Dr. Franz-Josef Fritz,
Software logistics, solution management, lifecycle management — what's
the difference? What impact do they have on
your current system landscape and what role
do they play in your SAP solutions? And what
about managing custom applications, and all
the related hardware and supporting technical
infrastructure? What tools are available to
streamline your solutions, from implementation
and development to updates and change management?
This article — the first of two on this topic — clarifies these terms, their relation to each other, and in particular how SAP offerings can help across your landscape, from your SAP solutions to custom development. A more in-depth discussion in the next "Take Note!" column will look at the particular requirements of the life cycles of SAP software and your own custom development, and how SAP offerings support both their distinct life cycle management needs.
Let's start with a brief outline of these two scenarios:
- In customer installations, the SAP software life cycle doesn't end at implementation. It spans implementation, day-to-day use, and continuous adaptation. This can range from
introducing and installing mySAP CRM, or making the move from SAP R/3 to mySAP ERP, or using one or several of the scenarios supported by SAP NetWeaver to
optimize business processes. SAP's solution lifecycle management is focused on SAP's own standard
applications, to support customers at each step.
- At the same time, SAP standard
software will be accompanied by your own custom development scenarios. This includes extensions to SAP solutions, or the building of applications on top of SAP NetWeaver — which not only serves as the application platform for SAP standard solutions, but also as the integration platform for these extensions and additional applications to provide
end-to-end support for your business processes. This might involve developing your own intranet or extranet applications on top of SAP Enterprise Portal, linking homegrown components to SAP solutions via the SAP Exchange Infrastructure, or implementing a composite application on top of SAP and third-party applications. Here, SAP's tools also support a broader, overall lifecycle management approach. One specific part of this includes software logistics tools for software distribution and deployment, but you will see that lifecycle management goes far beyond that.
Both scenarios (SAP standard software and custom development) have their own specific set of requirements (we will look at each scenario in detail in a future column). But they also have much in common — in both cases, major investments need to be protected while, at the same time, change and evolution need to be supported across an extended life cycle for ongoing adaptation to business needs.
SAP Solutions Have a Long Life, So Protect Your IT Investments!
Enterprise software is a major asset of a company. Just consider how:
- In many cases, structured and unstructured information stored in databases and repositories represent and reflect the real-world assets of a company: products, partners, employees, and finances. In some cases, this information is an asset itself and can be the most valuable property of the company.
- Your business processes are mapped to the configurations and enhancements of your IT landscape. Business processes also require and drive the addition of complementary software, the definition of business rules, the documentation of practices and procedures, and so on.
- Experience and knowledge about processes and procedures throughout the end-user community is a big asset as well — one that should be carefully managed whenever changes occur.
This is true for SAP's standard software offerings as well as any custom extensions or development, which in many cases are highly interdependent. Protecting these investments and managing the life cycle of these solutions in the best possible way is critical to maintaining and protecting these business assets.
However, this is not just a one-off, short-term strategy, especially with the long lives that SAP solutions have. Consider that SAP R/2 is more than 20 years old, and only now is approaching its end of life. SAP R/3 will live even longer — it will be more than 20 years old when it reaches customer-specific maintenance. And in contrast to the transition from SAP R/2 to SAP R/3, which was accompanied by a complete replacement of the IT infrastructure, the latest SAP enterprise software takes an evolutionary path, for upgrades that will protect your IT investments as you move from R/3 to SAP R/3 Enterprise to mySAP ERP.
So not only do you need tools and resources to manage and optimize your IT landscape today, you also need an approach that will help you manage SAP software and related investments for the long term.
SAP Solution Manager as the Overarching Management Framework
The SAP Solution Manager integrates all the content, tools, and methodologies that you need to support the technical implementation and operation of your standard SAP solutions. With the SAP Solution Manager installed onsite, your enterprise has a central point of entry for performing services to enhance system operations, monitor solutions, and support the entire system landscape.1 It provides links to SAP's product databases for information about components and versions. It also provides links to SAP's service and support offerings for implementation, operation, and change management. And of course, it is linked to all SAP application systems in a customer system landscape.
Figure 1 shows the connections between the Solution Manager system, the SAP product databases, the SAP Support systems, and the application systems on the customer site, which are managed by the SAP Solution Manager.
|Solution Manager in an SAP Customer Landscape
In Figure 1, there is a stream of information from the SAP product databases to the customer landscape, which allows permanent delivery of business scenario-related information, documentation, test cases, process models, and many more. This helps to ensure that solutions are kept up-to-date between major release upgrades. Likewise, the channel back to SAP Support systems allows for the most efficient resolution of problem reports.
Taking a Broad View to Managing Your IT Landscape – Lifecycle Management and SAP Solutions
When you look at the broader architecture of any solution in an SAP landscape, the various layers each have a life cycle of their own (see Figure 2). Many technologies and tools you may already use for SAP solutions also support the life cycle of these layers. For example:
|Four Solution Layers, Each with Its Own Life Cycle Requirements
- Hardware resources, including computers, storage systems, and network equipment. The SAP Web Application Server (SAP Web AS) architecture allows you to add and replace hardware resources and their assignment to specific software components and workloads without requiring changes to the layers above (infrastructure, software, etc.). Using new hardware architectures (like new chip architectures, 64-bit addressing, etc.) has been possible without any change to application layers. The upcoming Adaptive Computing Infrastructure, which is piloted with SAP NetWeaver '04 and will be significantly extended in the future releases of SAP NetWeaver, will even allow you to do most of these changes on the fly.
- Technical infrastructure, such as your operating systems, database systems, and Java Virtual Machines. Again, SAP Web AS provides an abstraction layer on top of these components and allows upgrades to, for example, new database releases — or even the complete replacement of one database product by another without any changes to the application layers. These updates and replacements occur hundreds of times each month in the SAP customer base, proving the value of this flexibility and the protection of investments.
- SAP software, including any delivered and installed standard SAP software components. With these solutions, SAP provides a broad spectrum of technical services and application functionality, depending on the actual configuration (see Figure 3 for a partial listing). And in contrast to many other vendors, the majority of SAP software components have been extended and enhanced in a compatible manner, for upgrades to newer releases with ever-decreasing effort and downtime.
- Configuration of
technical and application components.
Configuration allows you to adapt to
changing business processes and varying
load profiles without making changes
to the underlying software components — this
means that this adaptation and change
can largely happen without any programming!
SAP tools at the configuration level
include the implementation guide (IMG)
and Business Configuration Sets (BC
||Benefit in the
Context of Lifecycle
||IMG (SAP Implementation
and implementation guide
||Structured approach for
configuration of scenarios
and business processes
sets of customizing data
for coherent application
||Speed up configuration
and make it easy to transfer
proven configurations between
|Software and Configuration
||Control center for management
and administration of tests
during implementation and
||Ensures that the needed
set of tests is conducted,test
results are evaluated,and
follow-up actions are triggered
||Automated test tool for
SAP solu- tions and custom
software (driven by the
to perform automated regression
tests and to protect solutions
against unwanted side effects
||CCMS (Computer Center
||System for central administration
of system landscapes
||Helps to automate normal
operations and speed up
response to exceptional
||SLD (SAP System Landscape
||Directory for landscape
definitions, software components,
and access points
||Serves as the "master
systems and software,and
provides a consistent storage
for a unified view to avoid
||Service for analyzing
cost drivers and risk factors
for an implementation or
||Provides guidelines for
the remaining implementation
project,and minimizes risks
||Service that ensures
the whole solution is ready
to go live
||Ensure successful productive
|Software and Configuration
||Change Request Management2
||Set of tools available
in Solution Manager to
manage change requests
from creationto successful
||Keeps track of changes,and
ensures that changes provide
the desired benefits and
avoid unwanted side effects
more information on Change
Request Management in the
Solution Manager, please
see "Managing Changes
with the SAPSolution Manager" by
Matthias Melich in this
issue of SAP Insider(www.SAPinsider.com).
Lifecycle Management Tools from
Resources on SAP Solution Manager and SAP NetWeaver Development Tools
Service Marketplace: http://service.sap.com/solutionmanager
"Introducing SAP NetWeaver Developer Studio, Designed to Handle Enterprise-Scale Java Development Projects" by
Karl Kessler, SAP Insider October-December 2003 (www.SAPinsider.com)
"SAP Java Development Infrastructure Supports Developers from Project Start to Finish" by
Wolf Hengevoss, SAP Insider October-December 2003 (www.SAPinsider.com)
"Faster and Easier J2EE-Compliant Design with New Tools from SAP NetWeaver Developer Studio" by
Karl Kessler, SAP Insider July-September 2003 (www.SAPinsider.com)
"Managing Changes with the SAP Solution Manager" by
Matthias Melich, SAP Insider October-December 2004 (www.SAPinsider.com)
Today, SAP Solution Manager
and the whole set of SAP's lifecycle
management tools already empower our customers
to deal with change in software, processes,
and IT environments. Over time, the SAP Solution
Manager will become even more integrated
with SAP NetWeaver to form a key part of
a holistic central infrastructure for implementation,
operation, and change management offering
a central environment for SAP NetWeaver supportability.
As you consider all the tools available to
you in SAP systems right now, look to improve
solution management as your IT landscape evolves
and save resources, time, and even costs in
maintaining your solution landscape:
- If you have not done so yet, start using
the SAP Solution Manager for
streamlining the implementation, operation,
and change management of system landscapes,
especially if you run multiple SAP systems.
- Leverage tools like Test Workbench to
reduce the risk involved in implementation
and change projects and to prevent later
problems during productive operation.
- Look into the benefits of the Support
Desk and Change Request
Management functions to reduce
support costs and increase support efficiency
within your company.
- Leverage the SAP NetWeaver
platform not only for your standard
applications, but also for your custom development
projects. You will be able to use the same
infrastructure, same toolset, same knowledge,
and lifecycle management concept and tools
for your standard and custom applications.
So what about the differences between managing
those in-house, custom solutions and the standard
solutions offered by SAP? In the next issue,
this column takes a closer look at the particular
requirements for managing custom development
life cycle, as well as lifecycle management
of SAP solutions, and how SAP tools, solutions,
and services can help at each phase of the
SAP solutions and custom applications respectively.
1 See "Equip
Your mySAP.com Landscape with a Central Platform
for Monitoring and Support" in the
January-March 2002 issue of SAP Insider (www.SAPinsider.com).
J. Fritz has a Ph.D. in mathematics and 30
years of experience in all areas of IT. Workflow
and business process management have been
particular areas of interest for much of
his life. He has worked for SAP since 1993
as Program Director and Vice President with
responsibility for the Business Process Technology
and Internet-Business Framework departments.
Recently, he took over responsibility for
SAP NetWeaver product management within SAP
AG as Vice President of NetWeaver Product
Management and Open Standards.