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Monthly Archives : April 2018

How AIOps Can Ensure SAP ERP Performance, Availability

How AIOps Can Ensure SAP ERP Performance, Availability

By Bishnu Nayak

All major businesses these days use enterprise resource planning (ERP) platforms. You probably use one yourself.

As you probably already know, ERP software helps organizations more efficiently handle billing, customer management, human resources matters, ordering, provisioning, supply chain management, and more. ERP software also can allow for better decision-making and increased agility.

Clearly, ERP systems have a lot of functionality. And businesses rely on that functionality to keep their organizations up-and-running and the wheels of industry turning.

A Complex Situation

Because these platforms do so much, they are quite complex and consume lots of resources. ERP systems employ an array of software running on various infrastructure in many data centers.

So there are lots of moving pieces, and those piece parts can be widely distributed. That creates a lot of opportunity for problems that can adversely impact ERP performance and customer SLAs.

For example, a problem with a server or a network switch or router can cause a kink in a company’s invoicing or order booking process. This kind of thing can interfere with an organization providing its customers with their bills.

You don’t need me to tell you that is a big problem.

The Cost of Delay & Outages

This kind of a situation can confuse and frustrate customers. Worse yet, it can mean late or lost payments, creating cash flow issues for the company providing the product or service.

But that’s just one example of the kind of thing that can go wrong. There are plenty of real-life examples of how ERP- and IT-related outages hurt businesses.

A few years back HSBC had a problem with a software update. As a result, thousands of the bank’s customers couldn’t cash their paychecks. Worse yet, this occurred just before a holiday weekend.

More recently, the failure of a power system in a British Airways data center resulted in canceled flights affecting more than 75,000 passengers. The airlines ended up paying $68 million in passenger reimbursement costs. And its parent company experienced a 2.8 percent stock price drop.

According to Gartner, the average cost of IT downtime is $5,600 per minute – or $300,000 an hour.

So businesses clearly want to avoid these kinds of scenarios. But it can be challenging to identify and address the sources of such issues. That challenge is even more daunting when it involves a distributed, multi-application ERP.

That’s why FixStream introduced AIOps in SAP. This solution provides multilayer correlation for SAP ERP users like you.

Ensuring Availability & Performance

AIOps in SAP allows you to quickly understand problems so you can take action to correct them before it impacts your customers and your business. That helps your business to increase customer satisfaction, better retain customers, protect your reputation, attract new customers, and grow your customer spend.

The top layer of FixStream’s AIOps in SAP focuses on business process KPI and SLA. It knows how many orders should be processed in an hour. It also understands how long it should take for an order to be processed from beginning to end.

The application layer is the second tier of AIOps in SAP.  It addresses every application in SAP (or Oracle, the other major ERP supplier). That could be a server, a database, or a business process defined within the application tier.

The third layer is the infrastructure layer. That’s made up of physical and virtual compute, network, and storage resources.

FixStream’s AIOps correlates data from those three layers and applies an algorithm on top of it. This data correlation and analysis enables AIOps in SAP to address a variety of use cases.

The Use Cases

For example, AIOps in SAP flags when an SLA violation occurs because processing of customer orders is stuck. FixStream’s AIOps then sets out to identify the source of the trouble via data correlation and analysis.

AIOps in SAP also can predict when things are headed for trouble. It does that by identifying repeating patterns and dependencies.

For example, FixStream’s AIOps can understand from past data that Black Friday is a high-volume order day. And it can see that when you have more than X number of orders, your order processing getter slower. This kind of information enables your business to address that potential problem – by allocating more resources to enable fast ordering during Black Friday – so your ordering process continues to move forward at the desired pace.

FixStream also addresses capacity management. So if, for example, the number of orders your ERP processes has been ramping up monthly over the past nine months, AIOps in SAP reveals that. FixStream also provides you with a holistic view of what you have and what your business needs in terms of compute power, network resources, and storage. That means you won’t be caught off-guard by changing resource requirements.

There’s one more really important thing that AIOps in SAP addresses: IT compliance.

FixStream automates IT compliance efforts, which today are typically done using manual processes. We enable that via FixStream’s data explorer capability.

Our data explorer provides automated, up-to-date reports of all domains. That reduces the time it takes for IT personnel to ensure compliance.

As a result, IT teams can more quickly and easily see if the organization is running the latest software release, has the needed patches in place, and the like. That beats today’s manually-intensive audits, which require more IT team resources and can take one or two months to complete. So IT team can focus on value-added efforts and spend less time just keeping the lights on.

ERP Assurance & IT Resource Optimization

Forrester has reported that 69 percent of IT budgets go to maintenance and operations. The other 31 percent go to new projects – with just 14 percent of that going to investments for customer-facing and new business opportunities.

But there’s a widespread acknowledgement that digital transformation is changing the role of IT and how IT dollars should be allocated.

So IT teams need sophisticated – but easy-to-use – tools so they can ensure the performance and availability of key applications. That includes the applications supported by ERP systems, on which their employers and customers rely.

FixStream AIOps facilitates digital transformation by automating the discovery and mapping of critical processes like order-to-cash to the underlying application and infrastructure entities. By doing so, it enables IT operations to analyze mission-critical business processes, reduce mean time to repair, and predict occurrence of issues across any portion of their hybrid IT stack.

It provides customizable, single-pane-of-glass views of SAP ERP businesses processes and their operational health. It groups applications into logical business processes like O2C, P2P, SCM, and eCommerce. It provides auto-discovery of SAP ERP business processes and applications across hybrid IT environments. And it visualizes data to help people easily see what’s happening.

And, as noted earlier, it does automated correlation of SAP ERP business KPIs to application and system errors; allows for faster root cause identification of SAP ERP issues; and detects anomalies and patterns to allow businesses to address issues before they affect business operations and customers.

In my next blog I’ll tackle the subject of migration.

FixStream Accelerates the Delivery of Business Workloads in a Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Environment

As originally published on Nutanix.com

This guest post was authored by Bishnu Nayak, FixStream Inc. CTO

In September 2016, I met and presented FixStream’s Algorithmic IT Operations (AIOps) platform to Nutanix’s Alliance and Alliance Engineering team. They noticed very quickly that FixStream addresses an important need for their customers – delivering an operational analytics platform that ensures service assurance of critical business workloads deployed on the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud infrastructure.

Built on cutting-edge Big Data technologies, FixStream’s correlation, analytics and visualization platform provides application-centric visibility in a hybrid IT environment by correlating across end-user transactions, applications and infrastructure layers. Its platform adds tremendous value in customers’ heterogeneous environment where Nutanix Enterprise Cloud is deployed, along with other multi-vendor infrastructure technologies.

We decided to work with Nutanix as our first HCI partner for several reasons – first we were impressed with their architectural approach to a hyperconverged solution; built ground up while keeping ecosystem innovation in mind. Second Nutanix presence in IT is very complementary to FixStream’s strategy in that both Nutanix and FixStream’s solutions enable customer to accelerate migration to a hybrid cloud environment.

Last (but not least) we have always been intrigued by the partner-centricity embedded in the company culture and vision. it’s pervasive in how Nutanix onboards, validates and market with its industry peers and partners.

Per Gartner, algorithmic IT operations platforms enable I&O leaders to meet the proactive, personal and dynamic demands of digital business by transforming the very nature of IT operations work via unprecedented, automated insight

“AIOps platforms utilize Big Data, modern machine learning, and other advanced analytics technologies to directly and indirectly enhance IT operations (monitoring, automation, and service desk) functions with proactive, personal, and dynamic insight.” (Gartner – “Innovation Insight for Algorithmic IT Operations Platforms”– Colin Fletcher, Refreshed: 26 April 2017 | Published: 24 March 2016)

Soon after our initial meeting, we entered into an official partnership agreement with Nutanix and with their support, developed a solution that was released in FixStream 6.0. The Nutanix alliance team has been extremely collaborative working with our R&D and engineering teams, ensuring the successful delivery of the desired capabilities.

FixStream delivers much-needed visibility and analytics for enterprises to successfully deploy critical business applications into Nutanix-powered (AHV or VMware hypervisor) environments and troubleshoot, plan and maintain going forward.

The FixStream platform:

  • Auto-discovers compute, storage, network entities from the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud environment by using Nutanix REST APIs and other FixStream native data collection techniques
  • Provides topology analytics across the entire customer network and visually represents how Nutanix Enterprise Cloud appliances connect with the end to end enterprise network, including virtual and physical networks, links, and interfaces
  • Auto-discovers application services such as app servers, databases, and web servers, running on Nutanix managed VMs, network flows, and available paths in/out into other entities in the network
  • Auto-discovers application dependencies and delivers application maps by connecting the underlying physical, virtual and logical entities in network, compute and storage with dynamic computation of network and storage path for application flows. It’s like Google Maps for critical enterprise business applications
  • Collects performance metrics, alerts and faults from all entities in the map and algorithmically correlate the events using time series analytics to identify patterns and anomalies. It then provides proactive and predictive remedial actions. For example: a business application’s performance slows down every Monday at peak hour. At the same time, the VM where the application service is running runs at high CPU, and the pattern repeats every week. FixStream identifies the trend and provides a remedial recommendation to proactively provision more CPU to the VM
  • Stores collected data contextually in a linearly scalable backend search database, allowing users to automate IT compliance and reporting functions

FixStream for the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud environment enables significant ROI for enterprises customers. According to the Digital Enterprise Journal (DEJ – 2017), 80% of companies surveyed experienced an average MTTR of 4.2 hours. The cost of a minute of service outage was $72,000 if revenue was lost. FixStream can reduce MTTR to minutes, therefore allowing companies to potentially save millions of dollars.

As technology transforms, it requires millions of data points to be manually correlated for daily operational activities such as planning, migration, workload placement, troubleshooting, and change management. This makes the activities extremely expensive, risky for business, and prone to errors.

FixStream automates these tasks by correlating these data points across transactions, applications and infrastructure.

The FixStream solution for the Nutanix environment delivers the following key business values:

  • Accelerates migration to Nutanix – With the end-to-end visualization, correlation and dependency mapping capabilities of FixStream, enterprises can now migrate from older infrastructure technologies to Nutanix HCI technology significantly reducing unforeseen business risks. The FixStream topology map, application dependency map, and data explorer capabilities provide the analytics required to plan and execute the transformation activities while lowering cost via FTE reduction and assuring performance of business services.
  • Automates troubleshooting of business outages and reduces MTTR from hours to minutes – FixStream’s application map and time series event correlation pinpoints the exact root cause of the problem in the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud infrastructure, as well as connectivity to larger corporate network connected to Nutanix real-time. This reduces the MTTR from hours to minutes. The FixStream platform proactively identifies performance bottlenecks and notifies the operations team to take corrective actions.
  • Resource Optimization and Application Workload Management – Through its performance Heatmap, FixStream provides analytics to operations team to realign resource allocation for optimization and cost reduction. Additionally, the Heatmap provides insights on available resources for new workload placement based on specific requirements for memory, disk and CPU. Automates IT Compliance and Reporting – Cross-domain, cross-vendor data across network, storage, compute and application are discovered by FixStream and stored in the backend ElasticSearch database. This allows allows users to query data for hierarchical output as needed for compliance analysis and reporting. The automation of this quarterly IT compliance activity significantly reduces costs for enterprises.

We are very excited to jointly launch this solution in the market and help Nutanix customers realize the benefits of FixStream’s innovative AIOps platform capabilities. For more details on this solution, please visit our website.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and not those of Nutanix, Inc. or any of its other employees or affiliates. This blog may contain links to external websites that are not part of Nutanix.com. Nutanix does not control these sites and disclaims all responsibility for the content or accuracy of any external site. Our decision to link to an external site should not be considered an endorsement of any content on such site.

© 2017 Nutanix, Inc. All rights reserved. Nutanix is a trademark of Nutanix, Inc., registered in the United States and other countries. All other brand names mentioned herein are for identification purposes only and may be the trademarks of their respective holder(s).

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