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Configuration Validation Reporting Made Easy

by Sapna Modi, SAP Practice Unit & Key Accounts Automation Champion, L&T Infotech Ltd (LTI)

July 1, 2016

Configuration validation is a reporting utility that helps you know the technical configuration of any SAP system either in flat-list values or in a comparison. The comparison of a group of systems against a target reference system or against predefined configuration values is the crux of the configuration validation utility.


Using configuration validation you can execute reports on the status of the technical configuration of different system landscapes in multiple areas such as security, databases, transports, operating systems (OSs), kernels, notes, software packages, and other technical configuration requirements. It helps to address management questions about technical configuration consistency across the landscape and the scope of cleaning to make systems consistent, if required.

Apart from the above broad areas, configuration validation also can provide specific reports on instances. This instance type can be understood from the configuration stores present in the configuration validation utility. There are multiple types of configuration stores with unique properties. In simple terms, a configuration store is a container having multiple parameters against a given area of technical configuration. These technical parameters have values that are fetched from respective managed systems in Solution Manager in a scheduled manner via a root cause analysis setup. You can either draw a report on all the parameters of a configuration store or you can select a few required parameters in the report outcome.

Configuration Validation Setup Requirements

The configuration validation utility requires a managed system configuration setup in Solution Manager of all the required systems for which you want to create and compare reports. Setup of diagnostic agents is required on both the managed system as well as in Solution Manager. These diagnostic agents fetch data from the different configuration stores from the managed system at a scheduled time and push it to Solution Manager. This is the data that is available for configuration validation reporting.

Within the configuration validation utility, the following steps are required for reporting purposes:

  1. Target system creation (a real system reference or a virtual system reference)
  2. Systems comparison list creation (a list of systems under comparison against the target reference system)
  3. Custom or standard report execution
Configuration Validation Usage Pattern

You can use configuration validation in a couple of ways. I focus on configuration validation usage primarily from a support and project implementation point of view. Different usage patterns are explained in Table 1.

When

How

What

Why (benefit)

During support and maintenance

Landscape system comparisons. Each system can be compared with the rest of the systems in a given landscape. This can also be done in a cross-system landscape of the same system type.

To know the differences between systems and the inconsistent values for management reporting

To ensure business continuity

During an SAP implementation project

Landscape system comparisons among each other and with reference to testing systems

To know the differences in systems that may be the reason for hurdles in development, testing, or management reporting

To ensure smooth project realization, especially during the system integration test and the business acceptance test

At the start of an OS/database or security audit as preparation activity

Cross-landscape system comparisons with reference to target values

To know the gaps that need attention before an audit

To enable successful audit process decision making

As part of a strategic initiative to target a particular SAP OS/ database release version or security norms

Cross-landscape system comparisons among each other and with reference to target values

To know the differences of the entire landscape versus a virtual target landscape and to see the impact of the differences and the effort needed to meet the required target values

To prioritize and make informed decisions in strategy

Table 1
Use of configuration valuation for project implementation and support

Implementing Configuration Validation

Following are the steps to take to implement the reporting functionality of configuration validation.

Configuration Validation Utility Home Screen

In this section, I show how to navigate to the configuration validation utility home screen from the Solution Manager work center.

Step 1. Log on to the Solution Manager system. Go to transaction SM_WORKCENTER (Figure 1). Press Enter.


Figure 1
SAP Easy Access Screen

Step 2. A web browser (Figure 2) opens with all the authorized work centers for the logged-in user ID. Click the Root Cause Analysis tab. Multiple functionalities are listed under the Root Cause Analysis category on the right. Click the Configuration Validation option.


Figure 2
Choose the Configuration Validation option

Step 3. A window section for configuration validation opens in the right panel (Figure 3). Configuration Validation has four distinct sections under it, which are distributed over four tabs—Report Execution, Target System Maintenance, Comparison List Maintenance, and Trend Analysis.


Figure 3
Configuration Validation utility home screen

Target System Maintenance

Next you have to maintain the target system. To do so follow these steps.

Step 1. Go to the Target System Maintenance tab (Figure 4) to create a reference system against which the comparison report is drawn. In the Target System Maintenance tab, there are two options—Create and Edit. The Create option is to create a reference target system and the Edit option is to edit it.


Figure 4
Target System Maintenance screen

Step 2. To create a reference target system, decide which system you want to make as the reference. This decision is driven by what you want to see in the report outcome or what kinds of decisions you want to take on report outcomes. There are multiple combinations of reports that can be drawn.

For example, you can compare the SAP ERP Central Component (ECC) development system with the rest of the landscape, the production system in ECC with the rest of the landscape, or the production system in ECC with the ECC landscape of cross-business units.

You can also prepare the target reference system for a given instance of a real system. For example, you can compare one of the development application servers in ECC with the rest of the instances of the same system, the central production instance in ECC with the central instance of the quality system in ECC, or the development database server in ECC with the rest of the database servers in the ECC landscape of the same business or cross-business units.

You can also create a virtual reference target system with some predefined configuration store parameters. To do so, you need to copy the desired real system as the target system and then modify its configuration store parameters per your requirements.

Step 3. Click the Create button in the Target System Maintenance tab as shown in Figure 5. To create a reference system, click the Display all button. It displays all the SAP systems in the Select Source Systems block at the bottom. These are the systems connected in Solution Manager and configured for root cause analysis.


Figure 5
Display all the Solution Manager connected managed systems

Step 4. Filter on the system, which acts as the source reference for the virtual target system that is created in this step. Enter the filter value of the system, as shown in Figure 6, where I entered D in the highlighted block.


Figure 6
Select the source reference system

Step 5. Selecting the system that is filtered in the result from the bottom left block takes you to Figure 7. On the right side of Figure 7 you see all the configuration stores associated with this type of system. Additional details such as instances of the selected system in the Host column are displayed wherever relevant. (No values exist in this example.)


Figure 7
Create the target system

You can create the target reference system with some selected configuration stores as well, if needed. You might need to do that for an area-specific report, such as a report with only hardware-related output. However, in this step I didn’t select any configuration stores. I explain area-specific configuration-based reporting in the “Custom Reports” section. Click the Create empty button to create a target reference system without the explicit selection of any of the configuration stores at this moment. This opens the pop-up window shown in Figure 8.


Figure 8
Provide a name and description for the target system

Step 6. Provide the target system ID with a name and description in the pop-up. Click the Save button.

Step 7. The system then shows the ABAP_NOTES store status as OK (Figure 9). This is the default store assigned to the newly created target system. Click the Close button to close the pop-up and to create the target system.


Figure 9
Target system created with a default store

Step 8. In case you want to see or to edit the newly created target system, click the Edit button of the Target System Maintenance tab shown in Figure 10. This is an optional step.


Figure 10
The edit screen for target system maintenance

Step 9. Enter the system ID (Long SID) of the target system for search and press Enter. The result is displayed in the bottom panel of Figure 10. You can make changes to this system (e.g., you can change the attributes of the target system or add or remove configuration stores from this system). That allows you to create a report on a specific area if required. Select only that area-specific store for reporting.

To edit the configuration stores, select the target system from the result (e.g., TARG_DEV) and click the add/remove stores from target system icon (highlighted in Figure 10).

Step 10. A pop-up appears with the available configuration stores and the configuration stores that are present in the selected target system (Figure 11). Select appropriately and click the Add button to add new configuration stores.


Figure 11
Select the configuration stores

To delete already added configuration stores, select them by selecting the line and clicking the delete bin icon. In this case, you don’t intend to change anything, so click the Close button to close this pop-up without any modification.

See the sidebar “Target Reference System with Selected Parameters and Custom Values” at the end of the article.

Comparison List Maintenance

Comparison list maintenance helps to create a group of systems that are compared against a target reference system. The target reference system can either be real, with existing technical configuration values, or a virtual system with custom-defined technical configuration values. In the case of a comparison list, all the systems are real. They are compared against their existing setup of technical configuration in different areas. Cross-landscape systems can also be selected in this group for comparison. For example, a project landscape and a maintenance landscape can be grouped together for comparison against their common production environment.

Step 1. Go to the Comparison List Maintenance tab to create the group of systems you want to compare during reporting. This comparison is against a target reference system. This tab is relatively simple with Create, Edit, and Delete buttons for a comparison list as shown in Figure 12. The System list button provides the option of seeing all the systems that are added to the list.


Figure 12
Comparison List Maintenance screen view

Step 2. Click the Comparison List Maintenance tab and then the Create button to go to Figure 13. Then click the Static Compare List option to create a new list, which opens the pop-up in Figure 14.


Figure 13
Create a new list


Figure 14
Save the list

Step 3. Provide a list name and description in the pop-up. Also, select all the required systems one by one from the filter of Technical System(s) block at the bottom. After selection of all the required systems, click the Save button to save the list.

Step 4. In the screen that opens (Figure 15), select the newly created list (TARG_LST) and click the System list button to see all the systems that are added to the list. In the bottom panel of the figure, all the systems added to the list are shown.


Figure 15
View the systems added to the list

Step 5. The system list is ready. Unlike target system maintenance, comparison list maintenance has no option to create a list by selecting a specific server of a given system (e.g., a comparison list of only database servers of the ECC landscape or a comparison list of only non-central instances of an ECC landscape). The selection option for Host or Instance Type is not available in this case.

Report Execution (Step-by-Step)

There are two types of reports, standard and custom. The standard reports delivered by SAP are the flat-list values report and the comparison report. Custom reports also are divided into flat-list values reports and comparison reports. Click the Report Execution tab and then the Report Directory section to see both types of reports (Figure 16).  


Figure 16
The Report Directory section

Flat-List Values Reports

Following are the steps to implement flat-list values reports. Flat-list values reports are also called Single Store Reports in the Reporting section of the configuration validation screen. This type of report shows flat values for a given system or a list of systems for the selected configuration store (e.g., SAP Kernel, ABAP Software Level, and ABAP Packages).

Step 1. Follow menu path Report Execution > Report Directory > Single Store Report to go to Figure 17. The bottom panel displays the report selection criteria.


Figure 17
Single store report execution with a selection screen

Step 2. Multiple selection criteria are present at the bottom of Figure 17. Click one of the Reporting Theme options from the dropdown to go to Figure 18, where you see the values listed. Enter SAP Kernel in the Reporting Theme field and TARG_LST in the Comparison List field, which is selected from the search help in Figure 18. The arrow icon on the right of the screen is the search help to select the comparison list. Click the Start Report button to execute this report.


Figure 18
Single store report execution with selection screen inputs

Step 3. This report fetches the results based on the data and selection criteria. The output is displayed as shown in Figure 19.


Figure 19
Flat-list report output

Step 4. It is possible to customize this report. You can add or remove columns or rows from the report output. To do so, click the Navigation Block option on the left side of the report outcome, which takes you to Figure 20.


Figure 20
Flat-list report output with navigation block for customization

Step 5. There are distinct sections for Rows and Columns in this block. They represent the fields that are present in the report outcome. In the Rows’ section, the possible options for each field are drilldown in rows, drilldown in columns, and select filter value. There are icons for these options. The expansion sign on an icon means that the option is active in the report outcome. See all the fields in the Rows section of the Navigation Block in Figure 20. Their first icon is expanded.

Step 6. To remove a column from the report outcome, click the expanded icon of that column title from the Navigation Block in the Rows’ section. The Client item under Free Characteristics in Figure 21, which is boxed, is the button to remove the column with its values in the output. It is called remove drilldown in rows. In this case, to remove the Last Check column from the outcome, click the expanded icon of the remove drilldown in rows section of the Navigation Block as shown in Figure 20. It is removed and the outcome does not have this column anymore, as shown in Figure 21.


Figure 21
21 Report output without Last Check column

Step 7. Similarly, to add a new column (Client), as shown in Figure 22, click its drilldown in the rows icon from the Free Characteristics section (e.g., add Client to this report outcome) in the earlier step in Figure 21. Once this is added, the Client field appears in the Rows section, as shown in Figure 22.


Figure 22
Report output with the Client column added

Step 8. Once all such required fields are either added or removed from the report, its format can be saved for future use. To do so, ensure that all the required fields are mapped in the report.

Then click the Save View button. In the next screen (Figure 23), provide the name of the view for future reference (Kernel Flat List in this example) and click the Save button.


Figure 23
Name the view for customized report output

Step 9. After you save it, this option appears in the Query View Selection drop-down on the report outcome page on the left side (Figure 24). In the future, whenever this report is executed, just select this view from the view menu. The system automatically drafts the report outcome in the desired format, which is saved in this view.


Figure 24
Tailored report output due to custom view selection

Step 10. A configuration validation report can be analyzed online when end users, such as the Basis, hardware, technical, or audit preparation teams, are trying to look for a few selected lines of outcome. You can use a value filter from the Navigation Block for each field of selection to narrow the result set. However, in the case of management reporting when dashboards are published in a predefined format, you have to download the configuration validation report for offline assessment. Also, when the results’ set is huge, you need to download it for further analysis and decision making.

Step 11. To download a report, right-click any of the column titles in the report. From the context menu, select the option Export As…  > CSV File, as shown in Figure 25. Avoid using the MS Excel 2000 File – second export option in the dropdown as shown in Figure 25 because it doesn’t download values in each row and column. Rather the row data, for the unique data value of a column, is shown only on the first row. The rest of the rows are blank for that same column value. With such a data download, you can’t perform analysis using either data filters or pivots in Excel. The CSV file also opens in MS Excel although it involves considerable manual cleaning and formatting work.


Figure 25
Select the CSV File report download option

Step 12. A pop-up at the bottom of the screen appears with the options of Open/Save (not shown). Save this file and open it. It’s in comma separated values (CSV) format, which opens in Microsoft Excel. The advantage with CSV is that every column has data in each row.

While in the Microsoft Excel 2000 File download option shown in Figure 25, not each column has a value. Wherever the cell merging is shown on the configuration validation outcome, the same appears in Excel with a blank column output.

Although it is in CSV format, considerable cleaning is needed in this format of the report. Different Excel options can be used to clear this report (e.g., “Text to Column delimited by delimiter”). Once the report is in the required form, you can perform further analysis.

Comparison Reports

Unlike the flat-list values report for one or many systems, a comparison report draws a report outcome of all systems under comparison against a reference system. These systems under comparison are grouped together in a comparison list. There are predefined areas for which standard SAP reports are available. They are all categorized under Transport Reports. This section is user friendly with a brief description about each report on its selection.

Step 1. These reports are present in Report Execution > Report Directory as well as in Report Execution > Transport Reports (Figure 26).


Figure 26
The Report Directory of SAP-delivered transport reports

Step 2. Select the Software Level Reporting report in Figure 26 and its selection screen appears in the bottom panel, as shown in Figure 27. From the search help, select System ID, which is the target reference system against whose values the comparison happens, such as on SAP Notes. Also from the search help, select Comparison List, which is a group of the systems whose values you want to compare against the target reference system. Click the Start Report button.


Figure 27
A report execution from predefined SAP reports

Step 3. The system then displays the report outcome (Figure 28).


Figure 28
The display of the report outcome

Step 4. As mentioned in the section on flat-list values’ reports, format the report with the necessary rows and columns and save the report view.

(Note: Most of the reports have common columns. Below are the meanings of a few key column titles for quick reference.

  • System: This is the host system that you are comparing with a target reference system
  • Instance: The system you are comparing with a target reference system
  • Instance Type: The system instance you are comparing with a target reference system instance
  • Instance Name: The name of the host system that you are comparing with some target reference system
  • Config Item Value: The value of the configuration item from the host system
  • Value of Target System: The value of the configuration item from the reference target system, against which the rest of the systems are compared
  • Reference System: The target reference system, against which the rest of the systems are compared)
Custom Reports

Many SAP predefined reports are available. However, custom reports may be required for a specific purpose. Such reports can be created and saved in bookmarks or in a report directory for regular use. You can use custom reports for all the given configuration stores.

Custom Flat-List Values’ Report

This reporting type can be used for the reporting requirements you can’t meet with standard reports of flat-list values’ outcomes. Before a custom report is made, ensure that no standard report serves the same purpose.

Step 1. To develop a custom report for the flat list of values, go to Report Execution > Report Directory > Create New, which takes you to Figure 29.


Figure 29
Provide a report name and description

Step 2. A report creation screen appears in the bottom panel (Figure 29). Provide a report name and description.

Step 3. Now select the Validation Template field, which is a mandatory field. It is this field that differentiates a flat-list report outcome versus a comparison report outcome. Click the search help icon for Validation Template. It opens a pop-up where you select the template for the flat-list outcome (Figure 30).


Figure 30
Select a template for a report (in this case, a flat-list report)

Click the Transfer button to use this template for a custom report, which takes you to Figure 31.


Figure 31
Custom report selection screen with values for execution

Step 4. Now select the target reference system under the Select Reference System section and the comparison system under the Systems to be compared section. The comparison system can be one system or a group of systems that are combined in a comparison list. In the case of a flat-list values report, there is no comparison so the comparison system list is not applicable. You leverage this list in the “Custom Comparison Report” section.

Step 5. Configuration store selection is an important selection in the case of a target reference system. This is the input that decides the area of comparison and outcome. To select it, click the search help icon of Config Stores: under the Select Reference System section, which takes you to Figure 32. Select the configuration store related to ABAP_Notes. Click the Transfer Stores button to include the ABAP Notes configuration store in the report for execution in this report.


Figure 32
Configuration store selection for report execution

Step 7. If the required configuration stores are not shown in the search help list for a given instance of the target system (e.g., central and dialog), then you have to create the target reference system in the Target System Maintenance section. To find out if a store is available, search for the required configuration store for the given instance of the system.

For example, for the filter  *hardware*, a related configuration store is not available in the Config Stores search help option of custom report creation, as shown in Figure 33. You can see a search item I entered. If a hardware-related configuration store had been in this listing then that would be in the search result. As it doesn’t exist, the table is empty in Figure 33.


Figure 33
Configuration store is not available in this selection screen for the *hardware* filter

To report on hardware parameters, you have to create its target system with the required configuration store. Go to the Target System Maintenance tab. For the same target reference system, select *hardware* from the group in this case, as shown in Figure 34.


Figure 34
Hardware configuration store selection

Step 9. Going back to my example custom report in Figure 31, click the save icon to save the report in the custom report directory as shown in Figure 35. Click the Start Report button to execute the report.


Figure 35
Custom report selection screen with values for execution

Step 10. Upon execution, the report selection screen appears again (Figure 36). Check the inputs and click the Execute button for report execution.


Figure 36
Check the inputs and execute them

Step 11. The report outcome is displayed with a flat list of the outcome (Figure 37). For each configuration item, a value from each selected system is listed. As noted in the section on standard flat-list values reports, format the report per your requirements.


Figure 37
Custom report output of flat-list values

Custom Comparison Report

In order to have a comparison report, I’m using the same example of a custom report—a flat-list values report.

Step 1. Select the report from the custom directory (Figure 38).


Figure 38
Select a custom report

Step 2. The report selection screen appears in the bottom panel (Figure 39). To create a comparison report, the Validation Template selection needs to be of the relevant type (i.e., non-compliant). To select a non-compliant comparison report, click the search help icon of the Validation Template in the General Data section.


Figure 39
Selection screen for custom report execution

A non-compliant report means that the value of the target reference system doesn’t match with the value of the comparison systems. If the values match then it is called a compliant report. When a template of a non-compliant report is selected for the outcome, only the non-compliant values are shown in the result. This means that in the source and target comparison systems, a given configuration item exists but has different values. Hence the report outcome is not compliant with the target system.

Step 3. After you click the Validation Template search help, from the popup select the validation template of the non-compliant report and the Operator Validation icon as shown in Figure 40. Click the Transfer button so that this operator validation template is passed on to the report. This report type with the operator validation makes this report a comparison report. In the outcome, only non-compliant values of compared systems are shown.


Figure 40
Report template for execution (non-compliant configuration items, in this case)

Step 4. Save the report by clicking the save icon in Figure 39 and execute it using the Start Report button as shown in Figure 39. (When the popup shown in Figure 40 closes, it takes you back to Figure 39.)

Step 5. A selection screen appears as shown in Figure 41. Review it for valid data inputs via the Check button and then click the Execute button.


Figure 41
Selection screen at the time of report execution

Step 6. The report outcome is displayed (Figure 42). To change the output (e.g., if you need both compliant and non-compliant values) use the Navigation Block > Compliance filter criteria. Format the report as required with the addition or removal of fields. Save its format as a report view for future reference. This is mentioned in detail above in the section on standard flat-list values reports.


Figure 42
Report outcome with the Save View: and Navigation Block: options

Target Reference System with Selected Parameters and Custom Values

In this example, all the parameters are considered for the selected configuration store by default. However, you can select fewer parameters if required. That happens in the Target System Maintenance tab – Edit option, as shown in Figure A, when you select the configuration store name ABAP_NOTES in the Config Store of Target System section. After the selection, the list of parameters with their values from the selected managed system is displayed in the bottom of the screen as shown in Figure A.


Figure A
Create a virtual target system with custom changes

From this list of parameters (in this example, one parameter is shown in the section Target system: TARG_DEV / Store Name: ABAP_NOTES in Figure A) you can select or deselect the check box at the start of this parameter. Then you can either delete the selected or delete the unselected check boxes of parameters from the bin icons in Figure A. The Save button is enabled after the changes are made in the list of parameters. You then can save the Target System. These parameters will be considered for reporting purposes in comparison or flat-list outcomes.

There is also a provision for changing the default values and operators of the parameter fields with custom values, as shown in the bottom part of Figure B.


Figure B
Customization of the configuration store on parameters selection and custom field values

These values are generally based on audit requirements or as part of a strategic decision by an organization. Once the values are changed, they can be saved by clicking the Apply Changes button and then clicking the Save button.

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Sapna Modi

Sapna N. Modi has 13+ years of experience in the software industry including SAP software in the areas of solution architecture, consulting, presales, and project management. Sapna has multiple SAP and non-SAP certifications. She is an integral part of the team in setting up the SAP Solution Manager practice at L&T Infotech (www.lntinfotech.com) and has participated in consulting and advisory roles for multiple projects. She has global exposure with experience in the US, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, and Kuwait. She is instrumental in and is dedicated to an extreme automation initiative of SAP projects across verticals at L&T Infotech (LTI). Her goal is to accomplish automation-driven efficient operations and to formulate an automation platform for optimized TCO for customers as well as for her organization. Her focus is on innovation to leverage SAP products and non-SAP products involving Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Machine Learning (ML) to help customers standardize their portfolio so that it is simplified, automation ready, and able to easily migrate to the SAP S/4HANA platform.



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