SQL

    External checks

    (outside SAP systems)

    Maybe licensed -depends on your license agreement

    Yes

    Systems Start/Stop

    No automated capabilities, requires manual start/stop of SAP systems us of purchased third party products.

    Can start/stop a single SAP system with a click of a button or can schedule a maintenance window where Avantra will Start and stop multiple SAP systems on a schedule

    Cloud Automation

    Requires third party SAP products to be purchased

    Avantra has APIs and full integration with AWS, Azure, Google Cloud Platform and Alibaba cloud. It offers performance based automatics scale out and down of SAP systems on the cloud. It offers systems start and stop of cloud instances based on SAP performance metrics or on a schedule. Combined with Avantra's SAP start/stop capabilies, it offers a fluid SAP architecture