Resolving SAP Downtime & Visualization Challenges with PowerConnect & Splunk

PowerConnect for SAP & Splunk

Resolving SAP Downtime & Visualization Challenges

Resolving SAP Downtime & Visualization Challenges with PowerConnect & Splunk

There are several challenges that organizations face when running SAP solutions, especially when their SAP infrastructure is complex and layered. Because SAP is so intricately designed, it’s not easy to investigate problems that arise – much less understand what prompted the issue. It takes a trained set of eyes to poke around the system, and even then, there’s often little means by which to identify the forensic details needed to prevent future issues. In other words: visibility is a problem.

At the same time, SAP is the basis of extremely critical business functions for all organizations (both large and small) that use SAP’s software. This means that any extended period of SAP downtime can be extremely costly - for some organizations it can be at a scale of hundreds of thousands of dollars per hour. Thus, a solution to SAP downtime and failures, even locally, should be considered mandatory for CIOs seeking watertight operations.

Gaining visibility into SAP systems will serve to not only increase security – it will also improve operational efficiency around core business processes by automatically detecting (and, in some cases, resolving) frequently repeated errors. Let’s take a closer look at the importance of SAP intelligence and its potential to transform your big-picture IT infrastructure.

Technology & Advisory: Crucial to Optimizing SAP Solutions

Oftentimes, organizations running SAP systems won’t even recognize that a problem has occurred until a customer calls the Help Desk to point it out. Then, by the time someone can QA the system, the problem has already resolved itself – and there’s no way to determine exactly what caused it, or even what time or in what location it actually took place. 

We tend to use the analogy of a Mumbai traffic jam: By the time a police officer has gotten through all the jammed-up cars and buses to the crux, it’s too late. Traffic has already begun flowing again. Therefore, whatever caused the traffic jam in the first place is impossible to prevent in the future. 

An SAP intelligence system gets ahead of this cycle by functioning like round-the-clock traffic controller. It allows organizations to identify failures in real-time – or, alternatively, to go back into the system and see exactly what was going on at a certain point. This data makes debugging possible. An operations or applications manager can dig up the granular insight they need, not over the course of many days, but in a matter of minutes – and then determine the most appropriate recourse for the problem at hand. 

So, is the investment worthwhile? We certainly believe so. When combined with an advisory service, SAP intelligence reliably puts an end to the cycle of invisible SAP downtime and keeps customers from encountering issues firsthand. Looking ahead, it also sets the stage for a smoother, more efficient transition to S/4HANA (whether on-premises or in the cloud) with fewer licensing and compliance issues to contend with. 

What to Look for in an SAP Intelligence Solution

An SAP intelligence solution is most effective when designed simply and intuitively (in stark contrast to SAP itself). When seeking out a solution, organizations should prioritize those with streamlined implementation to decrease time-to-value, as well as out-of-the-box monitoring capabilities featuring visual insights and user-friendly dashboards. In other words, you shouldn’t need to employ an in-house SAP expert with 15+ years of experience to get the most out of your SAP intelligence solution.

However – the provider from whom you purchase an intelligence solution should offer a team of highly trained SAP specialists (with a hands-on experience level that far exceeds 15 years) to offer support and when needed, advisory services, to help customers interpret and incorporate feedback on unusual events or failures that may occur.

If your team is having a repeated issue with, for example, a particular piece of technology and IDocs when running an integration engine with PI/PO, your solutions provider should be familiar with that exact scenario and be capable of providing comprehensive support. The software itself is important, but the team that stands behind it is perhaps even more critical.

Again, SAP is incredibly complex. As the technology evolves, so do the potential errors or weak links in the chain of IT communication. Look for a SAP intelligence solution that accounts for this ongoing evolution and that incorporates customer feedback directly into new iterations of the software.

Ultimately, your organization will benefit most from a solution that can run quietly in the background, doing its job with little interference – and quickly handling blips with the assistance of a qualified advisory team. Whether your organization has 10 SAP systems or 600, ensure your SAP intelligence solution is set up for rapid deployment and long-term ease of use. Simplicity, at the end of the day, is often the difference between money back in your pockets or money down the drain.

Introducing PowerConnect from SoftwareONE: Benefits & Use Cases

Thinking about taking the leap into holistic SAP intelligence? SoftwareONE is proud to introduce PowerConnect, a SAP-certified solution that sends important telemetry about what’s going on inside your SAP system to Splunk in near real-time. The solution allows organizations to meet security compliance requirements, reduce P1 issues by 30 percent and cut down the mean time to repair (MTTR) by 70 percent on mission-critical applications and systems – all while enhancing SAP performance and filtering real-time insights and telemetry data into rich visual dashboards. 

PowerConnect facilitates greater visibility and control over a wide range of business use cases, including IT operations, security, and business data intelligence. 

From an operations standpoint, PowerConnect allows users to identify commonly repeated issues and prevent consequent instances of downtime. Oftentimes, system downtime is caused by a small number of issues – maybe three or four – that occur over and over again. 

Identify Weaknesses & Reduce Downtimes

Consider a customer with a recurring problem where transaction logs in the database keep filling up to capacity. Perhaps this customer understands this is a particular weakness in their system, but it’s always triggered by something different. However, because it's a weak point, if anything crosses through that weak point and causes a problem, there’s an inevitable failure - the chain always breaks at that weak point. 

This customer could benefit immensely from PowerConnect: The software allows them to monitor that weak link, keeping an eye out for certain symptoms. If, for example, the database logs grow dramatically or just do not empty, PowerConnect runs a predictive analysis via ML to look deeper into the transaction log in the database. If it's going to run out of space in the next two hours, PowerConnect sends out a P1 alert – allowing the issue to be addressed before the entire system goes down. 

Enhance Your SAP Security

In terms of security, PowerConnect solves for another key use case. As we know, SAP is something of a black hole when it comes to understanding what’s going on “under the hood.” Without an intelligence solution, uncovering unusual login behavior, for example, is practically impossible.  

With PowerConnect, users can find out whether someone with the same user I.D. logged into SAP from entirely different terminals – like two different laptops – on the same day, or even detect logins in two different countries that qualify as a land speed violation. Suspicious activity can therefore be caught and addressed before a serious problem occurs. 

Gaining proactive visibility may even prevent losses into the hundreds of millions of dollars, depending on the organization. In addition, for organizations operating within a regulated industry, like the FDA, PowerConnect solves for compliance-related concerns. Should a breach occur, a user can deliver a comprehensive compliance report stating exactly what happened, when, and according to what sequence of events.  

Leverage Big Data Automation

By merging PowerConnect and Splunk, SoftwareONE created an SAP solution that offers unprecedented scalability for big data. Splunk is unique in its ability to scale almost infinitely, handling workloads north of 10 to 15 terabytes of data per day. Not only can Splunk ingest and sort through massive amounts of data quickly – but it also operates without a metadata requirement, which would normally need to be attached to the data stream on its way in. 

When data must be defined before it is sent – with, for instance, identifiers on key fields, indexes, strings, and numbers – it creates a limitation that reduces overall processing efficiency. Splunk solves this problem with its “schema on read” abilities, meaning that as data comes in, it automates the metadata assignment process. This means that, in combination with PowerConnect, Splunk is capable of understanding the context for the data a user needs without that user having to tell the system what it looks like. 

By using PowerConnect to access SAP information in real-time and by leveraging Splunk ML, AI, advanced big data, and visualization capabilities, organizations unlock valuable insight into their systems that not only improve efficiency, but that also prevent downtime and losses. This newly gained ability to proactively manage the health of your SAP landscape changes the game for CIOs and their surrounding teams – and, ultimately, everyone gets to sleep a little better at night.

Final Thoughts

Complex SAP environments, especially those with siloed support organizations, require a more comprehensive solution to monitoring and intelligence. Downtime and IT outages can be incredibly expensive – yet visibility into SAP is inherently lacking, making it difficult for users to investigate problems or failures that occur. 

SoftwareONE offers a solution to SAP visibility challenges with PowerConnect and Splunk. Via PowerConnect’s rich insights, customers access real-time and historic SAP telemetry data that’s ready for analysis straight out of the box – and Splunk visualizations build a more holistic picture of what’s going on inside the SAP landscape. With these tools deployed, your organization is armed and prepared to prevent security incidents, downtime, and unexpected losses both now and in the future as SAP continues to evolve. 

Unlock Valuable SAP Insights

Solve your visibility challenges with PowerConnect for SAP and Splunk.

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Author

Warwick Chai

Warwick Chai

Director SAP Technology & Innovation

SAP S/4HANA, PowerConnect, SAP Services, Digital Transformation

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