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The April 2nd SAP Changeover: Will You Be Ready?

by Dr. Matthias Melich | SAPinsider

January 1, 2007

On April 2, 2007, companies running SAP NetWeaver 2004s and beyond, as well as any applications based on it, will need Maintenance Optimizer, a new SAP Solution Manager component, in order to receive any support packages or legal changes. SAP Vice President Dr. Matthias Melich examines the impact of this changeover, the benefits it will bring, and what companies need to do to prepare for it.

After April 2, 2007, every customer running SAP NetWeaver 2004s and beyond, as well as any applications based on it (including mySAP Business Suite 2005 applications, such as ERP, CRM, SRM, SCM, and PLM) will require Maintenance Optimizer, the newest component in SAP Solution Manager, to receive support packages and legal changes.

In one way or another, this affects every SAP customer. For some, the impact will be immediate; for others, the impact will come later, unless they elect to take advantage of this new technology today.

  • For those running SAP NetWeaver 2004s-based solutions today: After April 2, you will not be able to obtain or apply any support packages or legal updates without the Maintenance Optimizer. The Maintenance Optimizer becomes available in January 2007 at no charge to SAP customers. To start using the full scope of the Maintenance Optimizer, you'll need to move to SAP Solution Manager 4.0, Support Package 9. A limited set of the new features is also available with SAP Solution Manager 3.2, Support Package 15. Call your SAP representative for details.

  • For those planning an upgrade to mySAP Business Suite 2005 or any other solution based on SAP NetWeaver 2004s: The April 2, 2007, changeover date will have a profound impact if you are among the thousands of SAP Insider readers evaluating or actively planning implementations and upgrades. SAP Solution Manager has to factor into your plans because you'll need this platform to install mySAP Business Suite 2005 and other solutions based on SAP NetWeaver 2004s. Because it is a separate system, SAP Solution Manager requires its own hardware resources, either on existing hardware or on a separate box. You will, however, be able to leverage the various capabilities that SAP Solution Manager provides in all phases of your SAP solution life cycle — from installation to upgrade, including support and continuous improvements (see Figure 1). SAP Solution Manager is so tightly interwoven with mySAP Business Suite 2005 and future product lines that it is no longer possible to manage mySAP solutions without it. Using the new Maintenance Optimizer is the next step in increasing the efficiency of your SAP solution management.

  • For those planning to adopt mySAP Business Suite solutions far in the future: I strongly recommend you make SAP Solution Manager part of your overall IT strategy now. It is, without question, the most effective and efficient tool available to SAP customers to manage their SAP applications. It will provide important efficiencies to manage all facets of your applications' life cycles, and it will put you in good stead for future SAP offerings since no future SAP application can be installed or managed without SAP Solution Manager. The new Maintenance Optimizer, in turn, is the best tool to handle updates and patches for all other SAP versions and components.

SAP Solution Manager Capabilities
Usage Scenario Description
Implementation of SAP solutions Allows you to define process structures based on SAP standard content, define specifications, manage project documents, configure SAP components, manage testing, and transfer knowledge to end users
Solution monitoring Allows you to check the current status of systems and business processes, report on technical KPIs, and centrally control the execution of administrative tasks
Service desk Allows you to collect and optimize the handling of SAP-related support messages
Diagnostics Allows you to analyze the root cause of problems
Delivery of SAP services Allows you to order, deliver, document the results of, and track follow-up activities around SAP support services
Change request management Allows you to manage your SAP solution changes according to regulatory requirements
Upgrade of SAP solutions Allows you to completely manage functional upgrade projects (similar to implementation of SAP solutions)
Figure 1
SAP Solution Manager functionality allows you to manage your SAP applications through all phases of their life cycle

New Maintenance Optimizer Component Does the Work for You

SAP applications consist of multiple software components. For example, mySAP ERP 2005 contains more than 50 separate components, including those of SAP NetWeaver. Support packages are available for all these components, as are collections of support packages, called support package stacks.

If you install any SAP application, you usually deploy just a subset of the available components, depending on your requirements. And you only require those packages out of a support package stack that relate to the deployed components. Today, you have to select and deploy these support packages manually. This method is error-prone, since there is no guarantee for completeness.

Maintenance Optimizer in SAP Solution Manager knows which components are installed in your solution, so it can filter the required support packages and download them for you. This automation is integrated with approvals for the download and deployment of patches, with the deployment itself, with testing, and finally with reporting on all activities — Maintenance Optimizer governs your complete maintenance process.

Is This Goodbye to SAP Service Marketplace?

SAP Solution Manager governs a customer's maintenance identification, download, and implementation process. As most SAP customers know, SAP Service Marketplace ( acts as the general provider of support packages today. This means that customers are using two environments, making their maintenance work more error-prone than it would be if they had an end-to-end process in one environment.

SAP Solution Manager is so tightly interwoven with mySAP Business Suite 2005 and future product lines that it is no longer possible to manage mySAP solutions without it.

SAP Solution Manager runs in your environment, where it is populated with important information about the unique ways you have set up your SAP solutions. Your implementation teams, for example, can store blueprints and documentation in SAP Solution Manager. Quality teams can store test scripts there. Your support teams can then turn to SAP Solution Manager to find and resolve problem messages.

SAP Solution Manager knows what software components you use. It goes out to SAP Service Marketplace and reports back what patches are required, what service packages are available, and what legal updates are necessary. You will then know what SAP recommends and can run the complete process — from depiction, to download, to installation.

Today, you can go through this process without using Maintenance Optimizer, but you have to go to SAP Service Marketplace and drill through the information yourself, making sure you have correctly input what patch you're on, as well as any other updates. SAP Solution Manager now automates this process, making it safer and easier (see sidebar).

Is this goodbye to SAP Service Marketplace? No. SAP Service Marketplace and SAP Solution Manager are wholly complementary. They work together to create a greater SAP service infrastructure. Furthermore, customers not using SAP NetWeaver 2004s-based applications can, if they choose, continue to go to SAP Service Marketplace for patches and updates. SAP Service Marketplace will also still afford you access to SAP Developer Network, SAP Support Portal, SAP Partner Portal, SMB Portal, SAP Help Portal, SAP Community, and other resources.

The Evolution of SAP's Service and Support Infrastructure

In the past, SAP's service infrastructure was reactive; a customer would contact us if they had an issue. SAP support engineers would then review the message, knowing little about the customer's solution, its core and mission-critical business process, or its recent changes and fixes.

SAP has long felt that this interaction model was not adequate to effectively manage the challenges our customers face. We reshaped our support infrastructure and developed a new support application located close to the customer's SAP applications — SAP Solution Manager. This application management platform contains a tremendous amount of information about your SAP solution, its components, your mission-critical business processes, and more.

With Maintenance Optimizer, we have established a firm, bi-directional link between our frontend component, SAP Solution Manager, and the "shop front" of our backend components, SAP Service Marketplace. This link is an example of the technical foundation of collaboration. Having this infrastructure in place allows us to support you more proactively, more quickly, and with higher quality.

Upcoming architectures, including service-oriented architectures, will be even more distributed than today's architectures. Therefore, support has to put more focus on the end-to-end solution. A central platform within the architecture will be required to enable this. SAP Solution Manager will be the foundation of end-to-end support provided by SAP for enterprise service-oriented architectures.

Install Maintenance Optimizer in a Few Simple Steps

If you want to take advantage of the new features for software download in SAP Solution Manager and you do not yet have SAP Solution Manager installed, all you have to do is:

  • Set up SAP Solution Manager

  • Connect your systems to SAP Solution Manager

  • Connect SAP Solution Manager to SAP Support

  • Apply the package containing the Maintenance Optimizer enhancement

Although it is mandatory only for SAP NetWeaver 2004s and applications built on it, Maintenance Optimizer also works for earlier releases of SAP components.

If you are running mySAP Business Suite 2005 applications today, the first three steps have already been completed as part of your installation or upgrade project. You only need to perform the final step.

The scope and sizing of SAP Solution Manager depends upon what you want to do with it. If it is just for upgrades and patches, the scope can be relatively small; if SAP Solution Manager supports a service desk or other functions, it will require a bigger system. Either way, your SAP developers and administrators are equipped to implement and maintain SAP Solution Manager.

SAP Solution Manager 4.0 marks a very important step in the evolution of SAP service infrastructure in that SAP will deviate from its annual release cycle of SAP Solution Manager. Our expectation is that there will be no new release of SAP Solution Manager until 2009. Another indication of the maturity of SAP's infrastructure is that SAP shut down OSS after

SAP Solution Manager 4.0 became generally available, thus shifting the full load and responsibility of message handling onto both SAP Solution Manager and SAP Service Marketplace.

We expect there to be no new release of SAP Solution Manager until 2009.

Why Is SAP Doing This?

At SAP, we want to achieve two goals with this approach. First, we want Maintenance Optimizer to reduce risks in our customers' solutions. If an urgent patch is available that applies to your solution, you can proactively identify and deploy it. This will in turn help prevent many support problems.

Second, we want to ensure our customers are well prepared for future requirements. As Derek Prior, research director at AMR Research, told in August 2006, "There is more of a need to have a lifecycle support system in place now, before we really start deploying [enterprise SOA] in a big way."1 SAP already enables its customers to manage such architectures today, and SAP Solution Manager takes on the support role for enterprise service-oriented architectures.

Ever since the introduction of SAP Solution Manager, SAP has been continuously improving its service infrastructure (see Figure 2). We have been refining our model every year to efficiently address all phases of the solution life cycle. Maintenance Optimizer is the next logical step in this evolution.

Figure 2
Evolution of SAP Service Marketplace (SMP) and SAP Solution Manager (SolMan)

With Maintenance Optimizer, we have added the following value to your SAP solutions:

  • Transparency — The undisrupted maintenance process provides better traceability and best-in-class compliance features.

  • Standardization — Standardizing and streamlining support processes is necessary to prepare your support organization for the challenges of the future, such as the support of enterprise service-oriented architectures.

  • Integration — The complete patch process is done in Maintenance Optimizer. Administrators do not need to switch systems during the process.

  • Simplification — Maintenance Optimizer simplifies the management of patches for your support staff, helping to reduce maintenance costs.

  • Control — SAP Solution Manager governs the complete maintenance process for SAP applications. It ensures that you can find all relevant maintenance upgrades, and it documents what you have done with them.

SAP Solution Manager should be part of your SAP and IT strategy for years to come. Otherwise, you will not be able to benefit from our service infrastructure and the new generation of services it will allow us to deliver.

SAP Solution Manager Moves to the Forefront

Some SAP customers have viewed SAP Solution Manager merely as a transition tool. After they upgraded to mySAP ERP 2005 or another product, they uninstalled SAP Solution Manager. But these customers were ill-advised to do so; SAP Solution Manager is not just another tool — it's a central tool. It allows customers to build and run multicomponent, business-critical SAP applications effectively and efficiently. In addition, SAP Solution Manager provides customers with the best access to SAP services, support, best practices, and knowledge from SAP's worldwide pool of experts.

Maintenance Optimizer in SAP Solution Manager will revolutionize how you maintain your SAP solutions. SAP Solution Manager should be part of your SAP and IT strategy for years to come. Otherwise, you will not be able to benefit from our service infrastructure and the new generation of services it will allow us to deliver.

1 Robert Westervelt, "SAP taps Solution Manager for future maintenance update" (August 2006). Article is available at,289142,sid21_gci1207464,00.html.

Additional Resources

Articles from the January-March 2005 issue of SAP Insider (

  • "The #1 Pitfall to Avoid with Your Next Upgrade or Implementation" with Guenter Blattner and Matthias Melich

  • "Application Management, TCO, ROI, and the Tie That Binds Them" by Matthias Melich

  • "Looking for Ways Your IT Organization Can Contain Costs Without Sacrificing Services? An Introduction to SAP Solution Manager Tools" by Cay Rademann

  • "How SAP Solution Manager Can Smooth Your Next Upgrade Project" by Doreen Baseler

"SAP Solution Manager — 'Command Central' for Implementing Your mySAP Solutions…And Much More," by Matthias Melich in the September/October 2003 issue of SAP Professional Journal (

Dr. Matthias Melich studied English Literature at the University of Rochester (New York), and Mathematics and English Philology at the University of Cologne. He also received his Ph.D. in Computer-Based Language Learning at the University of Cologne in 1993. Since joining SAP in 1995, he has held various positions in product management for archiving, customizing, and implementation tools. In January 2005, Matthias took over the responsibility for the SAP Solution Manager Global Product Management team. Today, Matthias is Vice President of the Service and Support Infrastructure Product Management Team within the SAP Active Global Support organization. He can be reached at

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