Since the start of the boom of SAP R/3, SAP put in place a comprehensive set of quality services to help customers during the process of implementing and supporting their SAP solutions, and they are in constant evolution and improvement. These services include product information, education services, installation and upgrade services, consulting, and more. All this can be found in the SAP Service Marketplace
SAP bases its support services mainly on remote connections with customers through the international networks. Administrators, support personnel, and consultants should be particularly familiar with the former SAP Online Service System (OSS), now known as SAPnet-R/3 front end, which is now accessible through the Web using the SAP Service Marketplace and which is the primary source of service and support. SAP offers a certification process in the technical, functional, and developing areas of the system and an extensive number of training courses worldwide. SAP provides many types of services:
For maintenance, SAP has set up a helpdesk, or hotline, which monitors the calls and resolves them or directs them to the appropriate SAP expert, and a first-level customer service team, which is in charge of resolving the problems, prioritizing the calls, and, if needed, referring questions to other experts. Customers obtain this service via phone, fax, the SAP Service Marketplace, or the SAPnet-R/3 front end. It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For example, if you have a severe problem at 5 a.m., log it in on the SAPnet-R/3 front end, give it a "very high" priority (meaning "my system does not work"), and you might expect a fast call back from Japan, Philadelphia, or Walldorf, Germany.
In the search for total customer services solution, SAP has also designed a comprehensive Service Map that gathers the requirements for a full life cycle of services, including evaluation, implementation, and continuous improvement phases for each of the identified key customer processes:
• Management activities
• Business processes
• Technical management
• Development activities
• Knowledge transfer
• Help and care
For each of these processes and phases, SAP and its partners have an extensive portfolio of services.
Online Services: The SAP Service Marketplace
As stated previously, SAP has made online services through remote connections its preferred and most convenient way to support customers. For this reason, obtaining a network connection to SAP became critical in any SAP project. SAP has built a worldwide network of support servers for customers to use to obtain the support they need for successful implementation and operation of their SAP systems. Customers can also download patches and upgrades from those servers via ftp (a file transfer protocol very common in TCP/IP networks), and directly from their Web site at service.sap.com. SAP also offers extensive information and correction services for customers and partners through the Internet by means of the SAP Service Marketplace, which gathers all and more of the facilities previously found on the Online Service Systems (OSS) but with much more content. However, customers will still need a remote connection to SAP for certain services, like EarlyWatch, Telnet, remote upgrade, and others.
The only thing customers need in order to gain access to these servers is a remote connection to the nearest support server. Currently, SAP has support servers in Walldorf, Foster City, Tokyo, Sydney, and Singapore. This is the connection that you use for the OSS, EarlyWatch, and remote consulting. It is the only way that you can permit the SAP experts to log on to your system and solve problems online. Imagine the costs saved in travel. Currently this connection can be easily established using the SNC (Secure Network Communication) protocol and digital certificates.
SAPnet-R/3 Front End (OSS)
The SAPnet-R/3 front end (formerly known as OSS or Online Service System) is nothing more (and nothing less) than an SAP system that customers with remote connections to SAP support servers can use free of cost. Note All this functionality can now be found and deployed directly from the SAP Service Marketplace (service.sap.com). This is a brief list of what is available at the SAPnet-R/3 front end system:
SAPnet-R/3 front end has been for years the star service system provided by SAP and the most widely used by SAP customers and partners, especially consultants and administrators. The SAPnet-R/3 front end interface is intuitive and a very easy system to learn and use. SAP provides initial user accounts for accessing the SAP Service Markeplace or the SAPnet. Customers can create and maintain additional user accounts from within the SAPnet-R/3 front end.
EarlyWatch and EarlyWatch Alert
EarlyWatch is an SAP offering for preventive services, providing proactive diagnosis and analysis online. Through the connection, an SAP expert accesses the customer system and obtains all the information needed for preparing a report that is later sent to the customer. SAP is used to provide a free session before customer systems go into a productive stage. Subsequent sessions must be separately contracted. The first thing revealed in the EarlyWatch report is a summary diagnosis indicating the problem's level of severity found in the system. This diagnosis might indicate that most parameters are well tuned and that systems are running fine, or it might say that there are some problems, which can be either normal or critical—in which case, customers should solve them as soon as possible.
The checkups done by the EarlyWatch service include detecting potential problems in the SAP applications, as well as in the database and operating system. The service provides information, for example, about tablespaces getting full, SAP system log error messages, buffer tuning, and database parameters. SAP systems have hundreds of parameters, with many of them directly affecting other values. The EarlyWatch team analyzes the past week's evolution of the system, and if it detects bottlenecks or an increase in processing times, it usually recommends new values for the profile parameters.
With the EarlyWatch Alert system, the customer systems are automatically monitored and the data sent to SAP and collected locally or within the SAP Solution Manager.Figure 1-15 includes a sample of one of the initial pages of the EarlyWatch Alert report.
Sample EarlyWatch Alert report page (Copyright by SAP AG)
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