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SAPPHIRE NOW represented a week of inspiration and to some extent madness for me as a SAP Mentor. Luckily I was invited to lunch with marcoliver.schaefer so we had the opportunity to catch up and talk about SAP Solution Manager going forward. On a side note I lost weight which was welcome due to the amount of walking (miles) going back and forth between the Hilton meeting room and the conference hall. I also spent an hour or so at the booths of SAP Solution Manager after being unleashed on the show floor :wink: .

So let's take a look at the novelties and pointers which SAP placed an emphasis on during the past week at SAPPHIRE NOW around SAP Solution Manager 7.2.

SAP Solution Manager mentioned in Dr. Hasso Plattner's keynote

During the keynote of Dr .Hasso Plattner, SAP Solution Manager was mentioned in the journey of customers toward S/4 HANA Enterprise Management. The SAP S/4 HANA Readiness Check Tool is a service that  can be delivered by SAP through SAP Solution Manager 7.2. The only thing I didn't really like that much is that this is currently a premium service that is being offered, meaning it's not available to everyone, free of charge right now. There might be a good reason for this, I haven't checked (yet), I can understand that it's relatively new and requires some experience from SAP side also to ensure it's well documented, running fine so basically in the beginning keeping some control on SAP side before putting it out there as a self service. It's mentioned in the SAP Press book that SAP wants to put this out there as a self service looking forward. I hope this happens as soon as possible so customers can run this as a self service to help them on their S/4 HANA journey.

Here are some of the relevant SAP notes if you are interested to get this running:

2267221 - Service Preparation for SAP S/4HANA Readiness Check (SAP S/4HANA on-premise edition 1511)

2211442 - Service Preparation for SAP S/4HANA Readiness Check (SAP S/4HANA Finance on-premise editio...

SAP Press book SAP Solution Manager for S/4 HANA

I was also honored to receive a hard copy of the SAP Press book SAP Solution Manager for SAP S/4HANA which was launched at SAPPHIRE NOW. I started reading it at the airport when I went back home, at least until a couple of other SAP Mentors on their way home joined in to wait at the gate :smile: . The book is worth reading in terms of getting a view on all the available options, how SAP sees everything fits together, how they see best practice in terms of modeling business process for example also in the solution documentation scenario in SAP Solution Manager 7.2. A recommended read in other words if you are into SAP Solution Manager. Even though I could be considered to be a millennial, a real books still feels different versus e-reading in terms of the reading experience so I preferred the hard copy.

Video interview at SAPPHIRE NOW

All in all the video turned out nicely, I need to do this more often and practice speaking about Solution Manager on the spot, in English (not my native language) with a camera in my face :wink: . I do stand by what I said here, I really believe SAP Solution Manager 7.2 is a big step forward. Thanks to Ben for setting this up.

More simplification and more extensive reporting capabilities

What I ask for in the video at the end is more simplification and more extensive reporting capabilities so I want to elaborate further on this here.

The simplification part is following SAP's strategy, looking at S/4 HANA Enterprise Management for example so simplifying the underlying database tables and how the product is build on top of the SAP HANA platform. It makes sense to reduce the complexity which is still there in the underlying technical infrastructure also when it comes to Technical Monitoring for example. Unfortunately, when SAP starting developing SAP Solution Manager 7.2 it was too early to get this done but now that's is almost there, we want SAP to work on the next version soon enough, right :wink: .

In terms of the more extensive reporting capabilities I would love to see connectivity options, best practice content (predelivered content and examples) that can be used to create custom reporting and dashboarding on top of BusinessObjects product family for example which also includes BusinessObjects cloud because that can make it possible to have a "boardroom of the future" with specific information for the management layer in the company.

Is that possible today? Yes but it's currently complicated and a struggle for many customers to understand which data resides where etc so it can definitely be improved to a large extent. On a side note, the capabilities inside SAP Solution Manager 7.2 have been improved to large extent in terms of having KPI tiles that can be leveraged and dashboards inside of the product.

Value engineering

Something I forgot to mention is that it would be a good idea if SAP spends time on value engineering examples of how leveraging SAP Solution Manager results into monetary benefits. Some scenario's have customers presentations in the SCN wiki space for example which boost best practice / findings / figures of savings or percentages but in general there is too little of all of this which makes it sometimes hard to build a positive business case. In order to use customer data, they would need to be measuring which often they are not doing in those specific area's and without references, you have nearly nothing to go on building the business case. Plenty of customers still argue around the value that SAP Solution Manager brings. It would be nice to be able to counter that more easily. There is some movement in this area already at SAP but I would like to see more.

SAP Solution Manager 7.2 SPS02 trial on Amazon AWS

The SAP Cloud Appliance Library now also has the latest ramp-up version available of SAP Solution Manager! This is the ideal way for customers to try out SAP Solution Manager 7.2 if they are not part of SAP ramp-up around SAP Solution Manager but still want to check out SAP Solution Manager 7.2 to prepare ahead of it's general availability release.

Focused Solutions (currently still running on top of SAP Solution Manager 7.1)

Something that caused dust waves in the SAP Partner ecosystem is the announcement of SAP to have Focused Solutions available for SAP Solution Manager. This was announced previously on SAP Community Network already here: Big News About SAP Solution Manager: Announcing Focused Solutions

The idea was discussed last year already with a number of experts on SAP Solution Manager in Walldorf and it was already controversial back then. I didn't want to make any statements in the video interview at SAPPHIRE NOW on the topic because I need to look into it further now that the solution is actually available. I'm not hiding this for my customers, I believe in telling them the truth, what it is, what it isn't, you can read about it in above blog post. The essence is that you get a predelivered / preconfigured Solution Manager system where it's not the intention that you start custom coding or customizing it beyond what is considered best practice to keep it easy to maintain, easy to innovate going forward. It's something in between the likes of on-premise and software as a service if you wish, topped off with some premium content (it also comes with a price tag) to deliver more insight to the customer.

I can see how large SAP Partners dislike the concept, especially if they have many resources in action to deliver SAP Solution Manager and SAP Solution Manager projects at customer side as this goes against their business really. On the other hand I also see a market for this kind of proposal in terms of having a quick way to deploy and leverage SAP Solution Manager with less (or lesser) hassle. This will not be the solution for all customers, like I said, there is a market for it which might be limited even. How big that market is, is hard to tell at this moment in time. Like I said before, I won't avoid this at all, my customers will have to make the decision, I will guide them through the different options and explain what's what and where pro / con arguments lie.

The future roadmap would point in the direction of Software As A Service as go to solution since that is the direction SAP is pushing in right now in terms of a cloud first strategy. I also definitely see interesting use cases of having scenario's available separately as a service on HANA Cloud Platform but this is futuristic still, running ahead of the current state of things.

End note

All in all, the future looks bright, I look forward to enabling customers to a larger extent leveraging SAP Solution Manager 7.2. It can definitely also help them on their journey to S/4 HANA Enterprise Management and Digital Transformation so it makes sense that SAP puts it in the spotlight in this sense. I was happy to see it featured in the keynote at SAPPHIRE NOW.

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