It’s easy to look at your SAP system as an ERP utility; after all, that’s what it’s supposed to be. Your network should be zipping along, performing core business operations — processing transactions, compiling data and running reports — in the same way your lights glow and your tap runs. It should work consistently and reliably.
Unfortunately, it rarely works that way. SAP systems are complex environments which are often run without adequate support; little glitches anywhere in the system can make SAP slow to a crawl, hurting productivity and burning money. It’s a frustrating problem, but it’s also an opportunity, because everyone faces the same challenges. Companies who can get better performance out of their IT infrastructure will gain a competitive edge. Specifically designed and SAP certified SAP cloud hosting solutions with Symmetry can help.
Measuring the Health of your SAP ERP System Isn’t Enough.
SAP health is usually determined by the absence of errors. SMBs with on premise hosting generally have overtaxed IT staff without the time and expert knowledge to dive deep into properly optimize your SAP environment. While commodity based cloud hosting providers tend to provide minimal services as their main interest is to boost profits and cut costs, rather than focus on the acute needs of an SAP system.
Either way, your admins are probably only doing basic daily maintenance on your SAP system. They probably check error logs, fix any obvious problems, and update software or listen to user complaints if they get the chance. Still, if no one is calling on the phone and panicking and no processes are failing, everything is fine, right?
An SAP system can appear up and available, but still have extreme performance degradation. Sometimes, a particular SAP process will slow down without affecting the rest of the system; transaction processing can develop long latency times, decreasing customer satisfaction or even causing frustrated customers to give up and order from a competitor.
Business productivity processes can slow down too, decreasing productivity as workers are forced to wait for their session to respond. Collaboration becomes more difficult and less efficient, as employees are unable to see changes made by coworkers. This can lead to miscommunication and extra revisions which, in turn, place even more burden on your ERP system.
These slowdowns also harm employee motivation. Like consumers, employees are used to quick, responsive system performance. Long wait times and frequent errors can make workers frustrated, and make them feel like they’re wasting their efforts.
Performance degradations can break SAP. Over time, minor issues will stack up beyond SAP’s ability to cope. Transactions go from taking too long, to processes not running at all. Resource-intensive analytics come to a crawl, backing up the queue as workers are forced to either wait or rerun them.
Eventually, minor performance issues will lead to a domino effect. If one SAP process doesn’t have the power to cope with demand, it will tend to decrease the amount of resources available to others. Eventually, this will lead to costly service outages, forcing your IT staff to kill everything; it takes hours to restore a crashed SAP HANA® cloud, and days to figure out exactly what went wrong. The “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach seems reasonable, but sooner or later, it will get you into trouble.
The Causes of SAP Slowdowns
Poor Capacity Planning: Incorrectly sizing and configuring your hardware is probably the easiest way to degrade SAP performance. Onsite SAP application hosting is expensive, and businesses often try to save money by skimping on hardware. SAP cloud hosting in the commodity cloud also runs into trouble, since many vendors under-provision and under-allocate. This can lead to low resources during times of high demand when SAP needs the best performance from its cloud infrastructure.
Even when organizations dedicate sufficient resources to SAP hosting, they can run into problems because they lack the expertise to correctly model system demands. They might not anticipate the resource costs of quarterly reports, or holiday sales demands (As Gartner points out, processing sales orders creates four times the load of other financial ERP apps — something a SMB may fail to anticipate). They might enable new functions to collect and analyze data on the fly, without understanding how that affects their network. Everything might seem to be working fine, when in reality their enterprise cloud is one busy day away from a crash.
Symmetry’s IT consulting service takes a scientific approach to sizing hardware, to make sure companies never run out of compute. Our SAP-certified cloud and IT infrastructure team will analyze your SAP cloud hosting needs, use case by use case, and use KPIs to configure a system that will always meet peak demand. We will include a 10% buffer for each client in order to accommodate demand surges, and intentionally over-allocate resources across our data centers.
We’ll also plan SAP upgrades and migrations, so that your IT infrastructure will continue to scale with your company’s growth
Resource Allocation: A well-designed SAP implementation will function as a seamless whole, but behind the scenes, things can be more complicated. Your enterprise cloud is made up of many different systems, each with its own dedicated memory, processing, data storage and networking allocations. It has separate production, development, and quality environments, along with support systems like cloud disaster recovery. You may have separate systems to control and protect PCI or HIPAA data, or onsite systems wired to your hybrid cloud. You may have to account for legacy systems, or divisions running various ERP, CRM or supply-chain software on a SQL, Oracle or any other type of database.
The point is, every part of your SAP hosting environment has to have the correct resource allocation. Otherwise, something is going to slow down and bottleneck the rest of the system, causing poor performance at the very least. And because it’s an infrastructure problem, managed services providers in the commodity cloud usually won’t be able to spot it, since every individual piece of the system seems to work.
And the internal IT staff you’ve deputized as part-time Basis admins? However good they are at what you hired them for, unless they have a strong background in SAP Basis support, they’ll probably miss it too. And speaking of administrators…
Poor Administration: SAP doesn’t just have a lot of pieces, it also has a lot of layers. Business processes run on top of the database, which depends on the operating system, which runs on the hardware. We’re simplifying a bit, but those are the basic pieces. All those systems interact in complex ways, which can lead to stubborn performance problems without adequate administration.
Often, organizations parcel out SAP responsibilities in a way that makes it harder to spot issues that involve multiple systems. They’ll have an SAP cloud hosting provider who specially handles hardware and networking, a separate managed services provider providing administration, another one doing disaster recovery and an additional party running applications and development. Everyone is in charge of their part and only their part.
The problem is, the causes of poor performance frequently involve multiple systems. What happens when you have SAP performance issues that’s not caused by SAP? Will your application tech be able to access your whole team at once, or will they need to make half a dozen calls? Will they be able to get someone on the line right away, or will they face escalation-based tech support and have to spend an hour trying to get ahold of someone who knows what they’re doing? And when they do, will that person know their cloud, or be starting from scratch?
You need a specialized and certified SAP cloud hosting partner who understands that the architecture of your team is as important as the architecture of your SAP environment. Symmetry works closely with our partners, functioning as an extension of your internal IT. Our team can handle everything — design, migration, day-to-day , cloud disaster recovery, and security and compliance. Day or night, we’ll have people who know your specific system and hardware standing by, ready to help you track down the problem.
SAP Cloud Hosting Problems: Your SAP application is only as good as the server it runs on. Even if it’s well-designed and resources are allocated in theory, problems with your host’s IT infrastructure can interact with your system in complicated ways, sometimes causing major outages.
This is a big problem for commodity cloud vendors, which run huge networks of data centers which are already quite taxed. In this environment, disruption from one hardware or software problem can propagate through the system, eventually disrupting your business critical hosted SAP applications. In 2012, for example, a developer accidentally deleted load balancing data, which prevented a large commodity based cloud from correctly allocating traffic through its cloud. Latencies grew as the vendor struggled to fix the problem overnight. By the time everything was working correctly again, almost a full day had passed.
These types of outages can happen several times a year, costing companies thousands of dollars in lost productivity, and eroding user confidence. Having 99% uptime isn’t enough for most businesses anymore; any unplanned disruptions to core business applications are unacceptable.
Symmetry’s SAP cloud hosting service is built for these mission critical SAP applications for businesses who can’t afford to sit back while their cloud provider figures out what’s wrong. We monitor our systems constantly for degradations in application health, security breaches and hardware faults. That means when something starts to break, we can fix it before our customers are affected.
How Symmetry SAP Cloud Hosting Keeps your System Healthy
Monitoring Network Performance: Rather than just monitoring internal software functions, Symmetry uses key performance metrics like End User Response Time (EURT) to make sure users experience quick, consistent performance. EURT measures the total time between a user entering a command and the system responding, which allows us to quickly spot and correct performance degradations, no matter where they occur in your enterprise cloud.
Monitoring Networks: Symmetry’s 24/7command center continuously watches network bandwidth between Symmetry managed systems and customers. We keep an eye on multiple carriers and the networks that transfer data between them; that means we can quickly isolate the cause of performance degradation.
For example, if a hybrid cloud incorporating onsite servers and Symmetry’s data center started to slow down, we could tell if the problem was with the onsite server, the network that transferred data between it and Symmetry’s data center or Symmetry’s internal network and servers. And that quick analysis allows us to fix minor slowdowns before they become major problems.
Ongoing Analysis: No one likes putting out fires — even us. That’s why Symmetry analyses your system to prevent future performance degradation and issues, continuously while tuning your ERP environment. We produce daily health reports using a wide array of data, and use them to study performance trends in your system. If certain types of workloads are overburdening your system, or response always gets slow at the end of the quarter, we’ll be able to spot it, research the root causes and fix them.
We also use our research to configure automated alerts to watch for trends and key indicators, allowing our technicians to take action before performance becomes an issue. We also provide our partners with a dashboard that compiles performance indicators, allowing you to monitor your own system health. This allows multiple levels of monitoring, serving the needs of everyone from developers & technicians to c-level executives. Whether your IT staff is testing a new application or your CIO is considering an SAP HANA® upgrade, we can provide the right intelligence to make a strategic decision.
A Healthy Cloud for a Healthy Business
Poor enterprise cloud performance hurts your bottom line. Business intelligence takes longer to get to the people who need it, quick administrative tasks become long, painful slogs, and workers start to burn out and take shortcuts. And all too often, no one in IT even notices until minor issues stack up leading to a costly outage.
On the other hand, Symmetry’s goal is to prevent issues before they become a problem. Our SAP cloud hosting is integrated with industry-leading IT managed services, security and compliance, and IT infrastructure consulting, allowing us to take care of your system as a whole. We’ll go beyond daily maintenance tasks to monitor your SAP installation, and predict future performance issues before they can hurt user productivity.