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Are Enterprise Monitoring Teams Fighting a Losing Battle to Monitor SAP?

Posted by Linh Nguyen on Nov 8, 2017 4:10:19 PM

Enterprise Monitoring Team's Defense in SAP Monitoring Challenge

Introduction

Traditionally, most Enterprise Monitoring Teams (EMT) took the top down approach of consolidating company wide monitoring in as few central platforms as possible.  The EMT sometimes often referred to as the NOC (Network Operations Center) focused primarily in the availability monitoring of network and infrastructures.  Application teams were mostly expected to monitor their own applications, being the subject matter expert (SME), and only relied on the EMT for infrastructure monitoring.  However with the rise of Apps (everything from back-office to customer facing eCommerce) coupled with multi-tier and multi-vendor environments extending to virtualization and cloud frameworks, the lines have blurred between Apps and Infrastructure.  SAP customers are in the thick of this change.  EMTs need to evolve to meet the new demands of enterprise apps in the "Age of agile" as referred to in a 2017 BigPanda annual State of Monitoring report.  While SAP teams are focused on delivering IT business values to internal and external customers, they continue to look for opportunities to offload application monitoring to EMTs.  EMTs risk losing the battle to monitor their critical IT operations when they don't equip themselves with the ability to monitor SAP effectively today and for the future.

We'll explore the keypoints that we see are challenges customers face everyday as well as highlight some of the important findings in the BigPanda State of Monitoring report.  Some are generic in IT operations management (ITOM) arena, while others are specific to SAP based on our experience with customers.

Problem

  1. SAP landscapes and systems keep growing, despite promises of consolidation from SAP 10 years ago such as landscape consolidation & harmonization and Run Simple
  2. SAP has gotten too complex with all the modules and issues that could occur both at the application level as well as the infrastructure level, see Cause section
  3. Decentralized teams - both in roles and logistics, tools proliferation: average IT team member users 6-7 tools on a regular basis
  4. IT teams are mandated to "Do more with less", think more Apps but less SAPs (Systems Administration Professionals)
  5. Modern IT stack is complex and diverse (e.g. on-premise, cloud, SaaS, ABAP, Java, integration systems/API servers, front-end servers)
  6. Age of agile: Increased adoption of DevOps practices and monitoring as code, causes the flood of 'things' that needs to be monitored, and we're not even referring to IoT
  7. Higher Frequency of code deployments due to growing business needs to stay competitive and data-driven
  8. Higher Frequency of infrastructure changes primarily due to availability of platform technologies such as IaaS, PaaS, and Containers to meet application demands
  9. Additional challenges from enterprise cybersecurity threats, SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) requirements
  10. Incidence response and audit requirements becoming critical for: security breach, availability issues, performance degradation, regulatory compliance

Cause

Business disruptions can come from any of these SAP related problems, some documented from our SAP Monitoring Basis checklist:

  1. Job failures (e.g. Batch job aborts, excess job runtimes, BW process chain failures)
  2. Connectivity issues between business partner systems (e.g. RFC availability, communication latency)
  3. Transaction failures (e.g. program dumps, data errors, iDoc errors)
  4. Transaction delays (e.g. batch job delays, tRFC/qRFC queue delays)
  5. Poor performance (e.g. online, batch, updates, queue processing)
  6. Service component failures (e.g. Message server, Internet Connection Manager, Print services, DB issues)
  7. Security (e.g. user locks, expired service accounts)
  8. Code deployment errors (e.g. transport errors, support pack issues)
  9. Infrastructure outages (e.g. physical server failures, space issues, capacity utilization)
  10. Configuration (e.g. misconfiguration or under-configured services such as dialog & batch queues)

State of Monitoring report found that among 1500+ ITOM respondents of medium to large enterprises:

  • Top 5 monitoring challenges:
    1. Quickly remediating service disruptions
    2. Securing budget for the proper monitoring tools
    3. Reducing alert noise from the organization’s monitoring tools
    4. Delivering a product or business objective to schedule
    5. Quickly identifying service disruptions
  • Among respondents that reported over 100 alerts per day, only 26% are able to investigate and remediate the majority (75-100%) within 24 hours.
  • Few developers build monitoring into their code (SAP is slow in the DevOps world) and rely on others to monitor their enterprise application
  • Customer experience is king: Customer satisfaction has become the most important KPI, others include SLA compliance and MTTR (Mean time to repair/restore)

Solution

How does the enterprise monitoring industry go about meeting the increased challenges?  Only a troubling 13% agreed that they are very satisfied with their approach to monitoring, and just 11% are satisfied based on overall investment.  Based on survey respondents, here are some key focus:

  • Separate Signal from the Noise: with all leading indicators suggesting that alert volumes are likely to continue their upwards trend, IT teams will be compelled to find a way to make relevant the monitored data to effectively scale
  • Those who are satisfied with their monitoring strategy demonstrate far better rates of remediation, in addition to many other benefits including some outlined in our SAP Performance articles
  • Biggest IT monitoring challenge of 2017 and beyond:
    1. Improving monitoring strategy
    2. Modernizing monitoring architecture
    3. Effectively managing alerts
    4. Security
    5. Budget
    6. Cloud migration
    7. Centralizing and consolidating monitoring tools
    8. Scaling monitoring with growth
    9. Improving root cause identification
    10. Staffing qualified personnel
  • If you could make one change to your current monitoring strategy, what would it be?
    1. Refining overall strategy or processes
    2. Investing in new tools
    3. Centralizing/consolidating the monitoring stack
    4. Event management and alert correlation
    5. Automation
    6. Staffing qualified personnel
    7. Refining monitoring metrics
    8. Alert noise reduction
    9. Securing additional funding
    10. Improving incident management

Summary

EMT can have the edge in the battle to monitor SAP effectively as part of the growing organizational complexity and challenges, provided it focuses on digital transformation based on these key takeaways:

  • Doing more with less
    • Automate, automate, automate!
  • More tools, more moving parts
    • Select enterprise solutions which can adapt to the growing complexity and reduce the noise as well as administration overhead
  • Alert noise is not getting any quieter
    • Centralize and automate the monitoring processes while enhancing the ability to filter, correlate, and manage events in relation to SLA
  • An effective monitoring strategy is key
    • Develop a future-proof monitoring process with speed and agility that can scale with organizational growth
  • It all boils down to the customer experience
    • Bridge the great IT and Business divide by focusing on solutions that are great with usability, personalization, cross-platform support and customer service excellence.

Download v2.0 HANA and SAP Monitoring Comparison

Linh Nguyen

Written by Linh Nguyen

Linh was born in democratic Vietnam, escaped from the communist after the war as a boat-people refugee to Malaysia, subsequently immigrated to Australia where he attended high-school and completed dual-degrees in Computer Science & Computer Engineering in just 5 years. He started SAP career in Melbourne, then came to the US in the mid-1990s as a SAP technical consultant. He built a software and consulting company in Silicon Valley in 1996 named OZSoft and has been an entrepreneur with a passion to automate IT processes. In 2014, he started IT-Conductor, Inc. as CEO and co-founder along with David Stavisski, with the goal to help IT organizations to Stop Guessing and Start Managing by automating IT operations using a cloud-based platform IT-Conductor.

Topics: Automate, Application performance management, SAP monitoring, Alerts Management

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