Sapdup Blogging about SAP

24Feb/092

SAP Enterprise Support – Bigger than Jesus

The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necesarily represent those of the authors employer.

Ok, so that title isn't strictly accurate, but after all the claims SAP have been making recently about SAP Enterprise Support, I wouldn't be surprised if this was the next one.

In the last six months, organisations running SAP have been faced with a choice, and it's certainly not the choice between Standard and Enterprise Support.

It's the decision between copping the maintenance increases and making the most of it, and trying to resist.

I imagine that throughout the world, serious discussions are being had about Enterprise Support, especially in user groups. Organisations cosidering cancelling their support contracts, users combining together to not pay their maintenance invoices and thousands of frustrated and angry letters to SAP.

Good luck to you if you're going down the line of fighting SAP, but in this post I will talk about a few key wins from Enterprise Support (IMO).

Service Level Agreements

In my experience, the performance of the SAP team in responding to support messages has been hit and miss.  However under Enterprise Support there are now Service Level Agreements backed up by real penalities for non conformance.  Below are the SLA's:

Priority
Description
Initial Response Time
Corrective Action[1]
Very High
· Complete System Outage
· Malfunction of central component of SAP
· Top issues
1 hour (7*24)
4 hours (7*24)
High
· Serious business impact caused by normal business transactions malfunctioning
4 hours

-


Medium
· Normal business transactions are impacted causing some business impact.
-

-

-

-

-
Low
· Impact to normal business transactions with minimal business impact
- -


[1] A solution, workaround or an action plan

So...penalties.  First the exclusions:

  • SAP is successful if 95% of occurences fall within the SLA's
  • Your organisation must raise at least 20 messages during a calendar quarter. Note: I'm unclear if this 20 is of all priorities or just very high and high count.

So if SAP miss their 95% measure across a quarter where you've raised at least 20 messages you can claim a 0.25% credit for each failure up to a maximum of 5%.

0.25% of what I hear you asking?  From my interpretation, it's 0.25% of your maintenance cost for that quarter.  So if you get your maintenance invoice annually, you can estimate the credit by dividing it by four and then multiplying it by 0.0025.

So if my maintenance invoice last year was US$10m, then my quarterly cost would be $2.5m and my maximum SLA credit would be $125,000 and each failure would get me a credit of $6250.

Not exactly ground breaking amounts of money, but certainly worth keeping an eye on.

Note: This penalty figure does not seem to be based from your license fees (like the maintenance) so the 5% maximum penalty is not a chance to recover the 5% uplift in maintenance (from 22% back to 17% as I at first thought it was).

Solution Manager

Enterprise Edition


Solution Manager doesn't really seem to have gone forward much since I first saw it back in 2004.  I haven't seen an organisation that is using even 50% of the functionality that suposedly lives there, but maybe Enterprise Support will change that.

Until I see Solution Manager Enterprise Edition and have a chance to evaluate some of SAP's claims about new functionality living there, then this section can only be a reprint of a subset of SAP's marketing claims.

Have said that, I'm pretty excited about:

  • ProductivityPak (from RWD) and Quality Center integration with Solution Manager.  My employer uses both PP and QC, so the opportunity to deploy training material straight from Solution Manager and automated testing to QC would be a big win for us.
  • Enhanced support via the EarlyWatch reports.  There is no change to the EarlyWatch reports currently available, but we are told that we will have greater "free" support in implementing solutions proposed in these reports.
  • End-to-End Trace Analysis.  This will allow us to run a trace on a particular process from the backend all the way through to the users browser.  Since we have an integrated system with multiple systems, connected via XI and deployed over the portal, this will be very useful for us.  This is expected later in 2009.
  • End-to-End User Experience Monitoring.  This solution will allow us to benchmark a certain process on a given machine, then deploy it to a given location.  We can then run this process at the given location to determine whether there are any performance issues.  This will be great for us, since we have a particular office that often reports performance issues, but currently we have no way to measure this.  This is also expected later in 2009.

Support Advisory Center


For me, the Support Advisory Center is essentially one person, sitting in Sydney, Australia who I can call or email with my concerns or questions about Enterprise Support.  This person is also an escalation point.

Many are the times that I've had a 'very high' message sitting with SAP and no one to call and no way to escalate it.  Hopefully the existance of the Support Advisory Center will mean an end to this.

This will also be the person I address my SLA non-conformance discussions to.

Extended Maintenance


With the new extended maintenance changes, "your mileage will vary".

So, in brief, they're going from a 5-1-2 maintenance structure to a 7-2 structure.

The numbers work out that the old 5-1-2 structure would still be cheaper, despite the shorter period of mainstream maintenance because of the high rate under the new structure.

The gain here is if you have a business "rule" about upgrading before you get out of mainstream maintenance.  If this is the case, the new structure gives you an extra two years.  Given the way SAP develop products, this two years would be vital to deploying a stable and "go-forward" product.

So in conclusion, if I was paying the bills, I don't think the things above would make me feel any less sick, but if you're trying to write a report about the benefits of Enterprise Support, then it should at least have something in it.



Comments (2) Trackbacks (2)
  1. Hi Pete, I am commenting on the ‘use case’ you described for SAP’s future release of an end-to-end user experience monitoring product. If you want to know the real response times being experienced by end-users in remote locations, SAP is offering a better-fit product right now. It’s called SAP User Experience Manager (SAP UEM) by Knoa. There are significant differences between the SAP UEM product and the e2e monitoring product, including:
    — the e2e product uses synthetic transactions which are at best a proxy for real-end user experience; UEM measures actual end-user response times
    — your use case for the e2e product is reactive. UEM allows you to be proactive
    — e2e requires scripting for the limited set of transactions you wish to monitor. UEM montiors all transactions with no set-up or maintenance
    — Since e2e uses a script to simulate a real transaction, it will not see real response time issues that are caused by incorrect user behavior (which is at least 50% of them).

    Synthetic transaction monitoring has its place in a performance management strategy. But, it is generally accepted that there are better approaches for end-user experience management. Here is a good article to describe different approaches to end-user experience monitoring when used for for performance management:
    http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9013083&pageNumber=1

    But, more importantly,
    — UEM captures more than response time metrics, including system and application errors, user errors and user behavior and workflow.
    — UEM metrics are “captured once” and used by the whole team — performance, change management, adoption, training, end-use support, process management.

    Check out the http://www.knoa.com/sapcorner for more info.

    Email me if you would be interested in discussing further.

    Cheers,

    Lori Wizdo

  2. Hi Lori, thanks for that excellent information on UEM. It’s good reference info and I’m sure many of my readers will be interested to hear about it.

    The main point of the article though is to point out the ‘free’ features that will be available in the Enterprise Support bundle. I’m assuming that UEM would require additional licensing so would require a further business case to be produced.

    However it’s good to know that there’s another solution there if we require deeper user experience monitoring.


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