In an effort to become a one-stop shop for all of an enterprise’s automation needs, SAP has continued to release more modules and new capabilities. While these ever-increasing capabilities open up more options for enterprise clients, they also increase the risk of a potentially devastating system outage.
Research shows how frighteningly valid these concerns are. A recent IDC report estimated that outages can cost a company between $500,000 to $1 million or more per hour. By research powerhouse Gartner unplanned downtime cost of $5,600 per minute or $300,000 per hour.In response, many companies have deployed a veritable army of SAP experts to keep their systems running 24 x 7. They must not only ensure uptime, but also maintain peak system-wide performance while enforcing company policies and guarding against potential internal and external security threats.
SAP monitoring is challenging
SAP Basis teams manage all SAP administration, maintenance and ongoing monitoring throughout the organization’s systems. The basis work is complex but almost invisible when all systems are working correctly.
Syslink research shows that a whopping 50% of SAP basis engineers see their most significant challenge as the time spent on unpredictable issues. Industry research shows similar results. A recent study from Veeam showed that when comparing key findings from 2014 to 2016 one can see there is an increase in unplanned downtime of 1.4 to 1.9 hours for mission-critical applications and 4.0 to 5.8 hours for non-mission-critical applications. Similarly they showed that the average recovery time objective (RTO) for mission-critical applications is 3.0 hours vs. service level agreements (SLAs) requiring 1.6 hours. And that current recovery point objective (RPO) is 4.2 hours, but should ideally be 2.9 hours.
While SAP Basis team’s duties are absolutely necessary, they are also tedious, error-prone, and rather undesirable. Monitoring duties prevent experienced and ambitious SAP administrators from pursuing more valuable and visible business initiatives. Ironically using one of the most common tools in the market, the bulk of the monitoring effort is spent verifying processes that are working properly rather than addressing issues that aren’t. Those who find potential threats to high availability are usually tasked with fixing them and cleaning up any data inconsistencies they happened to have left behind.
Moreover using the same tool, adding new monitored elements is a long and complicated process. Even the most highly trained and experienced teams find it difficult to sustain consistent monitoring and service levels across an SAP installation with its accompanying dissimilar system elements. With so much time and effort expended collecting gigabytes of statistics in hopes of no action being required, it’s no wonder that SAP system monitoring is regarded by IT leaders as an unpleasant afterthought. Yet, as painful as it is, high availability monitoring is absolutely necessary. The downside of an outage is simply too great.
SAP Monitoring Challenges
Competing solutions in this market space guard against the dangers of unplanned downtime, some of which are offered as free native add-ons. However, nearly all suffer from the same drawbacks that make conventional SAP system monitoring such a time-devouring and costly proposition.
Setting up SAP system monitoring can be laborious to say the least. Often, an IT department has suffered through months and even years deploying a monitoring package throughout an enterprise. Depending on the modules in production, monitoring solutions may require specialized versions of software, further complicating installation and configuration. Using these applications for daily operations is time-consuming as well. The most mundane tasks still require significant human involvement of working through a daily checklist. This forces IT professionals into a constant reactive stance, which is always less effective in the long run than proactive and preventative steps.
The time-intensive nature of conventional monitoring tools keeps businesses on a never-ending treadmill as business rules change. When relationships with other firms shift or SAP makes automated system updates, a whole new set of possible inconsistencies opens up, each requiring more staff ramp-up time. Additionally, SAP service releases have been known to change API touchpoints, rendering custom-developed modules unusable. Together with high turnover of IT personnel and shifting best practice standards, these changes lengthen response times and threaten the goal of consistent daily system monitoring.
Most monitoring tools typically lack the at-a-glance report monitoring refinement that leaders expect. Generating reports is cumbersome, and slicing information for the needs of different departmental leaders extremely complicated. Worse yet, many analysts are forced to record these metrics in spreadsheets, which almost always leads to inaccurate, outdated readings. As a result, transparency suffers, which threatens promised service level agreements (SLAs). Complications of daily reporting are only magnified with audits and compliance reports, which are slow, laborious and as painful to produce as they are to read.
High Human Resource Involvement
Every IT leader knows how difficult it is to recruit, hire, and motivate good SAP administrators. But in this era of increasing workloads and decreasing talent pools, that task is becoming even harder. Keeping quality staff members happy in an environment of constant fire-fighting is becoming nearly impossible. System outages require engineers to determine root cause analysis and get systems operational again under intense pressure from executives whose bottom lines are suffering. Administrators must also constantly self-educate to keep up with the latest SAP changes and capabilities, so they can address the next problem with shorter turnaround times. These dynamics inevitably lead to frustration, job dissatisfaction, and eventually costly employee turnover.
SAP is the most powerful enterprise business software package on the market today. But its all-encompassing nature means companies are vulnerable to costly outages. While monitoring is an absolute necessity, it becomes a very costly proposition due to complexities of installation, operation and maintenance – to say nothing of the high-priced SAP administrators and consultants they require.
The SAP enterprise needs a solution that simplifies monitoring – reducing the investment in time and manpower so that the IT department can take on initiatives that provide greater business value. At the same time, the solution must provide preventive maintenance capabilities and the robust, customizable reporting needed by the many stakeholders in a medium to large-scale operation.
Xandria by syslink offers all these capabilities and more, with an intuitive, easy-to-use interface and outstanding support. Created by experts with a deep understanding of SAP best practices, Xandria simplifies operations, reduces complexity, and delivers superior e-business advantages for SAP clients. For more information or a live demonstration visit the link below.
Great article, thanks! We use Syslink (www.syslinkams.com) for our SAP monitoring and love it.