The future of IT Ops is AIOps. For SAP operations professionals this means the days are numbered for the venerable Solution Manager admin tool. It is famously complex to implement, use, and upgrade. And, the relative sophistication of modern solutions like AIOps, make it seem dumb by comparison. But, don’t be seduced by sexy alternatives built on trendy and cutting-edge like AI and machine learning. Look for AIOps to address real pains and challenges that SAP operations and BASIS admins face every day.
Managing Alert Fatigue
AIOps platforms like FogLogic’s “AIOps In-a-Box™ for SAP” address three key administrator challenges, the first of which is alert fatigue. Solution Manager, like other legacy monitoring tools, relies on static alert thresholds, which results in a flood of meaningless alerts. To bring these down to a manageable level, Solution Manager then enables simple grouping of metrics and alerts. In other words, Solution Manager’s approach creates the alert flooding problem to begin with, then tries to apply a band aid to control it. In contrast, modern AIOps software profiles system behavior patterns and establishes dynamically changing thresholds to identify real statistical anomalies in system performance and behavior. AIOps also consolidates data across your entire system landscape and solution stack layers, not just the SAP application layer. Further, AIOps learns from actual system behavior and triggers anomaly notifications based on scoring that considers factors like magnitude, frequency, and clustering. Finally, AIOps retains data online for three months or longer – unlike Solution Manager, which stores only the most recent incident data for a few hours. With the more holistic and robust approach to anomaly detection that AIOps provides, you won’t get flooded with meaningless alerts and you can manage real potential trouble on an exception basis.
Making Sense of Data
Making sense of the monitoring data in order to isolate the root cause of system performance problems is another major challenge that every Basis admin faces. AIOps accelerates Root Cause Analysis by leveraging machine learning algorithms that analyze metric correlation, incident co-occurrence, and seasonality effects, and AI techniques such as text analysis and natural language processing to analyze logs – even when the system is experiencing no problems. This ongoing, automated real-time analysis is readily available to Basis admins – saving huge amounts of time in getting to root cause when an incident does occur and empowering them to proactively deal with problems even before incidents happen. And, AIOps software provides automated recommendations linking probable root causes to the SAP knowledge base of suggested best practices and remediation actions. This focuses Basis admins on a narrower “curated” set of remediation options. In contrast, admins are hobbled when they rely on Solution Manager – which only delivers data but leaves all the analysis work to the users, doesn’t provide any context to help them with their analysis, and doesn’t retain data to help them analyze historical trends or patterns. Because Solution Manager doesn’t support efficient and repeatable incident contextualization, you end up dependent on specialist tribal knowledge (and you keep your fingers crossed that those specialist aren’t on vacation or out sick).
Eliminating Trial & Error Remediation
Trial and error remediation is the third ongoing challenge. AIOps enables proactive resolution, which includes rules-driven team mobilization that automates policies for routing remediation actions while integrating with your ITSM as needed. Remediation workflow standardizes communication across teams for tasks like applying, testing, and reporting on fixes – leveraging integrations with collaboration tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams. And, closed-loop learning ensures that information about what worked and what didn’t is fed back into the knowledge base ensuring that automated recommendations improve over time. With Solution Manager on the other hand, you’re still doing the same things you’ve done for the last 20 years – relying on your in-house or outsourced experts to suggest fixes that you then try out to see if they work – and without knowledge retention, you somehow end up “solving” the same problems over and over again.
Of course, you will need Solution Manager to be your default tool for application deployment, versioning, transport, and configuration management. But it’s time to replace Solution Manager’s technical monitoring and arm your BASIS administrator with AIOps. Instead of spending weeks upgrading to Solman 7.2, you can implement AIOps easily and painlessly (no consultants needed!) and be up and running in a few hours.
Taken together, AIOps’ ability to transform anomaly detection, data contextualization, and problem resolution shrinks the time and effort you need to detect, understand and resolve incidents (see illustration above). With AIOps you will minimize downtime or performance related business disruptions, eliminate frustrating routine and mundane manual work, and re-focus your energy and talent on higher value-add, more satisfying functions like planning and innovation – and crush your MTTR SLAs along the way.