In a recent post, I mentioned how there was a repeated refrain in the Solution Manager space at our SAPinsider IT 2011 event, "ERP for IT". The phrase was a condensed way for SAP to communicate that IT can get the same benefits out of Solution Manager that the business side achieves with ERP systems.
At TechEd, I haven't heard that phrase (though I admit, in the haze of HANA coverage early on I missed quite a few SolMan sessions). I have, however, heard two other terms that have been interesting:
1. Orchestration. I've seem many slides talking about how to "orchestrate your system", or "orchestrate ALM". I think it's an effective term, given the kind of coordination required not only within the Solution Manager system, but within the organization to truly get the most out of its capabilities.
2. Run SAP like a factory. In some ways, this seems like the opposite idea, but I think it's actually complementary in a way. Orchestrating implies some kind of elegance, while a factory is all production. I hear "factory", I think machines, robots, Henry Ford, coallation.
There is a common thread, though, and it's efficiency. Orchestration is the harmonization of existing assets; effective factories thrive on efficiency.
Sorry to get all English major-y on you there, but sometimes it's easy to get caught up in buzzwords without thinking about what they mean. And I think breaking down these two phrases in particular help tell you what SAP thinks of Solution Manager going forward. (Further, they probably speak to IT folks better than "ERP for IT", anyway; it's probably too easy to conflate "ERP" with "business" at this point.)
There's reason for SAP to try to get the buzzwords just right: SolMan 7.1 seems to be getting traction with those who use it, so getting the word out to others is crucial. One session on 7.1 upgrades described the efforts of the 120 customers who have taken the plunge thus far, and their reaction had been quite positive (then again, the session was given by SAP; what else are they going to say?). If I heard correctly, it sounded like almost half of the implementations occurred basically flawlessly, while the rest had issues that were quite manageable.
One of the more interesting features I heard about was System Recommendations, which was new with 7.0 SP26, but is emphasized more with 7.1. Part of the Change Management Work Center, System Recommendations shows relevant notes and patches for your systems, helping you keep up to date and making sure your system is working at maximum efficiency. With a few simple clicks, the system can automatically analyze -- based on the actual status of your system as well as the applied notes and functionalities -- whether you are in danger of having anything run suboptimally, whether that means potential security issues or merely a feature that you're missing out on.
You might even say it helps orchestrate your functionalities, allowing you to run SAP like a factory . (See what I did there?)