Drive SAP Performance and Uptime via
IBM Cloud and Smarter Infrastructure

Cloud & smarter Infrastructure Weekly. An IBM service management perspective.Imagine you're a manager of SAP applications. Every day, you find yourself confronted by challenging questions that demand answers.

Specifically: How do you maximize the value SAP applications deliver? How do you solve performance problems that emerge, as quickly as possible? How do you keep SAP applications—and all the business services that depend on them—up and running the highest percentage of time?

The first place you'll look for answers, of course, is SAP itself—that is, its own extensive management capabilities. But SAP is a complex, enterprise-class software package; an SAP deployment typically spans many systems, relies on many information repositories, and leverages many critical resources. It operates, in short, in a large, complex IT environment. And any performance shortfall or failure of that environment will, in turn, translate into issues for SAP.

It follows that if you want best performance of SAP applications, you're going to need more than just SAP management per se. You're also going to need comprehensive, effective management of the surrounding IT infrastructure.

And as that infrastructure itself becomes more complex—for instance, by evolving into a private cloud, in which new virtual servers are continually generated and resources are allocated in dynamic and unpredictable ways—your task will only get more challenging.

Detect, resolve, and even predict SAP performance issues

Workload performance can be simulated in advance. Using this technique, teams can consider many possible execution models, arriving at an optimized final result—all without introducing any of the business risk that might normally be caused by experimenting with real production workloads, under real operating conditions.

For the scenario just described—SAP applications executing in a private cloud—one excellent management tool is IBM SmartCloud Application Performance Management.

This offering provides five different forms of insight relating to application performance:

Furthermore, this offering provides these capabilities not just for SAP applications, but any applications running in a private cloud. It's an extremely versatile solution, applicable to a wide range of technical problems—and because those problems can be solved using the information in a “single pane of glass,” instead of multiple interfaces, problem resolution is also accelerated.

Increase application uptime through smart policies

Another IBM Cloud and Smarter Infrastructure offering you can use to improve SAP business value addresses another key consideration: application uptime.

This offering, IBM Tivoli System Automation for Multiplatforms, allows administrators to create policies that can both detect and resolve some of the most typical issues that bring down SAP applications—and in ways that SAP itself can't manage.

For instance, imagine that an SAP application relies on information from a particular database running on a particular system, and that system crashes. This, under normal circumstances, would be enough to bring down the SAP application and create an emergency for an IT team chartered with bringing that application back up.

IBM Tivoli System Automation for Multiplatforms, however, changes the rules of the game, and much for the better. By continually tracking such dependencies as linked database systems, this solution can detect the outage and then, based on a predefined policy, take action.

It might, for instance, migrate the most recent copy of the necessary database to an alternate system set up for failover purposes, and then redirect the SAP application to use that system. Such a task would be completely outside the scope of SAP's management capabilities per se—yet it's necessary to bringing the SAP application back online in the least possible time, to generate the smallest possible business impact.

Optimize SAP workload scheduling and execution

A third offering, IBM SmartCloud Workload Automation, can help you optimize cloud-based workloads—including SAP workloads.

How? First realize that for any given workload there are multiple ways to fulfill it—some of which deliver higher business value than others. For instance, it might be that a particular workload is less time-sensitive than others; this implies it can be run at times of lower business demand (such as nights or weekends), when operational costs are lower.

Via IBM SmartCloud Workload Automation, workloads can be scheduled dynamically in just this fashion, helping keep costs as low as possible, while also still achieving all necessary business goals within acceptable timeframes and at acceptable performance levels.

Also attractive is the fact that workload performance can be simulated in advance. Using this technique, teams can consider many possible execution models, arriving at an optimized final result—all without introducing any of the business risk that might normally be caused by experimenting with real production workloads, under real operating conditions.

Additionally, the solution's per-job pricing model supports the utility billing associated with public clouds. Thus, cloud users will only be charged based on the actual work performed by the solution, not based on a flat fee that's independent of the value those users are getting.

Protect critical SAP data

A fourth solution that SAP managers will certainly want to consider: IBM Tivoli Storage Manager for ERP.

ERP applications (like SAP) tend to be among the most business-critical of the total application portfolio. One implication of that: there's zero room for risk or uncertainty about the data they use to execute properly.

That's why data protection solutions are particularly important in any SAP context. And among them, IBM Tivoli Storage Manager for ERP offers a range of best-in-class features to help shield critical data (including HANA data) from threats both known and unknown.

For instance, it is specifically designed to back up even the largest files, like SAP databases, with remarkable speed. This accelerated backup, in turn, means that less time is needed for data transfer over the network, and there's less impact on the SAP infrastructure as the backup process takes place—both helpful to improving SAP performance.

This solution also supports SAP-certified processes pertaining to data protection that have been developed for complex, heterogeneous environments. So administrators are benefiting not just from IBM's own insights and expertise in enterprise-class data backup, but SAP's—including all the issues that uniquely apply to SAP deployments.

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