SDN Subscriptions have been at the centre of my attention for a while now (click here for previous posts). Monday’s news about price cuts for SAP’s Netweaver Subscription package reminded me of a little interview I’ve been meaning to do for ages with Stefan Ressing, a SAP Netweaver Solution Architect. Stefan is an old friend and former colleague of mine and I knew that Stefan had recently extended his subscription, so I wanted to know what his experiences so far have been.
Stefan, for how long have you been using the SDN Netweaver Subscription now?
Since day one, e.g. over one year and now renewed under the old price
How easy was the installation process? Any problems during installation? How experienced do you have to be?
SAP software is easy to install if you have a basic understanding how SAP works, e.g. DB, Server, Client. SAP delivers the full set of install disks and help.sap.com documentation to your delivery address shortly after they received your payment. You have access via OSS to the SAPNET for additional downloads and documentation.
What’s SAP’s app support like for SDN Subscriptions? how quickly do you get response?
As I did not face any problems so far, I cannot answers this but you have a full OSS account and can raise problems, not sure that you can set them to very high, e.g. business at risk.
I guess not experiencing any problems then is a good thing. Which dev systems/platforms/servers do you use the most and what do you use it for?
I have installed SAP PI 7.0 and 7.1 on a Dell Server inside a VMWARE virtual machine. The subscription comes with MaxDB (SAPDB) as DB which is easy to administer. I use my system to install SPs before my customers do and so I can advise them on issues or new features. Further I do some JAVA development for SAP PI.
And what about hardware? Did you have to buy additional hardware and /or software? If yes, how much was it, roughly?
I run it on a Dell 2800, e.g. that works fine for PI 7.0 but for PI 7.1 I add to add a lot more memory so I bought a new Dell 2950, it runs Windows2008 with two Linux VMWARE sessions in which SAP PI 7.1 runs. Do not underestimate the cost of the hardware, e.g. the portal or development instance might not need as much horsepower as PI 7.1 does, but it will grow. New releases of SAP come in 64-bit versions only, you therefore need to have a 64-bit system. My Dell system added about USD 4000 to this investment.
Wow, that’s pretty serious money. In which area would you say did the SDN Netweaver Subscription system boost your skills the most? In other words: where did it “stretch” you?
First of all as a Solution Architect I can now also install SAP systems and I know more about how they work and how to tweak them. My customers like that, e.g. in the PI a lot of people know the PI tools but not how it runs under the hood. This is essential when you are working for a huge customer and they need your advice how to design their interfaces.
The “stretch” I would say comes with the new Java 5 version which for example SAP PI 7.1 utilizes. The patching takes a lot longer as SAP has split the JAVA part out in many subareas. Previously, the DEVStudio was easy to install, but now it is more geared up for large organizations, which have an update server. It took me some research to keep my CE 7.1 up-to-date with all SP.
Were you able to demo/develop things at home to then present it to a client, for example?
Yes, as I mentioned earlier I was able to advise customers on SPs, I did not have time yet to design more cool tools or apps but I can. The only issues is if you do not renew your subscriptions your system will stop working and you lose your development workspace.
What’s your overall impression of the package? Would you recommend it?
I think SAP is on the right way with this, but as I mentioned before if you do not extend your licence each year the SAP systems stops to work, e.g. you get the license key only for one year and you can renew them if you continue to pay. I can recommend it to people how want access to stuff like PI or MDM. These products are not available on SDN. If you just want to develop JAVA I would stick to the free SDN versions as long as they exist. For PI you need a real license key and this is the only way to get it. Further you get access to the SAP TechEd sessions, so if you have not been you get an additional benefit.
Good tip on the TechEd session materials! Which leads me to my last question: What’s your opinion on the price cuts SAP announced for SDN Subscriptions yesterday?
I appreciate that, as the money you save now will help pay for the hardware. I have yet to get an e-mail to confirm that I get 6 months free as I renewed before the price cut. My biggest issue so far was the renewal as the credit card system from SAP did not work and it was not able to verify my address against my credit card. Only after demanding to speak to a supervisor they took it over the phone and I was extended.
Thanks for your time and interesting answers, Stefan !
About Stefan Ressing: Stefan has been working in the SAP arena since the R/2 days and today works as a Performance Tuning Expert and Senior Solution Architect for SAP Netweaver and PI 7.1.