Avoiding SAP Complexity Through Monitoring and Automation

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This article was written by Heiko Mannherz, CIO at Avantra.

If you've ever worked within an SAP environment, you will know that the bigger they get, the more unwieldy, complex, and expensive they can be. And it doesn't matter if you're running SAP from within a third-party cloud host or an on-premise data centre, the challenge can be overwhelming. From the installation, setup, implementation, updates and upgrades, performance analysis, and monitoring, every step along the SAP journey offers unique challenges some businesses struggle with... especially as the deployments scale to meet demand.

SAP Monitoring is Key

Fortunately, there are ways to lessen the complication of SAP environments. One key method is SAP monitoring, which can help to streamline SAP processes, troubleshoot issues, and maintain high availability. SAP monitoring has become a mainstay among business leaders. When a business can successfully monitor their SAP environment, they are better prepared to overcome the hurdles that might otherwise trip them up. And when you have a successful monitoring platform, you can focus on more valuable tasks.

At this point, you might be thinking the task of monitoring is limited to error checking. Although that is a valid use case, monitoring can also be configured to deliver reporting results for just about any aspect of an SAP system. For example, you can setup monitoring to feed into regular reports that are then automatically sent to customers, so all transactions (even those running smoothly) can be documented. That type of solution enables innovation, knowledge transfer, seamless change management, and makes business operations more resilient and superior.

As SAP environments grow, so too does the complexity and cost. With that in mind, it has become crucial for businesses to be able to monitor those SAP deployments precisely and automatically, so their staff can focus on more valuable tasks. With SAP monitoring, businesses are better capable of streamlining the SAP processes, troubleshooting issues, and maintaining high availability. As well, it allows those companies to focus more effort on innovation, knowledge transfer, agility, and resiliency. All of this equates to businesses saving both time and money. 

Adding Automation is Central to Efficiency

MVB Consulting uses SAP automation, in combination with an AIOps (Artificial Intelligence for IT Operations) platform, to keep their business ahead in a very competitive market. And those companies that depend on MVB Consulting can reap the benefits of such modern monitoring and automation with zero disruptions, unprecedented control, and an easier path to growth.

According to Research In Action, past use cases of AIOps expanded to include AI across other functions within IT enterprise teams. And while some businesses focus solely on the operate and monitor aspects, others are now providing capabilities surrounding risk and application deployment.

If you're curious as to how this can help make SAP environments more efficient, consider what Research In Action believes should be found in AIOps functionality, which includes:

  • Ability to ingest data from a fast set of sources of various types
  • Ability to analyze data at any time (including real-time)
  • Enable the storing of data for any-time access
  • Enable secure and role-based access to data at any time
  • Leverage machine learning to analyse data generated by machines and humans, use it, learn from it, and provide analysis
  • Use the collected analysis for proactive automation and action
  • Present the analysis (in context).

Martin vom Bruch, the founder of MVB Consulting, applies automation to his "lazy thinking" principle (work that has to be done manually can just as easily be automated). Accordingly, automation functions are among the decisive strengths his company offers. And because automation is not limited to monitoring and associated reporting, customers can automate operating system and kernel updates/upgrades. 

Self-Service Portals Make for Happy Customers

Another way companies like MVB Consulting have used monitoring and automation to make their customers' lives easier is by offering self-service portals, where clients can take care of certain tasks on their own. Bruch calls this a "killer feature," because clients can power up and power down their SAP systems themselves. Most of these self-service controls are handled via a mobile app, so it's very user-friendly.

For instance, the developer of one of the MVB customers boots up his system at the breakfast table via the app on his cell phone and can start work immediately after breakfast. For another customer, the system automatically boots up at 8:30 a.m. and shuts down again at 5 p.m. - where it could check whether users are still logged in. But the customer wants the system to shut down anyway.

Several MVB Consulting clients are also involved in SAP consulting and one of their requirements is keeping an SAP system active for only 3 hours a day (to save costs). Instead of having to call and trigger a ticket for each shutdown, the clients can simply access their dashboard from MVB and take care of the process themselves. To this, Bruch says, "Shutting down an SAP system happens including the virtual machine, which is not possible in this way with most other solutions. And when the VM is running in Azure, it is de-allocated at the same time, as otherwise, costs would continue to be incurred by the customer, which many overlook when it comes to sleep mode. We make sure this happens reliably every time."

Custom Checks Make For Granular Monitoring

To bolster the self-service portals, MVB Consulting also makes a "Custom Checks" feature available. With Custom Checks, MVB can allow customer-specific, targeted monitoring of their SAP deployments. These checks make it possible for clients to specify precisely which parameters or table entries are to be monitored.

MVB Consulting is capable of getting as much benefit as possible from monitoring and automation of SAP environments. The results of that usage can be seen at every level, from the reliability of systems and customer satisfaction to the dramatically reduced time required to support SAP deployments. Given today's shortage of skilled workers and the rise of SAP deployments, gaining any advantage with automation should be considered a must.

Conclusion

If you're looking to avoid the complexity that comes with large-scale SAP deployments, monitoring and automation can make that an achievable goal. The future of SAP is end-to-end automation, so getting on board with this new innovative approach will put you ahead of the competition.