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AIOps Platform for Oracle ERP


Bishnu Nayak, CTO

“The cloud is the only way to leapfrog from where you are to where you have to be and do it at a compelling [total cost of ownership; TCO] that’s both secure and drives the level of innovation,” said Oracle CEO Mark Hurd, sharing one of the five cloud predictions to come true by 2025.

Oracle strongly predicts and also executes on the strategy of digital disruption that will motivate companies to replace last year’s IT systems, including ERP, with an emerging cloud-based ERP solution. In 2016, a major transformation began that allowed CIOs to modernize their more than 20-years-old financial, supply chain and other core applications using cloud technologies. The maturity of cloud technologies in the last few years has offered IT executives a low-risk and agile platform to transform their business processes.

Though there is a strong push and incentive to run Oracle ERP as a public cloud, it’s likely that a significant number of enterprises will run their Order to Cash (O2C) or Procure to Pay (P2P) business processes in a hybrid environment where proprietary core applications will still continue to stay in customers’ on-premise private data centers.

Enterprise will consider one of three deployment options to run their O2C business flow:

  • Entirely in a public cloud. This is typically the case for medium-scale businesses.
  • Entirely on-prem (or on a private cloud). This is typical of very customized, complex or highly critical processes.
  • In a hybrid environment. This will likely be the case for most large-scale customers.

Fig:1 Three deployment models of Oracle ERP

As excited as I am thinking of the possibilities for innovation from cloud enablement of critical business process such as O2C and P2P, I see the challenges CIOs and infrastructure and application operations team will face during this transformation.

Some of these challenges include:

  • Business risk with migration to a hybrid cloud.
  • Complexity with troubleshooting business issues within the entire O2C process stack.
  • Management of capacity to deliver the quality of service.
  • IT compliance, auditing and reporting becomes cumbersome, requiring FTEs.

In addition to these operational challenges, CIOs will have to ensure lower TCO to run the business processes with required business SLAs, drive innovation and support business units to drive revenue.

I strongly believe an Artificial Intelligence platform for IT Operations (AIOps) platform, embedded with insights powered by big data analytics and machine learning algorithms with visibility into the moving pieces across business process, application and infrastructure entities, is the solution IT executives are looking for.

We at FixStream follow this trend very closely and have partnered with Oracle to address this issue for Oracle ERP customers. FixStream’s industry-recognized, emerging AIOps platform provides the correlation, analytics and visualization for the ERP environment deployed in a hybrid cloud. It correlates across three very important layers: business processes such as O2C and P2P; application components such as Oracle ERP, Fusion Middleware and other legacy environments; and compute, network and storage supporting these application entities.

Although the FixStream platform is extensible for all enterprise applications and business processes, I am going to focus on the O2C process to explain its capabilities and business value proposition.

1) Discovery

FixStream smart discovery is agentless. With just two user inputs – read-only user account credentials (we call it “service account”) and an IP address range – FixStream discovery scans through each IP and auto-discovers physical and virtual compute, storage and network entities, including configuration data, interface and links, and services running in them.  

2) Topology Mapping

FixStream discovery delivers the end-to-end topology of hybrid environment out-of-box which shows connections between network, storage, and compute entities across hypervisors, VMs, VNFs, physical server, network and storage entities.

3) Application Discovery and Dependency Mapping

FixStream auto-discovers the logical groups of interconnected service flows that represent critical applications such as ERP, tax applications, and credit and collection applications. The group entities are then automatically associated with the underlying physical and virtual compute, storage and network entities to build the application dependency maps. These become the foundation for operational use cases.

4) Business Process Hierarchy Mapping

FixStream’s platform provides an intuitive drag and drop UI interface for users to create the business process hierarchy. For example, O2C business processes can be quickly created by simply grouping Oracle ERP and Tax Service where the Oracle ERP application is running in the cloud and Tax Service is running on-prem, accessing external services. The application dependency map is auto-computed for the business process once the user completes the grouping.

5) Operational Analytics and Event Correlation

Operational data such as server performance metrics (CPU, memory, IO, disk), network performance (bandwidth, interface I/O, CPU, memory), storage (IOPS, latency, throughput etc.), log events, network faults thru SNMP and other alerts and metrics are fed to the FixStream platform from various sources using its open API ingestion layer.

The events are stored in a time series and correlated and analyzed via machine learning algorithms for patterns and anomalies to conduct root cause analysis.

6) Dashboard

Dashboards are personalized views keeping the users’ needs in mind. There are two categories of dashboards the FixStream platform provides: business and operations. Business dashboards are tailored for CIOs and VPs of Business Ops to derive insights into business process health and associated infrastructure health. Operations dashboards, on the other hand, use widgets to provide deep visibility into infrastructure.

Let’s walk through a real customer scenario and how the FixStream platform helped provide the solution to a problem.

Customer Oracle ERP is deployed in Oracle Cloud and is interacting with enterprise services for tax calculation, authentication and identity service and tax services hosted on-prem in the customer’s data center. The number of pending orders increased beyond the expected threshold during a specific time period because of a system failure while performing a credit check. Upon investigation, the root cause was a CPU starvation issue in the VMs in customer premise where Oracle DB was deployed for applications doing credit checks.

The FixStream platform automates identification of the root cause and visually pinpoints the issue in close to real-time, reducing the time required to detect the root cause from hours to minutes.

The dashboard widget for O2C business process will not only show the business metrics, but further organize them into legitimate business problem categories such as inadequate credit score or system errors. System errors include performance and health issues in compute, storage, network, application server and DB log files. The analysis of the business metrics is done in a time series to quickly pinpoint the exact window where there are system failures.

The system will then navigate the user to the event correlation window and provides visibility into the system components for the selected time. Event correlation algorithm analyzes server performance alerts, application service alerts, log events, network fault and performance alerts in time-series. It not only identifies patterns for root cause analysis but also provides recommendations for resolution and predicts issues before they impact business.

This clarity and specificity helps operations team to quickly identify the root cause of problems impacting the health of O2C business process flow and reduces MTTR from hours to minutes.

In summary, the FixStream platform can help businesses realize ROI in a number of key ways:

  • Reduce TCO of O2C Business Process
    The TCO of O2C business processes comprises many different factors, including: cost of infrastructure and software; operations costs/FTEs dedicated to the business process; cost of downtime; and MTTR to fix the problem. FixStream provides insights to reduce MTTR of O2C process from hours to minutes, and provides analytics for resource optimization and auditing and compliance across a hybrid environment. Discovery and mapping is automated by the platform across cross-vendor, cross-technology domains, drastically reducing the need for domain-specific operations teams. With the cost of an hour of service downtime ranging several hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the average MTTR around 4.2 hours (DEJ), the FixStream platform is positioned to reduce the TCO of O2C processes by millions of dollars.
  • Increase Revenue
    The FixStream platform provides the needed visibility into the O2C business process, improving the assurance of the service, increasing the brand reputation, and lowering business risks that are the key recipes for revenue growth.
  • Improve Innovation
    Enterprises can now automate the operations process via the FixStream platform and divert operations resources to the development of innovative services. The FixStream platform removes the barriers and business risk of rapidily deploying new innovative solutions.

Check out http://fixstream.com/erp/ for more information, as well as the 5 Steps to Successful Digital Transformation webinar, to watch a demo of FixStream 6.0 in action!

 

Bishnu Nayak
About Bishnu Nayak

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