Does the Sol Man Give Benefit?

June 4, 2010

Once again, we have a flurry of posts/announcements about the apparently mysterious Solution Manager. Panaya starts things off with a survey of Sol Man customers, who apparently don’t get much (?) out of it and don’t understand it. My much-opinionated colleague, Dennis Howlett, publishes a post [I am mentioned, thank you, Dennis] accurately going back over the history and suggesting that SAP needs to do better. Tom Wailgum publishes a post asking why SAP’s account of Sol Man benefits and Panaya’s account are so different.

It’s all a little confusing, partly because Panaya’s survey isn’t well-structured and partly because SAP itself does as much as it can to throw oil into the waters. (This used to be a quite different metaphor.)

So let me try to clear things up. Here’s what is known to any analyst or user who does his homework. The Solution Manager is a big product, which tries to do lots of different things. Some it does OK or pretty well, which means SAP is right. Some it does poorly. Like most software products. Here is a rough, off-the-top-of-my-head list of things the Sol Man does.

1. The Sol Man downloads patches that come from SAP. It does this pretty well, and it had better, because it is supposedly the only way to get patches from SAP.

2. The Sol Man gives you a fairly straightforward way of installing those patches and some templates/test cases that are supposed to help you test them. This, too, works fairly well.

3. The Sol Man does some basic SAP system cleanup and monitoring. It finds code that’s not being used, frees up disk space, identifies code you are using that’s been superseded (possibly), etc., etc. This works; some people use it, some don’t.

4. The Sol Man does some SAP performance monitoring. (Jim Spath, an SAP mentor, is the expert on this aspect of the product.) Spath has not spent a lot of time praising the product and from what I’ve seen of the product, there’s a good reason for this. [Adddendum: Jim has also recently posted on the Sol Man’s abilities to help with cleanup.]

[Note on this last point. Performance monitoring is a very complex area, because SAP performance and other system performance are deeply interlinked. There are actually many products out there that do some kind of performance monitoring, usually not just confined to SAP, and many SAP customers already use these products. So no matter how good or bad the product, SAP’s entry into this area is going to be problematic in a way that patch installation is not going to be.]

5. The Sol Man provides some tools that should allow SAP to deliver better support because the SAP organization can use these tools to get a better understanding of what your whole system does. To get any benefit at all from this, however, you need to spend some time documenting your system for SAP. If a lot of customers didn’t do this or didn’t know about it, I wouldn’t be surprised. For more on the benefits that might accrue from this, talk to my favorite Australian SAP Mentor, Tony de Thomassis.

6. The Sol Man can help you improve your business processes, with help from SAP, as long as you first document your business processes. This help could take various forms. The Sol Man could help eliminate redundant customizations, find process bottlenecks that SAP upgrades can fix, do root cause analysis of performance issues, etc., etc. Could this benefit you? If you ask Tony, the answer is “Yes,” but bear in mind that this a lot of work.

Now how do I know all this, especially what works and what doesn’t? Well, I didn’t do anything special. To find out what the Sol Man does, I went to a session at Sapphire 2009 (SapphireThen?) and then went to a really interesting session at the Influencer Summit. To find out about the benefit, I mostly relied on studies that SAP and SUGEN did last year, whose results were described at the summit. I’ve published this in a couple of blog posts, and both Jim and Tony have done much more than I to get the word out.

I don’t fault Panaya or Dennis or Tom for not having done this research. Why should they? But I do think that SAP could have done one thing very easily that would have helped everyone involved. Publish that study they told us about at the Influencer Summit. In it, the benefits are laid out fairly clearly and accurately. And then Dennis and Tom and Panaya and I could start arguing about how much those benefits amount to and what could/should be done to improve them.


8 Responses to “Does the Sol Man Give Benefit?”

  1. Thanks David – if you check through the post, I have linked to what SAP considers SolMan benefits. My point is about uptake and value so your last point about communication is well made. The problem is that SAP is very good at muffing these issues. I see it across almost all LOB.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jon Reed, The Xcelsius Gurus. The Xcelsius Gurus said: RT @jonerp: Reading: one of smartest voices on SAP SolMan, @toppundit: "Does the Sol Man Give Benefit?" […]

  3. Soumen Says:

    Hi David,

    I am since one year gradually implementing Solution Manager in our landscape. We did the automatic license application, EWA, a little bit of monitoring and currently going through the phases of TAO (although I have a doubt how much the things can cater the heavily customized landscape.

    But I am really looking for garbage cleaning tool. Can you point out some HOW-TO references on this. Currently I am doing manually, and in our upgrade it showed up as a big agenda. Apart from unused programs does SOLMAN also points out unused tables and indexes?


  4. toppundit Says:

    I don’t know the answer, but I’ll try to find out. I base my comments on a very significant improvement in the SUGEN KPI Benchmark 10, entitled “Storage Utilization and Growth Rate,” where the metric is the “average growth rate in storage utilization” per quarter. Is it possible that the Sol Man can provide benefit in this area without doing some kind of garbage collection?

  5. Lori Sanders Says:

    Hi Soumen, the Custom Development Management Cockpit can help identify unused tables. It’s fairly new functionality, however, and I’m not sure of its rate of adoption. You might want to give it a shot if you’re on SolMan EhP1 (SP18 or higher).

  6. […] Once again, we have a flurry of posts/announcements about the apparently mysterious Solution Manager. Panaya starts things off with a survey of Sol Man customers, who apparently don't get much (?) out of it and don't understand it. My much-opinionated colleague, Dennis Howlett, publishes a post [I am mentioned, thank you, Dennis] accurately going back over the history and suggesting that SAP needs to do better. Tom Wailgum publishes a post asking … Read More […]

  7. toppundit Says:

    Here’s another answer for soumen, from Jürgen Mahler of SAP.

    Yes of course. Within the Custom Development Management Cockpit, especially the Clearing analysis, the function is given:

    Determine Empty Databases


    In this activity, you determine number of entries in all the custom tables in the statistics system. This makes it possible to identify the tables that have no, or just a few, entries and are likely to be not in use.

    This information is important because unnecessary database tables in a production system take up valuable disk space, can cause unnecessary work and have a negative impact on system performance. It is beneficial to analyze the empty database tables found in this step and delete the ones that are really not in use.

    Please consider that the numbers of tables analyzed for empty database and tables that have no data given in the application log refers to all the Customer tables in the Statistic system irrespective of the initial selection by the Customer in activity “determine customer objects”.

    A list of the found custom tables, and their entries, is provided in the Display Results activity.

    The program determines the number of entries in all custom tables (client-dependent as well as cross-client) in all statistics systems and updates table CNVCDMCCA_OBJS (in all statistics systems) accordingly.

    Execute the function and monitor its progress. When the program has finished, check the log.

  8. […] Not that it isn’t debated in the blogosphere; a few months back, there was a lively debate on the “apparently mysterious” tool and whether it actually delivered benefits, summed up and analyzed well here by David Dobrin. […]

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