There once was consumer products company that made things people used to color within the lines (mostly). They were a happy SAP customer until one day their users started to complain about performance.
“The SAP system is too slow!” they complained. “We can’t get our jobs done! And Back to School season is starting soon!”
So the customer’s Basis team called upon their intrepid Client Partner. Let’s call him… Mark.
“Mark!” They cried. “You have to help us, transaction performance is really bad! We’ve talked with our hosting partner but they’re not sure what to fix! Help us, Mark!”
Springing into action (Actually, it was just an email.), Mark contacted yours truly, a mild mannered Practice Principal in the DTS Platform Group. Let’s call me… Rob.
“Rob!” Mark exclaimed. “I’ve got a customer with serious transaction performance issues on their ECC system! I don’t know who to call to fix the problem! I can’t tell if it’s a Basis problem or an Application problem! Can you help this customer? Back to School is starting soon! If we can’t get this problem solved for them, people may not be able to keep coloring within the lines (mostly)!”
Immediately springing into action myself (Actually, it was just a response to Mark’s email), I responded.
“Of course, Mark. We’re SAP, we’re always willing to come to aid of our customers! Back to School Season must not be affected!”
The intrepid Client Partner arranged a conference call with the unhappy customer. I introduced myself.
“Hi there. I’m Rob, your Friendly, Neighborhood Basis Consultant; what seems to be the problem?”
The customer wasn’t sure what the problem was. They only knew their end users were complaining about system performance and their hosting partner wasn’t sure where to look to troubleshoot the problems.
“Can you help us, Rob?” they cried. “We don’t know what to do; we’ve had lots of meetings but we don’t have enough experience in system performance tuning to know what to tell our hosting partner to fix!”
“No worries,” I replied calmly. “The wonderful thing about SAP ABAP applications, they record all the statistical performance information and they love to tell Friendly, Neighborhood Basis Consultants all about it. You just have to know how to listen.”
“Oh that sounds wonderful!” They exclaimed. “What will you ask our system to tell you?”
“Well,” I replied. “I’ll take look at CPU utilization since that’s where everything originates. If that looks okay then I’ll check your database I/O response times since that’s where all the data goes in and out. If that looks okay, then I’ll take a look at the application level to see if ECC is having systemic issues or just specific transactions. And I’ll also take a look at the application buffers in ST02; cause it’s the right thing to do.”
“Do you think that will work?” they asked.
“No worries, your ECC system will tell me what’s causing the performance issues; I just need to listen to it for a bit.”
So I did. (Actually, I reviewed a bunch of statistical records and charted response times.)
I discovered the underlying problems were being caused by the disk I/O subsystem that was consistently being overloaded.
When I reported back to the customer, they were overjoyed.
“We’re saved!” They cried. “We’ll have our hosting vendor reallocate the LUNs for the database files across a faster disk subsystem. And we’ll have them move some less critical applications to another disk subsystem. But how will we know if it works? We have to be ready for the Back to School season!”
I had the answer for them.
“No worries,” I replied. “Once your hosting vendor makes the changes, I’ll go back and ask the system if it’s happy now.”
The customer sprang into action. (Actually, they arranged a weekend outage so the hosting vendor could implement the new SAN.)
And then I asked ECC if it was happy again. (Actually, I looked at the same logs again and made some comparison graphs.)
When I reported back to the customer that their SAP system was now happily performing at optimal levels, they were overjoyed!
“Back to School seaon is saved!” They cried. “People will be able to keep coloring inside the lines (mostly)! Thank you so much, SAP!”
And that’s how an intrepid Customer Partner and your Friendly, Neighborhood Basis Consultant saved the Back to School season for one of SAP’s customers.