SAP Solution Manager is an application lifecycle management (ALM) platform provided by SAP, which helps you implement, maintain, run, and adopt all enterprise applications - even non-SAP software - while supporting business innovation, business continuity, and operations.
This platform was introduced by SAP in 2010 to help customers monitor their landscape as well as provide a basic roadmap for the ABAP system lifecycle which was available at that time only from 3rd party tools, since 2010 (when Solution Manager 2.1 was launched) and untill now (at Solution Manager 7.2). During this time span, the platform has grown from a few basic functions to a "Swiss Army Knife" type of product.
An interesting statistics shows that SAP Solution Manager is the 2nd most installed SAP product after the SAP ECC.
Application Operations provides System and Application Management capabilities for central monitoring, alerting, analytics, and administration of SAP centric solutions. It helps customers reduce TCO by predefined content and centralized management tools for all aspects of operations in SAP Solution Manager.
Application Operations contains functionality for System Monitoring, Integration Monitoring and User Monitoring. Furthermore, it provides support for Analytics and Dashboarding, Technical Administration and Guided Procedures, Root Cause Analysis and Exception Management.
In this component, you find tools and functions that help you support the productive operation of your core business processes across your systems and components. You can make sure that core business processes run according to the priorities of your company and that the costs for operating a solution remain at a reasonable level in the following areas: Business Process and Interface Monitoring, Business Process Improvement, Data Consistency Management, and Job Scheduling Management.
Data Volume Management (DVM) monitors the volume of data in your system landscape. Using the DVM work center, you can reduce the size of databases and the amount of data in your landscape, significantly lowering total operating costs. The DVM work center displays details about data volume movements in single or multiple system landscapes. The work center is based on a SAP Business Information Warehouse (BW) system and provides an integrated, landscape-based view of your data.
This process controls changes in system landscapes in a comprehensive workflow. You create requests for change, edit them if necessary, and implement changes. You can perform the change control management activities across technology stacks and application components. You can access the Change Control Management features via the SAP Solution Manager Launchpad.
Change Control Management component consists of the following capabilities: Change and Transport System and Enhanced Change and Transport System, Transport Analytics, Change Diagnostics, Dual Landscape Synchronization (Retrofit), Quality Gate Management, Change Request Management and Release Management.
Custom Code Management is the central point of access for all functions that you use to monitor and manage the complete lifecycle of custom developments from requirement to retirement. Transparency on your custom code is the basis for optimization and an efficient custom code management. You can continually optimize your custom developments, monitor the implementation and track usage and quality.
This process provides central message management and processing. With its integration of SAP Customer Relationship Management (SAP CRM), IT Service Management allows you to contact all parties involved in a message. These include all users of the system landscape or your company's solutions, such as employees, customers, consultants, or support staff. With IT Service Management, you can connect to an external help desk, set up service connections, and access SAP Service & Support, if your IT system landscape also contains SAP solutions.
Change Control Management component consists of the following capabilities: IT Service Management, Change Request Management, Interface for the help desk of a third party provider, Global Service & Support Backbone.
SAP Solution Manager provides comprehensive support for managing your system landscape with tools and processes.
SAP Solution Manager's cloud-based Maintenance Planner enables easy and efficient planning of all changes in your SAP system landscape.
Landscape Management consists of installing new systems and changing existing systems using the Maintenance Planner as the central tool for planning landscape changes. Its core task is the planning of landscape changes including the planning of different deployment options of software and providing what's needed for implementing them.
The most important options of offered landscape changes are:
System installation including SAP S/4HANA and SAP Fiori
System update (support packages and enhancement packages)
All calculations of changes are based on information provided by the SAP Solution Manager Landscape Management Database. The results of the Maintenance Planner are consumed by the Software Logistics Toolset (SL Tools).
This process enables you to manage your business processes in a holistic way: you can describe both business and IT perspective on processes, applications and system landscapes in one place. Therefore, business documentation and system reality are always synchronized. For this new, holistic way of describing processes, SAP Solution Manager provides two new key applications: "Solution Administration" and "Solution Documentation".
"Solution Administration" provides an overview of the existing solutions. You can display and maintain solutions. Furthermore, you can create and define new solutions. This application can be used by administrators to set up the environment for Solution Documentation.
"Solution Documentation" is the common directory for business processes and associated documentation (unification of template, implementation, upgrade, maintenance projects and solutions). This application can be used by specialists like business analysts, process modelers and functional consultants.
SAP Solution Manager is integrated with the project management functions of SAP Portfolio and Project Management (SAP PPM), so you can manage, for example, project time, resources, and status. Project management is integrated for the following area: Solution Documentation, Change Request Management, and Requirements Management.
You can determine the scope of testing required for cross-system business processes, manage the tests centrally and execute the tests. Test management has the following phases: determining the testing scope, test planning, testing, and transferring the changes to production operation.
Here you find information about cross topics in SAP Solution Manager such as Content Activation, SAP Solution Manager Setup, SAP Engagement and Service Delivery, Analytics and more.
As mentioned above, the statistics show that SAP Solution Manager is the 2nd most installed SAP product. However statistics did not mention one important thing and this is that most customers use less than 10% of its capabilities. The majority of customers use Solution Manager for some basic functionality like: Early Watch Alert (EWA) and Maintenance Optimizer (MOpz).
SAP noticed this and starting with Solution Manager 7.2, they moved Maintenance Optimizer into SAP Support Portal. It is now called Maintenance Planner. This is great news for smaller and medium-sized companies which had to install their own Solution Manager to be able to perform any type of upgrade on the systems. This trend will also apply to EWA reports because starting with 2018 they can be generated from SAP Support Portal.
So how does the future of Solution Manager look like? It is hard to tell for now, in my opinion the platform will continue growing as the "Swiss Army Knife" but will focus more on the process automation and optimization. The companies that do not use Solution Manager at its full potential will remove it from their landscape.