Maximize SAP Health across multiple platforms
with IBM Tivoli Automation

Automate SAP problem-solving for a faster, more cost-effective response

Tivoli Beat - A weekly IBM service management perspective.Automation is a great way to simplify complex technical challenges. Anytime smart IT management solutions can take direct action on their own, sparing IT team members the time and energy required for a manual approach, it translates naturally into a win. Often, it’s a major win.

Thanks to the speed and consistency of the automatic response to application requests or error conditions, business risks and costs both fall; meanwhile, service levels and availability both climb. The organization thus accomplishes more, using less—the basic formula of business success in a difficult economy.

For a clear example of how that premise plays out in real-world environments, consider SAP architectures. SAP is a complex solution, typically deployed in a way that spans multiple systems, links multiple information pools, and, of course, creates multiple forms of value. Toward orchestrating that complexity, SAP comes with its own management capabilities (SAP Solution Manager).

But while those capabilities work well inside the SAP-specific environment, they don't apply in the same way to the larger IT environment of which SAP is only a component that includes many applications and sub-systems. This is where Tivoli-driven automation can play a major role in creating a better business outcome: taking quick, policy-driven action to ensure more available, higher-performing SAP applications and SAP-driven services. Tivoli Automation thus makes for a natural collaborative partner with SAP, by working hand-in-hand with SAP Solution Manager to handle tasks as efficiently as possible.

Consider, for instance, IBM Tivoli System Automation for Multiplatforms. This solution enables IT to begin with best practices and standards drawn from both SAP and IBM, implement those great ideas in the form of specific policies, and then leverage those policies to take quick, effective, automated action whenever that's required to keep the SAP architecture and applications up and running.

The result? Higher SAP application resiliency and availability via much higher responsiveness in areas like failure detection, failover, and failure recovery in general. All of that happens despite the fact that the SAP implementation may well span a complex, heterogeneous range of platforms. And it leads, in turn, to higher revenues and a better user experience for all the services SAP supports.

IBM Tivoli System Automation for Multiplatform: Policy-based smarts maximize SAP application availability in many ways

"System Automation Manager both detects emerging problems that affect SAP performance, and then takes action—based on policies that address a given situation—any time that action is needed. And that happens far more quickly, consistently, and at lower cost than could be achieved through any comparable manual process."

To understand how Tivoli System Automation works, think of it first as a centralized repository of critical technical information about the overall environment, including SAP. That means more than just, for instance, which SAP elements are deployed on which hosts. It also means information such as application dependencies, various technical resources that are needed to carry out particular functions, where designated failover systems are logically located, which of them should be utilized in any given case of system failure, and the business priorities associated with different applications or services.

Also incorporated into this information pool are ideas drawn from best practices that are used to help govern overall management for highest business value; “best practices” meaning those drawn from both SAP's extensive background in managing its own portfolio and those drawn from IBM's deep expertise and history of successful customer engagements managing IT architecture in a larger sense. These concepts, combined and augmented with the specifics of a customer's own infrastructure, business goals, and perceived risks, in turn can be used to create dedicated policies to keep SAP applications up and hitting performance targets.

To do that, System Automation both detects emerging problems that affect SAP performance, and then takes action—based on policies that address a given situation—any time that action is needed. And that happens far more quickly, consistently, and at lower cost than could be achieved through any comparable manual process.

For a specific example, imagine that a specific SAP application is dependent on a particular database, and that the physical host responsible for that database fails. Normally, this would be a disaster for the SAP application, leading to its complete (albeit hopefully temporary) failure. That's because SAP Solution Manager, by itself, lacks the necessary capabilities to spot the host's failure and then address that failure smartly, to minimize the business impact.

IT team members would instead normally have to isolate the problem to its root cause, then painstakingly migrate the database to a new host, bring it up, and reconfigure SAP in such a way as to access it in the new logical location and bring the application back online.

Fortunately, given Tivoli System Automation for Multiplatforms, a far swifter and less costly response becomes possible. System Automation can detect the failure of the database's host itself, via monitoring capabilities that continually track SAP-related resources and assets. Then, having spotted the failure, it can then turn to an appropriate policy to determine what to do next—perhaps by migrating the most recent copy of the database to an alternate system known to be both up and running, and sufficiently available to handle the added workload.

Subsequently, the SAP application is restored, services work as expected, and users (or customers, for outward-facing services) once again get the capabilities and performance they'd expect. The time required? While cases will obviously vary from architecture to architecture, a task of this type might normally execute in less than a minute—minimizing downtime that can make a world of difference to the organization.

An availability solution that grows in parallel with your infrastructure, yet remains straightforward to use

Multiplying the argument for System Automation even more is the fact that its policies are unusually comprehensive, and can handle not just a wide variety of such situations and contingencies, but also a wide variety of different platforms that SAP might rely on.

Imagine an organization that has a traditional x86-based distributed architecture, POWER 7-based IBM minicomputers, and a high-end IBM System z mainframe. Imagine it's using all three of these environments to deliver complex SAP applications to users both inside and outside the organization.

Obviously, this range of platforms is so broad—involving fundamentally different microprocessors, operating systems, and other elements—that under normal circumstances, no single availability solution could be expected to support all three. Tivoli System Automation can. In fact, it's the only such solution on the market that can.

Even when SAP is implemented in such a diverse way, Tivoli System Automation can provide end-to-end availability for the entire SAP environment—essentially, providing peace-of-mind for IT managers in an automated way that abstracts out the technology, and focuses instead on the business problem. And that's a value proposition that only gets stronger over time, as the SAP environment becomes complex, because the Tivoli capabilities will grow in parallel with that environment without changing the basic management paradigm.

Despite the increasing new complexity at a technical level, Tivoli System Automation will remain the centralized answer to the overall availability puzzle, detecting and resolving complex issues so IT managers don't have to—and SAP service users and customers get the best possible experience.

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