IT-Conductor Blog

Automated Snoozing of SAP Systems - Why Should You Care?

Posted by Danica Esteban on Mar 30, 2021 1:23:25 PM

Starting and stopping SAP systems involve complex executions. Learn how you can simplify your administrative efforts with automated snoozing.

SAP is a vital component in most organizations worldwide as it allows better communication and efficient data management across different departments. As it is necessary for applications and devices to be functional and updated all the time, it is also highly recommended that SAP systems are well-maintained and optimized.

In a large environment, it usually involves a lot of people to shut down for maintenance and most of these activities have limited downtime. This can be very restricting for administrators because shutting down and starting up systems is time-consuming in itself.

Let’s say, for example, you only have 1 hour to perform an activity and it takes 15 minutes to have everybody join in to stop 10 different systems. Before you can even start with the implementation plan, 15 minutes were already wasted, and considering the fact that you need another 15 minutes to bring everything back up, you are left with 30 minutes to perform the actual activity. This poses some risks to the business because the limited time frame restricts your ability to perform troubleshooting should an issue suddenly arises.

The whole concept of automated snoozing helps solve this problem through the mass start and stop operations. Depending on how systems are designed and built, you can choose to execute snoozing across different systems or instances simultaneously. Doing so saves you a lot of time. In turn, you’ll have more time to perform the actual implementation activity.

Should you be allowed to perform the maintenance activity outside business hours or with an extended change window, manually performing the start and stop operations can still inconvenience you as the administrator as it requires some sophistication to execute.

Automation is the enemy of inconvenience.

Organizations can almost always resort to automation when solving administrative problems. With automation, shutting down and restarting SAP systems can be executed on schedule or on-demand. Depending on what is required by the business, administrators have more control over these maintenance activities as automation reduces or totally eliminates the manual effort performed as they execute start and stop operations.

Why Should You Automate Snoozing in SAP Systems?

Automating administrative tasks should be part of the efforts in driving digital transformation within organizations. Apart from the obvious reason that automation greatly reduces the time and effort of administrators, there are more indicators as to why organizations should consider automating these snoozing tasks.

Below are some of the benefits that will help you decide if it makes sense for your organization to implement automated snoozing for SAP systems.

1. Simplified Workflow for Maintenance Activities

Most of the time, maintenance activities do not require starting and stopping the whole stack. In fact, the production environment rarely ever stops. When you perform maintenance activities, you’ll either only shutdown the hardware or the underlying virtual infrastructure for the updates to take effect, or probably, just restart the applications without the need to boot up the machines.

It may sound straightforward to perform but starting and stopping SAP systems involve complex executions, especially in large organizations. This is where automation comes into play. Automated snoozing allows you to simplify the workflow of your maintenance activities. Depending on what tool you use to execute system restart, you’ll be able to lessen the number of steps you need to perform if you have automated snoozing in place.

2. Reduced Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

For SAP systems that have already migrated to the cloud, having an automated snoozing in your environment saves you some costs when resources are automatically triggered to shut down. Let’s say, for example, your business only operates between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. You don’t have to keep your resources running from 7:01 p.m. until 6:59 a.m. the next day. Automated snoozing gives you the capability to turn off your resources on schedule.

Another use case would be snoozing your dev environments outside business hours. You don’t need your test systems running 24/7 and having the capability to stop them completely and start them again for later use can significantly save your business some costs, especially for on-demand compute, storage (such as backup), and data transfer.

As they always say in the cloud — you only pay for what you use. Take note though that you need to shut down the virtual machine in order for you to save some costs because in the cloud, you pay for three things — compute, storage, and network. Stopping an application or a database will not save you some subscription costs because technically, you’re still consuming resources.

But regardless of whether or not your SAP system is already in the cloud, your business will benefit when you implement an automated snoozing solution in your environment because eliminating the need for administrators to perform these manual and repetitive tasks helps your business save some operational costs and therefore, contributes to the reduction of TCO.

Automated Snoozing of SAP Systems Using IT-Conductor

Starting and stopping are two operations that you can perform within the IT-Conductor platform. Depending on what particular system, database, or application that you want to start and stop, you can simply click a button and it will automatically execute the start and stop operations without logging in to the system. This gives you more dexterity when it comes to performing maintenance activities.

You can further automate snoozing by scheduling the Start and Stop operations to run on a particular time and date but before we show you how it is important that you understand the relationship between the different components in IT-Conductor.

How the Operations Work in ITC

IT-Conductor automatically discovers the relationship between the different application components and Operations leverage that knowledge to dynamically assemble start and stop actions on these components and arrange them in the appropriate sequence.

IT-Conductor Automated SAP System Snoozing

Figure 1: Sample Start and Stop Operations in IT-Conductor
 
 The Operations are recursive so they automatically cascade down to the depth of the discovered environment including all related components that support start and stop operations. In the above example, START DBMS HOZ and STOP DBMS HOZ are actually sub-processes that consist of a sequence of relevant activities required to start and stop the HANA DB instance. The same applies to START/STOP Linux Host which is a sub-process that may involve shutting down the OS then stopping the VM on the cloud/virtualization level or via IPMI/SMASH command.

How to Automate Start and Stop Operations in ITC

To further understand how it works, there are two simple steps that you need to know:

1. Create a schedule.

 Triggering a start and stop operations at a specific time and date is possible by creating a schedule. When you navigate to the schedule tab of a particular SAP system, you can see that you have the option to define the date, time window, and other parameters as seen in the image below.

Automated Snoozing of SAP Systems - Schedule Window in IT-Conductor

Figure 2: Schedule Window in IT-Conductor

IMPORTANT: As you create a schedule for your start and stop operations, choose the following options for the Context section:

  • Context Mode: Single

  • Context Class: SAP System

  • Context Object: Select an SAP System you would like to Start or Stop

2. Associate START or STOP activity definition with the schedule.

Once you have defined the schedule, you need to associate it with the START or STOP activity.

  • Navigate to Top Menu → Management → Process Definitions

  • Locate START or STOP, click the Schedule tool icon (or Menu → Edit Schedules)

  • Check the relevant schedule and Save:

ITC-Managing Scheduled Operations

Figure 3: Manage START Schedules Window in IT-Conductor

The schedule will create an instance of START or STOP only once a day, you should define separate schedules for start and stop or create a copy of START/STOP definition and change their start/stop time, then they can be assigned to the same schedule - this will result in START/STOP instances created at the beginning of the day and waiting to execute until their respective start times comes.

Other Ways to Snooze SAP Systems

There are other ways on how you can start and stop SAP systems. Below are some of the common ways that administrators from the SAP community have been doing over the years.

1. Using SAP Management Console

SAP Management Console (SAP MC) is a tool developed to provide a common framework for centralized system management. Through SAP MC, you can centrally monitor and perform basic administration tasks on all the SAP systems in an organization. Starting and stopping SAP systems are two of the most used features in SAP MC.

In essence, both starting and stopping activities can be performed by navigating to the system node that you want to start and stop. Once the SAP system or instance starts, it should be displayed as one of the instances on the localhost. This way, administrators will be able to monitor and manage them from the console. The system icons for all running nodes are displayed as green. Yellow indicates that the node is either starting, stopping, or has a warning and red indicates an error. When a system or an instance is stopped, it will eventually be in offline mode and the color of the system icon will turn gray.

Learn more about the SAP Management Console.

2. Using SAP Microsoft Management Console

If your SAP system is built around a Windows environment, you’ve probably heard about SAP Microsoft Management Console (SAP MMC). While SAP MC is platform-independent, the SAP MMC Snap-in is only used if you want to manage SAP systems from Windows PCs. By default, it is already installed with any SAP application servers on Windows.

Starting and stopping SAP systems and instances in SAP MMC is basically similar to how it is performed in SAP MC.

Learn more about SAP MMC Snap-In.

3. Using Computing Center Management System

Computing Center Management System (CCMS) is a set of tools that you can use to monitor, control, and configure your SAP system. It supports unattended system administration function which can be useful if you want to execute some jobs without manual intervention. You can also use CCMS to perform analysis and distribute the workloads of clients across different application server instances. Lastly, you can also utilize its capability to display the resource usage of all the components in your SAP system.

Starting and stopping the SAP system and its database via CCMS is possible using the program icons within the application or through scripts. Depending on the underlying environment of the SAP system, different procedures can be performed. It is also important to note that when starting and stopping SAP instances using CCMS, there should be at least one SAP instance that has already been started.

Learn more about Computing Center Management System (CCMS).

4. Using PowerShell Scripts

PowerShell is a cross-platform task automation and configuration management framework for the Windows environment. Using PowerShell to start and stop SAP systems, instances, processes, and services involves executing commands using a command line. To execute a series of commands, you can utilize creating PowerShell scripts or text files with a .ps1 file extension that contains the set of PowerShell statements. This is useful if you want to execute start and stop commands involving several processes and services. 

5. Using Crontab file to run cron jobs

Cron is a background process used to execute tasks, more commonly known as cron jobs, in Linux systems. Using a crontab file, administrators used to create scripts to execute startsap and stopsap commands on a given day, date, and time. Although, these shell scripts were no longer included in any of the kernel packages released after April 2015. You can find more information about it here.

You can still, however, use cron jobs to start processing jobs on-demand. Depending on what specific execution you need to perform in a system, you can utilize cron jobs to initiate a particular process or service.

6. Using SAPControl

SAPControl is a web service interface that you can use to manage basic administrative tasks such as starting and stopping, monitoring run-time state, viewing logs and configuration files, and many more.

There are several functions that can be executed when starting and stopping a particular SAP system. You can use the “Start”, “Stop”, “RestartInstance”, and “Shutdown” functions to instruct an instance to start, stop, restart, and shutdown respectively. Alternatively, you can use “StartSystem”, “StopSystem” and “RestartSystem” to start, stop, or restart a complete SAP system or some parts of it.

Learn more about How to use the SAPControl Web Service.

7. Using Azure Automation

 For SAP systems that have already been migrated to the cloud, particularly in Azure, there is a service called Azure Automation that allows you to automate administrative tasks and orchestrate actions, including start and stop within Azure and across external systems. If you have been managing the execution of jobs using PowerShell, it will be easier for you to utilize this service as it is built on the PowerShell workflow.

8. Using Azure PowerApps

 Azure PowerApps, on the other hand, allows building automation solutions in a quick manner by utilizing the built-in components within the application. So, instead of creating scripts and runbooks manually, you can develop a PowerApps application to execute a particular activity that you want to automate.

For starting and stopping SAP systems, the SAPSnooze PowerApps application can be used. There is already an existing SDK that you can start with if the SAP systems or components that you want to snooze are already in Azure.

What Makes IT-Conductor Different

Starting and stopping SAP systems and their components can be performed using several tools. However, the question now lies on how will you make the snoozing automated in a sense that you can either trigger the start and stop operations in just a few clicks or totally eliminate the need to do that by setting up a reoccurring maintenance activity that can automatically run on a definite schedule?

That’s what makes IT-Conductor different from all the available tools out there. Regardless of what type of environment you have, we use the same structural concept in designing how the different SAP components in your system are enrolled in the platform. The uniformity allows us to orchestrate different types of environments which enable your organization to be flexible as you scale your business.

At IT-Conductor, we can help you design an end-to-end automation solution that will best fit your requirements as a business.

Schedule a DEMO

 

Danica Esteban

Written by Danica Esteban

Danica is a tech-savvy writer specialized in writing B2B content for technology companies and SaaS brands. She's an engineering graduate who ventured into a career in the IT industry. At 28, she decided to leave the corporate world and pursued her passion for writing. Her background as an IT Professional for nearly 7 years and her love for technology helped build her skills which she now uses in her writing business and other ventures as a digital entrepreneur.

Topics: Automate, SAP Basis Automation, SAP on AWS, SAP on Azure, Process Orchestration, DevOps Automation

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