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Applying Defense Best Practice for the Diagnostic and Troubleshooting of SAP Solutions

Impact of unplanned downtime

SAP systems run mission critical processes in defense organizations. The need to maintain high inherent availability is well understood and there is an abundance of articles, etc on the subject. A quick search on “High Availability” on SDN/BPX will return over 2500 hits. There are two excellent papers on “Planned” and “Unplanned” downtimes:


  1. HRG Insight: Analysis of Unplanned Outages

  3. How-to Guide NetWeaver 2004s: How to minimize effects of planned downtime

While the effects of unplanned downtime vary from customer to customer, they are never pleasant and will largely depend on the breath and depth of the user population and the background jobs running.

As such, it is important that the team responsible for the diagnostic and troubleshooting of SAP solutions be well equipped with tools and knowledge.

Interactive Electronic Technical Manuals

In my previous life I was an army maintenance officer. In Canada, and in many other countries, maintenance technicians repair a multitude of equipments. It’s often difficult for them to remember all of the diagnostic and troubleshooting procedures that exist for particular equipment, especially if the symtoms rarely occurs. So technicians use published troubleshooting and diagnostic procedures in technical manuals. Today, most technical manuals are published electronically.

The Interactive Electronic Technical Manual (IETM) Guide published by the Defense System Management College Press provides an excellent primer on the subject. The US DoD classifies IETMs in five classes and Figure 3-1 from the guide provides a quick representation of the key differences between these classes.





The guide goes on and states that:

“Class V IETMs allow the subject matter experts (SMEs), in all areas (e.g., troubleshooting, fault isolation, accomplishing repairs, establishing alternate repair paths), to bring their knowledge to the maintenance unit and apply it in a specific situation.  The system and equipment diagnostic programs can “talk” directly to the user through the IETM; relatively unskilled technicians can be led through complex procedures.”

The maintenance technician go through a diagnostic and troubleshooting process that looks like this:





Problem Analysis Guide for SAP NetWeaver 2004s

SAP provides a number of tools to assist in the diagnostic and troubleshooting process. The SDN area on Monitoring and Troubleshooting is most likely familiar to many of you. What may not be as well known is the recent publication of the Problem Analysis Guides for SAP NetWeaver 2004.

The Problem Analysis Guides for SAP NetWeaver 2004s contains a list of problem analysis scenarios which describe all activities and their sequence in order to analyze a problem which might occur with SAP NetWeaver. The description of each activity contains:


  1. A list of the necessary tools or programs as well as the steps in the tools, if necessary

  3. A description of the problem-specific content semantics (e.g. log or trace messages)

This guide can be characterized as a Class III or IV IETM depending on how the content was authored and stored. However, there are neither links to the tools that the document recommends using nor any feedback mechanism back into the guide to determine the next diagnostic step.

The role of the Partner Ecosystem

The partner ecosystem has been very prolific in extending the tool set provided by SAP for the diagnostic and troubleshooting of SAP systems. Most of them leverage two scenarios that SAP can certify.

External Interface for Alert Management (SAP NetWeaver AS – External Interface for Alert Management (BC-XAL))

BC-XAL enables external system management software to read or set the properties and values of monitoring attributes, as well as read or confirm alerts. Through this interface, the Computer Center Management System (CCMS) in SAP Web Application Server supports software vendors who integrate their products with SAP’s existing administration tools.

Currently (at the time of writing) partner products certified against this integration scenario include:








































Business Availability   Center 5.1



Mercury Interactive Corporation



BusinessShadow 4.2



Libelle Informatik   GmbH



Cronacle 6.0



Redwood Software BV



ESPatrol 2.0



International Computer Services


  eXsenju 2




Nomura Research Institute, Ltd.



Gensys 6



SPS Gensys



Horizon 1.5



TIDAL Software, Inc.



HP OpenView   Smart Plug-In A.08.50



Hewlett-Packard GmbH



IBM Tivoli Monitoring for   Applications 5.1.0



IBM Deutschland Entwicklung   GmbH



Indicative 8



Indicative Software, Inc.



JP1/PFM 7.50



Hitachi, Ltd.



Netcool/Application Service   Monitor 3.2



Micromuse Inc



syslink Xandria   XAL 3.2



syslink Software AG



Topaz 4.5



Mercury Interactive Corporation



Unicenter Management 3.3



CA, Inc.


Write Interface-CCMS Monitoring Architecture  (SAP NetWeaver Application Server – Write Interface-CCMS Monitoring Architecture (Version 1.0) (BC-XMW))

As of SAP NetWeaver AS 6.20, Support Package 12, the Computing Center Management System (CCMS) provides an additional instrumentation interface. This interface is called XMW (eXternal Monitoring Write). Partners can use the XMW interface to transfer data to the CCMS monitoring architecture using XML documents. This data is then displayed in the alert monitor of the monitoring architecture in the same way as any other data.

With this interface, partners can use all of the instrumentation functions that are available to them through the ABAP interface using function modules from the SALI function group. The interface offers the following possibilities:


  1. Creating any monitoring trees with their monitoring tree elements.
  2. Setting properties and methods of individual MTEs. The properties allow partners to make settings for an alert that can be assigned to a monitoring attribute, as well as providing more information about the alert through an assigned message.
  3. Reporting values, messages, or status for the created monitoring attributes. It is possible to trigger alerts in the monitoring architecture, depending on the properties of the monitoring attributes.

Currently (at the time of writing) partner products certified against this integration scenario include:
















Cronacle 6.0



Redwood   Software BV



Dollar   Universe V5






Patrol   Integration 1.0



BMC   Software, Inc.



Applying a Class V IETM concept for the Diagnostic and Maintenance of SAP Solutions would include:


  1. Reduced false alarms      
  2. Increased percentage of successful fault isolation

  4. Reduced fault isolation times

  6. Reduced maintenance time

  8. Reductions in false removal rates (i.e. correcting something that did not need correcting)

  10. Greater effectiveness of inexperienced technician

  12. Reduced training requirement for technicians

  14. Reduced unplanned downtime

In short, contribute to reducing the TCO of the solution.

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