GRC
HR
SCM
CRM
BI


Article

 

Lifecycle Management — What's That?

by Dr. Franz-Josef Fritz | SAPinsider

October 1, 2004

by Dr. Franz-Josef Fritz, SAP AG SAPinsider - 2004 (Volume 5), October (Issue 4)
 



Dr. Franz-Josef Fritz,
SAP AG

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.

Figure 1
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:

Figure 2
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 Sets).

Layer Tool/Service Tool/Service Description Benefit in the Context of Lifecycle Management
Configuration IMG (SAP Implementation Guide) System configuration and implementation guide Structured approach for configuration of scenarios and business processes
Configuration BC Sets Business configuration sets of customizing data for coherent application scenarios Speed up configuration and make it easy to transfer proven configurations between systems
Software and Configuration Test Workbench Control center for management and administration of tests during implementation and change phases Ensures that the needed set of tests is conducted,test results are evaluated,and follow-up actions are triggered as needed
All Layers eCATT Automated test tool for SAP solu- tions and custom software (driven by the Test Workbench) Allow administrators to perform automated regression tests and to protect solutions against unwanted side effects of changes
All Layers CCMS (Computer Center Management System) System for central administration of system landscapes Helps to automate normal operations and speed up response to exceptional situations
All Layers SLD (SAP System Landscape Directory) Directory for landscape definitions, software components, and access points Serves as the "master data repository"for systems and software,and provides a consistent storage for a unified view to avoid redundant maintenance
All Layers SAP Safeguarding Service for analyzing cost drivers and risk factors for an implementation or upgrade Provides guidelines for the remaining implementation project,and minimizes risks during operation
All Layers Go-Live Checks Service that ensures the whole solution is ready to go live Ensure successful productive operation
Software and Configuration Change Request Management2 Set of tools available in Solution Manager to manage change requests from creationto successful completion Keeps track of changes,and ensures that changes provide the desired benefits and avoid unwanted side effects
2 For 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).
Figure 3
Some Lifecycle Management Tools from SAP

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)

Conclusion

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).


Franz 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.

 

An email has been sent to:






More from SAPinsider



COMMENTS

Please log in to post a comment.

No comments have been submitted on this article. Be the first to comment!


SAPinsider
FAQ