Performing Component Installations : Addressing General mySAP Post-Installation Tasks

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In many ways, completing a mySAP component installation is only the beginning of the installation process; to actually prepare a system to be configured by programmers for use by end users, a wealth of additional post-installation tasks must be addressed. These core tasks include
  • Setting up a client and transport strategy

  • Addressing security and authorizations

  • Setting up printing and faxing

  • Implementing a backup/restore solution

  • Addressing archiving

The last two points in the preceding list occur outside SAP, whereas the first three are directly related to tasks performed by explicitly logging into the SAP system itself. I take a look at each of these broad areas in the next few sections, and address them in detail through documents found on the Planning CD. For a more complete list of tasks and activities that must occur after a mySAP component installation, refer instead to the SIPP master project plan, or a published SAP InstGuide.

SAP Client and Transport Strategy

Don’t confuse a SAP “client strategy” with the GUI strategy employed for accessing your mySAP solutions. Although the latter is certainly important, attention to the legal entities created within an SAP instance is critical. Your SAP client strategy directly impacts change management, and facilitates cost-effective training as well. For example, you might employ a client strategy where client 010 is the golden or “destined for production” client, and client 800 is a copy of 010 used for training end users or developers or your SAP technical team. And your change management process might be to promote changes from client 010 to client 800 on a regular basis, say weekly, while refreshing clients between instances on another regular basis—a transport strategy. Refer to the “Sample Client Strategy” PowerPoint document on the Planning CD for more detail, including a sample six-system landscape client strategy layout.

With regard to your transport strategy, you will probably initiate all development activity in your DEV environment; alternatively, some customers choose to initiate this activity from a special client residing on a Business Sandbox. Regardless of origination, all changes to any objects will also be initiated here. As development progresses, objects will eventually need to be tested; this is accomplished by transporting the updated object(s) to your Test/QA environment. Beyond pure development efforts, changes can be initiated and submitted by developers, ABAP/Java programmers, Basis/Technical Implementation team members, and other technical and functional SAP TSO resources.

Besides ABAP and Java code, transports can include enhancement packages, support packages, SAP kernel upgrades, other patches, and so on—anything within the realm of your SAP system.

At the end of the day, your transport strategy facilitates sound integration and Quality Assurance testing. Often this is accomplished by moving bulk changes in waves, as I just mentioned. In other cases, however, changes might need to be transported quickly (as in the case of an emergency, where poor code is impacting profitability or customer satisfaction). The key to successfully allowing only authorized members of your SAP TSO to circumvent change management brings us to our next topic, security.

Security, Authorizations, and Trust Relationship Management

Security in general, even just the concept of SAP Authorizations, consumes entire books in and of itself. SAP dedicates a great deal of training classes and consulting time to the topic of security, too. Why? Because SAP security is much more than managing risks to information assets, or protecting business processes through the use of security solutions, such as firewalls and the like. Underneath the wide-ranging topic of SAP security lies equally broad Secure Systems Management, which further includes areas like Single Sign On (SSO), Secure Network Communication (SNC), secure ABAP Programming, and more. Add to this Identity Management and Trust Relationship Management, and you will begin to understand the magnitude of SAP security.

In the world of mySAP solutions, the ability to manage users’ roles and authorizations outside the boundaries of a single SAP component is critical. SAP calls this Identity Management or central user administration, and it is made possible through a directory service that enables central security management of both mySAP and non-mySAP systems. But that’s only the beginning; nestled underneath the broad area of Identity Management lie three matters of importance in their own right:

  • Users/Roles/Authorizations

  • Centralized Administration

  • Directory Service Integration

Authorization management consumes a great deal of time before Go-Live. Getting authorizations worked out and roles nailed down is time-consuming in the best of cases—simply locking down users so that they cannot use transaction SE38, for example, to pull practically any data from the database, is only the beginning. You need to determine who should have read-only access to particular functional areas and components, and who can create new objects or edit existing ones. Authorizations apply to different roles (or classes of users), too, not just end users. Authorizations apply to systems administrators, for example—you don’t want just anyone to have the ability to add or modify the supported languages in your system, nor can you afford to allow just anyone to use the Transport and Management system; only a select few members of the SAP TSO merit these abilities. Similarly, authorizations apply to developers—you need to lock down systems (like production!) such that developers are not even tempted to make code corrections outside of development systems. Others, like Help Desk personnel, senior computer operators tasked with managing a mySAP enterprise, and so on also have job-specific roles and authorizations that need to be adhered to.

In the past, I have found it useful to create a Profile Matrix or Role Matrix to help me manage users, roles, and so on, too. This can be taken a step further, and adapted for specific components, cross-application roles, and authorizations as well. I suggest considering such an approach to document not only the roles or authorizations inherent to your organizations, but also who has the authority to assign a role/authorization, and who has authority to make changes to them.

Authorization management alone will not ensure a secure, auditable environment, however. Trust Relationship Management takes managing authorizations to the next level by attaching trust relationship information to the data itself, regardless of how it might be distributed or shared through collaboration or other means. By attaching this trust relationship metadata to data, records can be maintained that prove that the data has been used correctly. I believe that this will only grow in importance as distributed environments grow to include more partners and vendors, allowing companies to collaborate and share their data and business processes. To learn more about Trust Relationship Management, including Authentication, Pluggable Authentication Service (PAS), Logon Tickets, and X.509 Certificates, see SAP’s Service Marketplace.

Printing and Faxing

SAP uses spool work processes, which execute on one or more application servers (or the central instance) to process print requests. In this way, SAP supports printing in quite a few different ways:

  • Print requests can be routed from an application server to its local OS print spooler, and printed from an application-server-attached printer.

  • Using TCP port number 515, print requests can be routed to a standard “line printer” service from the target host.

  • Using a printer daemon (SAPlpd) and port 515, output can be printed.

  • Printing via the dialog work process connection is maintained by a SAPGUI or WebGUI front end; output is routed to printers (usually) defined at an OS level and set up in SAP.

The last printing method discussed—using the SAPGUI or WebGUI—is the most popular approach for users who do not need to print giant reports best handled by industrial-strength data center printers. The first step in setting up this type of printing is simple—verify that you can access the printer from your desktop or laptop at an operating system level. Or make sure that you can print from a different application, such as Microsoft Word. This will save you troubleshooting time if you run into problems. Next, pull up the online documentation that ships with the SAP product you are configuring for printing. For our purposes here, let’s assume we want to set up a printer for Web AS. Drill down into mySAP Technology Components—SAP Web Application Server—Computing Center Management System—SAP Printing Guide. And then follow the procedure outlined here. Through this procedure, you identify the printer (by UNC or IP naming conventions), indicate whether you want to print immediately upon receiving a print request, provide a cover sheet for each print job, and define the output in terms of lines, columns, and general format—all of which is clearly illustrated in Figure 1. Later, you can use transaction SP01 to manage your print requests.

Figure 1. Setting up a printer within SAP allows for customizing exactly when and how you receive your print request.

In some cases, it’s also necessary to set up faxing capabilities. In the scope of my travels, I have come across many different faxing applications. But Facsys and Faxination are the only ones that left an impression on me, and after talking with my customers who still use these products, they seem worth mentioning.

Faxing is set up within the SAPGUI; afterwards, go to Tools, Business Communication, Communication, SAPConnect, Goto, Error handling to check the error handling status of a fax, or use SAPOffice for fax status (depending on the faxing application). SAP notifies the sending user’s Inbox or Outbox of fax attempts and related status, depending on whether the fax was sent/received successfully or unsuccessfully. Successful fax notifications are dropped into the sending user’s Outbox, whereas unsuccessful fax notifications are dropped into the sending user’s Inbox with a description of the kind of problem that occurred.

To troubleshoot basic faxing issues, use transactions SM59 and SM37. The first verifies that the TCP/IP connection is good, and the latter can be used to see if a fax job is running. Transaction SCOT (SAPConnect) can be used to reprocess fax jobs if necessary. Additionally, SCOT allows you to view fax information, process waiting faxes individually or by group, and look at errors and other issues.

Backup/Restore Considerations

Surprisingly, backup and restore (B/R) solutions for SAP represent one of the more troublesome areas in an implementation. Why? I’m really not sure, other than to say that it’s more complicated to back up a large enterprise system than it appears. Although most people tend to lump B/R solutions into the “tape drive/tape backup software” category, B/R solutions are more accurately characterized in the following ways:

  • Backups can be integrated directly with SAP (through SAP’s BR tools interface, typical of Oracle database solutions) or might require their own proprietary backup/restore application interface (such as SQL Server, because by design it does not support SAP BR).

  • Backups can be offline (where the database is shut down and all files are therefore closed) or online (where the database is up and running).

  • Backups can take advantage of a number of different tape drive and tape media technologies, which vary in terms of price, speed, and capacity.

  • Backups can be centralized (where multiple databases residing in a SAN all get backed up to an enterprise tape library) or decentralized (where each database server has its own locally attached dedicated tape solution).

  • Backups can be configured such that the data is streamed to multiple tape drives and protected with parity (much as RAID 5 arrays work to protect disk data), dumped to multiple tapes (for speed), or simply dumped to a single tape (for simplest administration).

  • Backups can be performed in other ways prior to dumping bytes to tape (which ultimately needs to take place, consistent with best practices)—for example, backups can be dumped to an array of disk drives (for speed and as a “backup” to the backup), or they can be created from a clone set of drives configured specifically for backup purposes.

One of my SAP colleagues shared the following with me recently. I believe this sums up the attitude that companies should have regarding what to back up:

  • If you don’t back it up, you cannot recover it.

  • If you don’t back it up and ship it offsite, you will not survive a disaster.

  • If you don’t test your backups by recovering from them, you really don’t have a backup.

  • If you don’t maintain your backup/restore system, it will at best perform poorly for you.

In the end, each of these nuggets of wisdom tells us the same thing—back up your data, or find another job.

Archive Considerations in the Real World

From R/3 sales orders to CRM customer data and APO demand planning versions, an enormous amount of data will be created annually in your mySAP environment. It’s not too early to begin thinking about how you will manage this data in terms of database growth and size while ensuring excellent database response time—remember, it’s the database performance that drags down average response time over the life of your SAP system more than any other single component. I completely understand the desire to kick back a bit after Go-Live and focus on things like ironing out operational issues and getting to know your family again. In fact, I must admit that most of my customers tend to put off discussions of archiving until a year or two after Go-Live, when they are fighting yet another unforeseen disk space issue and facing potentially expensive disk subsystem upgrades or replacement strategies. But if they were able to do it all over again, believe me, many of them would gladly make room in their project plan to implement at least a basic archiving solution before Go-Live.

So let’s step back and talk about why an archive solution is needed in the first place. If we look at typical R/3 systems, they tend to grow at a pretty regular rate when things settle down a few months after Go-Live. Most of my customers’ production R/3 databases grow between 5 and 10GB a month. The growth comes mainly from transactional data—doing business day-to-day, like cutting purchase requisitions, creating sales orders, and so on. With every extra GB of data, the R/3 database tables grow longer and longer. SELECT statements take longer to run as more rows of data are added to each table. Database “reorgs” and other administrative tasks take longer, too. Ultimately, a transaction that used to consume 500ms of database request time will consume 600ms, and then 700ms. The system will even begin to seem slower to its end users; their perception will be grounded in truth, unfortunately.

An archive solution works by slimming down the database to something resembling its former self, by removing old or little-used data from the database—transactions run faster because there is less data to sift through. SAP offers a host of built-in tools and interfaces to help you archive your data, and a slew of third-party archiving solutions are available as well. Thus, archiving simply means dumping your unwanted data somewhere else, somewhere other than your production database. My customers have taken a pretty liberal view of where precisely “somewhere else” is, however:

  • In the most classic sense of the word, archived data is actually dumped to a near-line storage facility, such as a magneto-optical jukebox. These hardware devices are slow compared to disk subsystems, but provide a good tradeoff between online data and completely offline data (like data that resides on tape). And they exhibit phenomenal reliability, making them perfect candidates for sensitive or critical data that absolutely must be safeguarded for a long time.

  • Other customers have dumped archived data into more readily available and cheaper media, such as inexpensive RAID 5 storage systems. With the cost per GB of storage space dropping every year, this can be a pretty attractive prospect over time. However, disk drives fail, and therefore must be protected from failure.

  • Still others look to their data warehousing systems as archive “systems of record.” Indeed, one of the most common reasons I heard for implementing SAP BW the first two years after it was released was to archive old production data out of R/3 and other transactional systems.

In a nutshell, before you go to the trouble of understanding all of your requirements and needs, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you expect your database to hit 200GB in the next two years?

  • Do you expect your database to grow at more than 10GB per month?

  • Will you have a hard time getting budget money or time later to implement archiving, or will it be easier on everyone to earmark the dollars and time now during the implementation?

If your answer to any of these three questions is affirmative, read on—there might be a lot of ways to implement archiving, but the keys to a successful archiving project are few:

  • You need to understand your data. This means understanding more than simply what may or may not be archived. It also means understanding how different components and even the discrete business areas making up these components can benefit from archiving. And it means understanding how both your transactional and master data grow over time.

  • Understand the technologies, tools, products, and consulting expertise available and necessary to pull off an archive project.

  • Understand priorities. With multiple mySAP components and hundreds of business objects available to be potentially archived, you must understand what to tackle first. There’s plenty to choose from—production orders, sales orders, material and financial documents, and so on.

  • In the same manner, focus on OLTP environments like R/3 and CRM, where absolute response time is always more important than in OLAP or reporting environments like BW. In other words, go after archive projects that focus on customer-facing systems that ultimately provide better ROI.

  • Understand your access needs—can you tolerate 3–7 seconds of wait time to access archived data, or do you need it faster? This will dictate the hardware technology underpinning your archive solution.

Certainly, other post-installation tasks outside of developing a client strategy, setting up TMS, and addressing security, printing, backup/restore, and archiving need to be considered. An SAP license needs to be installed, as should a SAProuter (for additional security), the SAP online documentation needs to be installed if this hasn’t already been done, and RFC destinations need to be verified. Basic operational tasks, such as setting up logon groups, operations modes (OpModes), background housekeeping jobs, applying Support Packages, performing the initial client copy of client 000, and so on, also need to be done. In most cases, the relevant InstGuide walks you through much of this; worst case, the InstGuide points you to SAP’s Service Marketplace, where you can obtain further detailed information.

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