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.