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A practical guide for SAP Basis Administrators

Learning SAP Basis is easier said than done, and even experienced users need a little help once in a while. SearchSAP expert Giovanni Davila has worked in the computer field for more than a decade, and hopes to make the challenging task a little bit easier with his new book "SAP Basis Administration."

Mr. Davila is educated in Systems Engineering and has programming experience ranging from C, Pascal, Cobol, dBase, FoxBase, and PERL. His credentials include an A+ technician certification and five years of experience in Windows NT Administration and Networking. He has completed several APO 2.0A, BW 2.0A, knowledge warehouse and IDES installations and is a recognized expert in SAP Basis Administration on R/3 4.0/4.5/4.6 under Windows NT/2000 and SQL Server. Mr. Davila is a Guatemalan native and speaks fluent Spanish.

His book "SAP Basis Administration" promises to help you to automate your job and perform tasks more efficiently. Topics covered in this text include: the architecture of SAP R/3, system installation, how to perform an R/3 homogeneous system copy, client administration, printing, patch administration, user administration, transport management, configuration of remote services (SAProuter and SAPNet) and a guide to essential administration, tuning and monitoring. The book covers R/3 releases 4.5 and 4.6 on Windows NT/2000 on SQL server, and will be available for ordering on March 20, 2001. In this interview with SearchSAP, Davila describes his thoughts on SAP Basis trends and issues and introduces his upcoming book.

What makes your book different from what's already out there? What makes my book special is that it is very practical...

and it does not bore the reader with plain theory and a lot of text. Primarily, I wrote it as a hands-on guide to what you have to do as a Basis-administrator, with detailed steps on how to do each task. I try to get every single page to make the reader say: "Wow, I didn't know that!" I also give away many tricks that I have learned on the job. I call them "little known facts." 

Why did you write this book?
I wrote this book because I want to share my knowledge on R/3 Basis administration and help those who have encountered frustration and confusion in their journey through the SAP R/3 Technical Consultant Certification Program. There are many network administrators and DBAs out there thinking about switching to SAP careers. The lack of good inexpensive documentation has disappointed and stopped many. Experimentation is fine but people need to be able to acquire sufficient knowledge to do their jobs. As we all know, time is precious. 

Why re-invent the wheel? Why learn the hard way? What inspired you to write this book?
When I started out learning about SAP Basis, I bought many books, went to classes and so on. The books were okay, and the classes were okay ? but not good enough. I faced many challenges myself. I had some consultants here helping me, but even so there were a lot of things we didn?t know so I started documenting everything as I went along. As the documentation grew, I realized I might as well type it all up into a book. 

I noticed your book comes with a CD-ROM as well. What is on it?
It has two main features: a wide range of useful utilities, and various scripts. All scripts are created by myself and are discussed in-depth in the book. Can you give me an example of such a script?
Sure. Let's say you come as a consultant to a client and need information about the client's system fast. The first step is to access the database of the client's R/3 system, and by using these scripts you can retrieve a lot of useful information very rapidly. Some of the scripts actually work at the operating system level, allowing you to access the database without the use of other tools.Another example is when a Basis administrator wants to shut down a SAP R/3 system automatically. I know there are people that have created this before, but my script really goes beyond just the shutdown. Among other things, it will check which parts are not running, and not even bother attempting to shut those parts down. It works the same way when starting the system, saving time in both ends. 

Who is your target audience?
The book is not only for those learning Basis as beginners, but also for those already familiar with looking for ways to automate their SAP Basis jobs. You could say it's a reference as well as a How-To guide, focusing on Windows NT and Windows 2000 environments. A lot of things in the book apply to any environment, but I do refer to some things that will work on Windows NT/2000 only, not Oracle or Unix.

What challenges do you face today?
There are many challenges. I think the most important ones are the configuration issues, and the difficulty of cloning. Information is not readily available, making things complicated. An example [of the cloning issue] is if a company has a copy of their existing production, and they're planning to make an upgrade to a new release of R/3. Rather than use their test environment or production system, they want to create an entirely new copy. I have personally received many questions of how to do that. 

Do you have any experience with SAP competitors' solutions?
I have some experience with the Oracle CPG [Consumer Packaged Goods] suite. My company bought it, an $18 million package, but it really didn't work the way it was supposed to, so we switched to SAP. 

Do you have any advice for beginners?
Try to read the R/3 documentation. It's a good source of information. If you could ask the SAP development team for one thing, what would it be?
Make the installation easier. I have installed many [products], and some of the steps in the SAP documentation are either confusing or downright incorrect. You have to read the notes carefully; you can't rely on the installation guides that come with the software. 

As a beginner, what was the toughest part of learning to use SAP Basis?
Getting information on how to do different tasks. One example is when we wanted to create an RFC-connection. It's so simple you can do it in a few seconds when you know how to do it, but nobody could tell me exactly what to do. When I took my class, we mentioned it, talked about what it was and all that, but never actually DID it. Some books will tell you, but not in the detail that you'll need.

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