SAP Watch

Sep 11 2010   4:20PM GMT

SAP Solution Manager: The true centerpiece of SAP’s strategy?

CourtneyBjorlin Courtney Bjorlin Profile: CourtneyBjorlin

We’ve been hearing it over and over again — on-demand, on-premise, on-device. But there’s something we didn’t hear about at the keynotes at Sapphire, and SAP doesn’t hold press conferences on — customers’ acceptance and adoption of Solution Manager. That is perhaps more important and may well dictate success in all of those areas.

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.

I just finished a fair amount of reporting on SAP’s set of application lifecycle management tools, and came away with the feeling that Solution Manager’s importance to SAP’s strategy can’t be underestimated. Early on in his tenure as co-CEO, Jim Hagemann Snabe added a fourth pillar to the on-demand, on-premise and on-device mantra SAP’s been pushing — orchestration — that could really dictate the success of the other three. Solution Manager is a big part of this.

This idea is what SAP was trying to get at when it rolled out Enterprise Support. No doubt there were financial motivations for the new support structure. SAP kept saying Enterprise Support would bring value in the long-run, but never fully qualified why.

Solution Manager and the concept behind Enterprise Support are so closely tied together, one shouldn’t have ever been explained without talking about the other.

Customers’ systems are complex and expensive to manage. Everything SAP’s proposing has the potential to add even more disruption. And some of the ways customers are looking to save money now, like SaaS, best-of-breed, etc., will likely make landscapes even more complicated, and costly, to manage.

For customers, Solution Manager, in theory and over the long-run, promises to provide everything needed for requirements gathering, designing, building and testing, deploying and operating the system in one place. SAP’s pushing for all of its customers to manage their software with it.

So what’s the big problem — or else, why would I be blogging on this, right? Right now, customers are only using it for the things SAP mandates them to: downloading and managing support patches and basic service-related tasks. And they’re having a tough time building business cases to do much else.

The stakes are high for SAP. For one, supremacy in the application lifecycle management space is a money maker, and gives vendors added control over their accounts, as detailed so well in this blog I’d highly recommend reading by Joshua Greenbaum.

The “SolMan” tune is definitely resonating in the customer base. SAP has loads of initiatives to carry it along. And there are good SolMan evangelists out there like Tony DeThomasis and David Hull to help.

But will it be enough?

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