In this article, I will discuss on frameworks, platforms and tools for a typical SAP on Azure Operations Environment.
Industry Best Practice Framework – Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITILv3)
The IT infrastructure library (ITIL) was originally developed in the 1980s (with updates to the framework in 2001, 2007 and 2011) is commonly the de facto framework for implementing IT Service Management.
Service Operations form one part of the four categories of the ITILv3. ITIL v4 is not expected to be published until early 2019.
[Author’s note: ITIL v4 is now published – 19 July 2019].
I will discuss in this article based on the flow below:
- Event Management,
- Access Management
- Service Request Management,
- Incident Management,
- Problem Management
Azure Management Model
Source: Microsoft here
In Re-hosting SAP environments to Azure, I will describe Azure cloud capabilities (Secure and Monitor) for the above ITSM processes.
In Azure, you can use Azure Monitor. It supports the following ITSM connectors
Azure services like Log Analytics and Azure Monitor provide tools to detect, analyze and troubleshoot issues with your Azure and non-Azure resources. However, the work items related to an issue typically reside in an ITSM product/service. The ITSM connector provides a bi-directional connection between Azure and ITSM tools to help you resolve issues faster
- Microsoft System Center Service Manager
Watch this webinar by MSIT on How Microsoft moved from System Center Operations Manager to Azure monitoring.
ServiceNow and Microsoft System Center Service Manager integration are available. These two tools are widely popular.
The Azure connectors will address Event Management aspects of IT Infrastructure as-a-Service (IaaS) services for SAP environments.
Business Process and Applications Operations: SAP Solution Manager has pre-packaged the integration using CCMS (Computing Center Management System).
However, from an operational point of view, there will be no single End-to-End Monitoring solution. SAP Basis/Application Development teams can monitor Business Process, Application Operations through SAP Solution Manager and have Events generated to ServiceNow.
The same can be applied for Microsoft System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) and integrated to Microsoft System Center Service Manager (SCSM). OzSoft developed management packs for SAP and HANA specifically for SCOM. Part of its offerings includes IT-Conductor which is a PaaS/SaaS subscription model. Check out this link for their comparison between Solution Manager and IT-Conductor.
Security Management is our next topic. Identity/Access Management are processes while Directory Services is platform service.
Azure Active Directory is an Identity Access Management service that is PaaS service. It connects to thousand of cloud apps including:
- SAP Netweaver in Azure
- SAP HANA
- SAP Cloud Platform
- SAP Cloud Platform Identity Authentication
- SAP Cloud for Customer
- SAP Business Object Cloud
- SAP Business ByDesign
Service Request Management, Incident Management & Problem Management
There are currently no Azure PaaS services for these three ITSM processes of Service Request Management, Incident Management and Problem Management.
ITSM Products and Tools
SAP Solution Manager is a full fledged Application Life-Cycle Management solution. It is also certified as ITIL compliant.
SAP Solution Manager was placed first for SAP centric environments in an independent study. CA Technologies and HPE (now Microfocus) was tied at second. Realtech (4), BMC Software (5), ServiceNow (6) and Microsoft (7)
Read whitepaper here for more details. Source: SAP
Many people might debate about this but I will leave it as that. Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for IT Service Management Tools lists ServiceNow and BMC as leaders for general ITSM products.
Here, I will discuss SAP Solution Manager for SAP Centric environments on Azure only.
Solution Manager has capabilities on the application and business stack, Run SAP like a Factory Operations Control Center:
See diagram below:
Source: SAP Wiki
SAP Solution Manager was central to this methodology. Business Process Operations, Applications and IT Infrastructure Operations are the core operational focus.
Solution Manager 7.1 was built mainly for IT Run operations. But with the release of 7.2, capabilities shifted to implementation and being business focus: Source here.
SAP also offers a SAP Solution Manager as a Managed Service by certified partners. Check them here
Enterprises want choice. Not everyone wants to use Solution Manager for all its ITSM process management processes for SAP solutions.
Artificial Intelligence Operations (AIOps) for SAP Service Operations Management on Azure
Gartner in a blog post AIOps Platforms describes the use of Big Data and Advanced analytics for IT operations. See quote and diagram below:
AIOps platforms utilize big data, modern machine learning and other advanced analytics technologies to directly and indirectly enhance IT operations (monitoring, automation and service desk) functions with proactive, personal and dynamic insight. AIOps platforms enable the concurrent use of multiple data sources, data collection methods, analytical (real-time and deep) technologies, and presentation technologies.
This is the future of SAP Service Operations Management on Azure. Cloud has large scale data store, big data and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities. There are also other solution offering by ScienceLogic, BMC AIOps and others.
Below here I will describe specific solutions for SAP for AIOps.
BNW Consulting‘s PowerConnect for SAP addon (certified by SAP). It runs on Splunk and Azure Monitor Log Analytics. Splunk is also available on Azure Marketplace. See general architecture for PowerConnect on Splunk.
With SAP data now stored in Splunk or Log Analytics, you can now build machine learning models, predict failure events for production instances, and issues get fixed before it happens.
Service Request and Incident Management:
Microsoft IT used an AI based integrated model for SAP support. This was via multi-channels, like email, chat and phone).
In the next phases, Azure Bot Service will streamline Microsoft’s incident support systems. This will definitely improve performance and user experience.
The case study Microsoft operations evolve with Azure provides valuable lessons for enterprises and organizations. Microsoft IT had adopted the DevOps model. It also changed the way its IT operating model before migrating to Azure.
It is not about adopting new tools and capabilities in Azure. An enterprise also needs to consider about culture, mission, vision and the strategies.
- Enterprises still widely use ITSM and ITIL as their Service Operations Management Framework as a de-facto standard.
- Event Management: Azure Monitor : SAP on Azure IaaS Technical Infrastructure only. But there are other tools that offer different capabilities in Business, Application and IT Technical Infrastructure operations.
- Access Management: Azure Active Directory is IAM PaaS service available in Azure and can connect to various SAP applications and SAP cloud services. Connectors for popular ITSM platforms like Microsoft System Center Service Manager and ServiceNow are also available.
- Service Request Management, Incident Management & Problem Management:There are many ITSM platforms and tools available for SAP centric environments on Azure. SAP Solution Manager, Microsoft System Center Service Manager and ServiceNow are some examples.
- Enterprises are adopting AIOps as they migrate to the cloud. Take advantage of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence capabilities in Azure. This will result in a well run SAP on Azure environment.
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Disclaimer: This article was written with material drawn from sources published by different vendors. This is not an official Microsoft position or endorsement of the various ITSM tools or platforms . Please perform technical due-diligence prior to designing and implementation for your ITSM project.
I blog this article to share information that is intended as a general resource and personal insights. Opinions are my own and not the views of my employers (past, present or future) or any organization that I may be affiliated with. Your comments to my posts are your views and I am not liable for anything shared by anyone else.
This article was originally published in Linkedin on 5 December 2018.