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SAP SCN Podcast Transcripts

Starting in December of 2007, Jon began a multi-year series of podcasts with the SAP SCN Community team. Many of these have their own transcripts, which you can view here. If you want to check out all the SAP SCN podcasts and download them, go to the SAP SCN Podcast Page.
Moving SAP ALM Into the Community: An SAP Community Podcast - Podcast Transcription Print E-mail
Article Index
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Podcast Transcription:
Moving SAP ALM Into the Community: An SAP Community Podcast
Hosted by Jon Reed of
Podcast Interview Date: December 15, 2009

Jon Reed: Welcome to this SAP Community Network podcast. I'm your host, Jon Reed of Joining me today is Evan Stoddard, who is a senior product manager at SAP, and Michael Schwandt, who is program director with the SAP Community Network. We are here to talk about the emergence of Application Lifecycle Management and why it can have a real impact on the bottom line of SAP users.

Evan and Michael are also going to tell us more about why they decided to build out an ALM area on SCN and how we can all take advantage of the resources there.

Let's start with you, Evan. With TechEd 2009, SAP really started talking more openly about ALM. What is ALM and why do you think it can help SAP's customers reduce their total cost of ownership?

Evan Stoddard: There was a big push at TechEd: I think we had more than 60 hours of program content. There's a lot of confusion about the whole idea of ALM, and it's just starting to be rolled out. I see it as a real evolution of our support infrastructure and our methodology in order to excel our innovation for our customers, reduce their operations and let them build better quality and have better robustness and security of their solutions.

Really, if you think about it, we've had this tool set based on Solution Manager for almost nine or ten years now, and we've been adding functionality to this platform. We will see on the operations side and in the last seven or eight years we added implementation content so this could be used throughout the whole life cycle.

What customers were asking for was to have a better understanding of how to use these tools according to SAP's best practices, and to have standards for doing all of their key processes for Application Lifecycle Management and support according to IT infrastructure library or ITIL standards. What we have been doing is coming up with a whole methodology based on our Run SAP methodology for having support standards and also the tools integrated together into this offering for end-to-end Application Lifecycle Management. This just means we are building out all this information in a logical way according to the application lifecycle.

We had six major phases of this; for example, the requirements phase, design phase, build and test and going to operations, then on to continuous improvement, then any additional innovation going forward and lastly organizing all of the materials - the training, our services, the documentation and the actual way the tools are all organized in the Solution Manager platform so the customers can use them in an organized and holistic way to get a great return on their investment and lower their total costs of operations.

This is just what they've been asking for, for years, and we are really excited we can actually offer this now in an understanding way and publish all this information at our shows, webcasts and online content.

Reed: Solution Manager has a central place in ALM and, for those listeners who are still trying to better understand Solution Manager and the best ways of using it in an SAP environment, what is its role in ALM and how can customers tie Solution Manager into their ALM approach?

Stoddard: Solution Manager is our core platform where we execute these key Application Lifecycle Management processes. We started out with just a lot of tools and other capabilities: sometimes they were in the Solution Manager, sometimes externally, sometimes they were provided by external tools at SAP or maybe by partners. So what we have done is use this as a central platform and organize all of our key ALM processes and align all the capabilities.

For example, if a customer is looking to follow a lot of this ALM information for this offering, you look at the low-hanging fruit and what the pain points are if you've got some issues with change request management, if you're not happy with your service level management, if you want to do better at application incident management, etc. You can look at all of the information at the top level of the ALM offering as far as what processes you can follow, how this aligns with what roles in the organization should do these processes and that maps to the capabilities that are either inside the Solution Manager or linked to the Solution Manager - like we can do with, for example, third-party products.

For example, if you want to do test management, you can look both through the Application Lifecycle Manager to the road map information, find out what capabilities you can use right away and if you want to use a third party product. Then you can see that you can use, for example, the Rational Quality Manager, the HP OpenView or the HP Quality Center. You can actually use these in conjunction with our test workbench and Solution Manager system so you really have a holistic end-to-end test suite that can do everything for the enterprise. All the information is here telling you exactly how to run these processes, who in your organization should be doing what.

If you want to outsource any particular function, you can tell them exactly what to do following the information we have provided in all this documentation. Again, the Solution Manager is the core platform where we are bundling together all these capabilities as much as possible, linking all this information in the Solution Manager about the solution, maybe to third party suites if necessary, and giving the customers the information to actually realize that processing capability in the most efficient manner.

Reed: Michael, let's talk about the community side. It used to be that to find ALM resources, you needed to be on SAP's Service Marketplace, but now you've created an ALM resource collection on SCN and there are more plans in store for that. Tell us what motivated you to put ALM content on SCN and what users can find there.

Michael Schwandt: There are two reasons. One is that when we started SDN, the focus has been on techies, developers, geeks, and now we are expanding the audience to complete IT, to run IT as a business, to the operational aspect.

The second has been that if you go on Service Marketplace, you have to have an "s" user ID (you have to be a customer), while it is very easy to get a "p" user, or public user, ID on SDN. So we would expand the audience to more individuals working for partner system integrators, freelancers and even customers. By doing this, we are adding to the static content currently on Service Marketplace all the collaborative services like blogs, wiki and forums. For many of these products like Solution Manager, like enhancement packages, we have already had many forums, many blogs and posts and all that on SDN, but they were slightly disconnected. Now we are moving all that stuff to one place in one platform so it's easier for the customer to consume it.

Reed: Michael, put yourself in the shoes of an SAP user for a moment. You want to learn more about ALM or SCN and maybe interact with other ALM users inside and outside of SAP, but you're not totally sure where to begin with that. How would you begin that on SCN?

Schwandt: It could be two-fold. You either go on the ALM homepage, which is a little bit of a magazine approach for all broader topics so you can see what is currently going on, what is in, what is the feature blog, etc. Or you go with the search - you search for ALM or whatever you are looking for, and you get a list of related content, articles, blogs, etc.

The next step would be to figure out what the best is way for you to ideally write this down in the blog post or in a wiki to enable other colleagues, other peers in your industry, to share their feedback with you. This will help you come to a better way to use it and all these things; this is the idea of the community, to really align with peers in the industry and to come to small user groups in order to really benefit from the other guy's experience.

Reed: I've definitely noticed that if you can put out a good blog post on SCN on a topic like this, you generally get some really good comments from others in the community, so that's one excellent way to begin.

Schwandt: Yeah, we're still focusing not only on experts, because most people are not experts, but to go after even the intermediate and the beginners to say this is our problem, this is what I would like to learn, this is my current status in my project, and ask if there are others out there in the community with the same project status and the same requirements. Then you share the resources.

Reed: We will include a link to that ALM homepage in our description. SAP seems to be taking some pretty strong steps to involve customers in a number of new product rollouts. Is that the case with ALM, and how are customers getting involved with this conversation? What kind of impact are they having?


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