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On the surface, SAP monitoring seems like a pretty routine part of running a business. Once or twice each day, your SAP Basis admin takes a snapshot of your landscape, analyses it for any warning signs and provides tuning as needed. If everything goes according to plan, it fades into the background — just one of many daily tasks that your company depends on.

But there’s more to SAP maintenance than there appears. Your SAP landscape powers your entire company. It’s vast, complicated, multi-layered and opaque. Basic monitoring can spot a lot of common issues, but there are problems that can lurk undetected below the surface until they grow bad enough to slow your company to a crawl.

Proactive vs Reactive SAP Monitoring

SAP HANA has unleashed a period of rapid SAP modernisation, which can make it hard to get perspective on routine SAP monitoring. You’re planning big changes for your landscape — you can figure out how to optimise maintenance later, right?

But the reality is, you’ll always be changing something. Once you get to Business Suite on HANA, you’ll need to start thinking about S/4HANA. And even after you’ve reached S/4HANA, your system will still be changing. There will still be regular updates and upgrades, as well as future transformations to harness new technology.

Sooner or later, you’ll have to make a choice: are you going to continue scrambling to keep up with SAP maintenance, or are you going to set routines that let your Basis staff get ahead of your SAP needs?

In essence, that’s the choice between proactive and reactive SAP monitoring. With proactive monitoring, your technicians look at how your SAP landscape is changing so they can plan maintenance ahead of time, keeping your system reliable and agile. With reactive monitoring, they only spot problems once SAP starts to break. Even with a good team, a reactive approach increases the risk of performance degradation and unplanned outages, and slows your adoption of new technology.

However, it’s not enough just to choose proactive monitoring — you need the right team with the right tools to achieve your goal. Many organisations try, but few ever get there.

Why Companies Fail at Proactive Monitoring

Once enterprises understand the complexity of SAP, they try to do the right thing. Most companies either assign an internal IT asset, or hire a new Basis expert to perform daily system health checks. However, they often don’t consider what tools their techs will need to be effective. Administrators end up stuck with whatever underpowered SAP monitoring software the client already has.

This makes the process resource intensive, inefficient and demoralising, which can lead to burnout and high turnover. Just as importantly, it limits what the admin or administrative team can see. Typically, the software only monitors the underlying servers — not the SAP database or application layer. That means the Basis tech ends up missing a lot of important information on SAP system health.

Even  if the Basis asset tries to take a proactive approach, it’s extremely difficult for them to infer long-term trends, or propose strategic upgrades to address those trends. Inevitably, they end us stuck with reactive SAP monitoring and remediation.

SAP Remediation Poses Additional Challenges

The consequences of reactive monitoring depend in large part on reaction time. If your SAP Basis resource is at their desk as soon as the system starts misbehaving, they may be able to solve the problem with little to no impact on end users. However, if they don’t get into work until five hours after SAP throws an alert, the impact can be much more serious.

But of course, unless you’re a huge corporation with a massive SAP landscape, you don’t have the budget to pay a team of Basis resources to sit there, monitoring SAP around the clock. That means if SAP breaks during off hours, there’s a much higher chance of major end user impact.

Organisational structure can also pose a significant obstacle to remediation in certain situations. If an SAP issue is caused in full or in part by improper user behaviour, it may be difficult for your SAP Basis asset to get a message to that user (or their manager), and even harder to get that user to listen. That means they can’t address the issue.

For example, let’s say a user is searching a dataset of 10 million records to find a particular piece of information. The proper way to do this would be to put information in the search fields to narrow down the results. So, if the use wants to find a particular customer order, they might input the customer’s name, the product code and a date range.

However, this particular user doesn’t really understand the process, so they decide to put asterisks in all the fields and scroll through the records manually. As a result, SAP tries to output all 10 million records, chugs away for 10 minutes, runs out of memory and kills the process.

If that user doesn’t understand why SAP killed the process, they may think the software is just being buggy and try the same process again and again, sucking up resources and degrading performance. If your Basis tech has no credibility to talk to anyone outside the IT department, they may have no good way to get the user to stop, short of suspending their access or calling in the functional team to show the rogue user the error of their ways. That means they can’t address the problem quickly.

Solution Manager Improves Routine SAP Monitoring

SAP does have some tools that can improve the situation assuming they’re correctly configured. SAP Solution Manager Technical Operations provides ongoing monitoring of key SAP systems, which cuts down on the tedium and decreases your admin’s workload. SolMan also improves visibility into SAP, which can make your Basis team more effective.

However, Solution Manager has certain drawbacks. The SAP monitoring tools in Solution Manager are so challenging to setup and use that many SAP tenants never get them properly configured. Additionally, it’s difficult to spot long term trends and diagnose complex problems. The admin only sees a subset of SAP systems, and has to navigate into submenus to dig out important information, which can prevent them from gaining a strong understanding of the health of your landscape as a whole. To move to a truly proactive SAP monitoring approach, you need a more powerful tool.

Modernise SAP Maintenance with Sciencelogic

ScienceLogic is a next-generation SAP monitoring tool, designed to make your Basis admin as effective as possible. Your techs can view key data across your entire SAP system through a single pane of glass, dramatically improving both visibility and usability. ScienceLogic also provides historical information, so you can compare current application, database and OS behaviour with normal behaviour to spot worrying trends.

These features help your team to make connections between different systems. It’s easier to diagnose and fix complex SAP issues that may involve multiple parts of your landscape. With the right team, that can radically change the way your organisation runs SAP.

Take a Proactive Approach to SAP Monitoring and Health

With ScienceLogic, backed up by Symmetry, you can finally make the dream of proactive SAP monitoring and remediation a reality. We’ll take you beyond fighting to keep your system healthy for the next twenty-four hours, and work with you to plan ahead for the next month, next quarter and next year. That proactive service is backed up by our 24/7/365 Support Desk — scrutinising the alerts, confirming validity and passing incidents to the appropriate remediation team.

That means better productivity and reliability, more predictable costs and far less disruption. And with unparalleled customer service, we can work with your whole company to resolve SAP problems before they impact your users.

Steve Lofthouse, Solutions Architect

Steve Lofthouse, Solutions Architect

Steve Lofthouse is a Solutions Architect on Symmetry’s EMEA team bringing 14 years of SAP cloud and managed service experience. He’s dealt with solutions coming from multiple perspectives in his experience including but not limited to: pre-sales, technical consultant, support and end user. With this experience, Steve is able to deliver all required components needed for almost any situation with a sound understanding, resulting in effective managed cloud environments for various enterprise solutions.