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SAP Operations Control Center Advanced Topics and Continuous Improvements

As of recent SAP Solution Manager/Focused Solutions functionality and additional SAP Cloud Platform features, there is additional improvement potential and content artifacts for running an Operations Control Center (OCC), i.e. the management of hybrid system and solution landscapes. As previously outlined, the Operations Control Center addresses usecases and services such as Monitoring, Alerting, Reporting, Dashboards. The concept is tried and tested. The following topics are recommended to evolve and improve your OCC – to make it even more effective and efficient.

 

Attended (supported) and unattended (automated) event and alert reaction procedures

Automated or supported event reaction procedures are part of the IT Detect-to-Correct process, also known as IT Event Management. Through this process, IT Operators react to alerts or events, i.e. warnings and errors, by following documented procedures and practices in order to resume operations to predefined thresholds. Normal operational behavior is defined by threshold values for metrics measuring managed runtime objects like systems, tenants, databases, servers, etc. but also automation/background processing, API/interface processing, business process executions, data consistency evaluations, etc. Threshold breaches trigger events/alerts to be processed.

Challenges for the Operations Control Center include:

  • How to reduce time to process alert reaction procedures e.g. manually executed in and via SAP Solution Manager Guided Procedures or equivalent,
  • How to increase immediacy and precision of alert reaction procedure processing,
  • How to streamline maintenance of documentation for alert reaction procedures.

Circumstances that these challenges pose a risk arise as follows:

  • Operators must name assign themselves to an alert in a managing system, identify the corresponding procedure, and execute an instance of the procedure, which is both time consuming and involves several execution steps in managed objects/systems where the Operator has to quickly navigate to,
  • Immediate and reliable execution of a procedure instance requires the procedures to be already defined, meticulously maintained, and flawlessly executed, especially the steps in managed objects, whenever events are triggered.

Therefore, to support the OCC Operators (the Event Management process), modern Operations Control Centers are applying Intelligent Robotics Process Automation software, i.e. Robotics Process Automation (RPA) for automation of procedures and Conversational Artificial Intelligence (CAI) for interaction with objects.

Using screens and interfaces of managed systems and objects, procedure scripts can be created using the SAP IRPA design time. During runtime, their execution in unattended mode by bots is triggered by SAP Solution Manager or SAP Focused Run alerts. Operators can also manually execute these procedure scripts in an attended mode as part of a classic Guided Procedure or as command in a modern collaboration application, e.g. a chatbot, copilot or equivalent.

Benefits of these improvements are:

  • Fast, reliable, immediate IT Event Management, i.e. automated alert reaction execution,
  • Compliant IT service level agreements.

 

Smart monitoring and intelligent event and alert creation

SAP Solution Manager, SAP Focused Run and similar managing software systems with a Monitoring and Alerting Infrastructure (MAI) can be extended for advanced event correlation, threshold suggestion, anomaly detection, and alert suppression, incl. backward integration of this improved alerting with SAP Solution Manager or SAP Focused Run alert inbox. Machine learning capabilities of SAP Cloud Platform (or SAP HANA) can be utilized to offer correlation and prediction for standard metric and alert processing in the managing systems.

The Operations Control Center utilizes SAP HANA services and/or SAP Cloud Platform services to augment SAP Solution Manager or SAP Focused Run monitoring and alerting data. More relevant metrics, alerts, and thresholds improve the reliability of the monitoring and alerting, i.e. reduce false positives and corresponding incidents and problems. Consequently, the Operations Control Center has more time to react on fewer, but more relevant alerts, i.e. the automatic detection of issues in its event management procedures. Moreover, smart monitoring and intelligent alerting is a great input for the aforementioned intelligent robotic process automation supported event and alert reaction, providing optimized input to IRPA’s automated output.

Challenges for the Operations Control Center include:

  • How to detect an abnormal situation in a managed/monitored object, which thresholds-based monitoring can not or can hardly recognize,
  • How to increase trust in predefined thresholds-based monitoring,
  • How to minimize the efforts of metric, event, and alerts adjustment and tuning, i.e. monitoring configuration maintenance as well as the effort of alert processing due to unreliable event suppression logic and static threshold configuration.

Circumstances that these challenges pose a risk arise as follows:

  • Identification of hidden patterns, seasonal trends, correlation and anomalies in metric and alert data,
  • Thresholds proposals for intelligent proactive alerting, e.g. and i.e. by predicting a resource consumption based on historical trend and realtime data.

To support the OCC Operators (the Event Management process), modern Operations Control Centers are utilizing SAP Cloud Platform services to extend SAP Solution Manager or SAP Focused Run monitoring and alerting scenarios. SAP HANA services add machine learning capabilities to classic managed systems without disrupting, capitalizing on existing configuration as the managing system is connected to a monitoring and alerting software extension deployed on SAP Cloud Platform (or SAP HANA application server on premise).

This synergistic combination provides managing of system metric and alert data used to train models especially for Insight detection and anomaly detection, metric correlation and prediction, as well as alert threshold adjustment suggestions.

Benefits of these improvements are:

  • Reliable Alerts countering the frequently cited alert tyranny,
  • Minimum TCO using SAP Cloud Platform (or SAP HANA) with
    • Minimum backend coding,
    • Simple standard integration,
    • Secure connectivity standard.

 

Advanced provisioning and visualization of data for, monitoring, analytics, and dashboards

SAP Solution Manager, SAP Focused Run and similar managing software systems offer standard functionality and user experience for the use cases monitoring, alerting, analytics, and dashboards. For SAP Solution Manager, SAP Focused Insights for SAP Solution Manager offers further capabilities on top of SAP Solution Manager Report and Dashboard Builder.

Further visualization of offered by (1) SAP Analytics Cloud, (2) SAP XM by Qualtrics, as well as (3) SAP Simplified Business Process Monitoring for SAP Solution Manager.

  1. Analytics capabilities and dashboard visualizations are unified and enhanced including predictive analytics. The Operations Control Center can provide automated reports and dashboards in SAP Analytics Cloud based on data collected via classic managing systems for its continuous improvement process,
  2. Experience management capabilities and dashboards are offered by SAP Qualtrics, i.e. by assessing endusers’ satisfaction with the services provided by the Operations Control Center via surveys,
  3. Business process monitors are available for LOB, functional support, and technical support users. Visualization of the business process execution (throughput perspective) with focus on high-volume business processes including acceptable performance.

Challenges for the Operations Control Center include:

  • Ad 1) How to unify different metrics, key figures, performance indicators, score values across managed systems, monitoring areas, and managing systems into analytical applications and dashboard stories – to create a Digital Boardroom for IT/OCC experience,
  • Ad 2) How to assess satisfaction and experience of endusers with the services provided by the Operations Control Center – to create, run, and consume micro-surveys and -feedback for IT/OCC,
  • Ad 3) How to increase reach, discipline, and adoption of business process monitoring by providing a modern, performant user experience for relevant personas utilizing exiting configuration of business process monitoring in the OCC.

Circumstances that these challenges pose a risk arise as follows:

  • Unification, prediction, and correlation of onboarded metric collections for analytical use cases (Continuous Improvement) making use of managing systems and their data collection (SAP Solution Manager, SAP Focused Solutions, non-SAP managing systems, …),
  • Efficiency, effectiveness, and feasibility of experience and sentiment analysis from user communities with focus on IT processes (Event Management, Continuous Improvement),
  • Standardization, simplification, and modernization of user experience for core business process throughput identification, backlog evaluation, and exception detection – with focus on key performance indicators number of business documents processed and number of business documents backlogged.

SAP Analytics Cloud in context of Operations Control Center

SAP Analytics Cloud can be used to correlate all Run Operations as well as ALM Operations data in order to enable the Operations Control Center to deliver high quality analytical solutions faster and more efficiently. Predictive analytics capabilities of SAP Analytics Cloud complement the functional scope of SAP standard applications, i.e. by channeling into SAP Analytics Cloud collected data from SAP Solution Manager and Focused Insights. Unified and intelligent analytics allow predictions and recommendations to reduce incidents, to speed up deployments, to optimize resource utilization, and to improve application quality.

SAP%20Focused%20Insights%20and%20SAP%20Analytics%20Cloud

Data visualization options in SAP Solution Manager (left), SAP Focused Insights (right, top), and SAP Analytics Cloud (right, bottom)

 

SAP Experience Management in context of Operations Control Center

Qualtrics Experience Management can be used in combination with SAP Solution Manager 7.2 SP05 or higher with enabled IT processes, e.g. Event Management, Incident Management, Problem Management, or Change Management. To proof this concept, a Qualtrics CoreXM trial account is sufficient. After some small custom development and configuration in SAP Solution Manager and configuration in Qualtrics CoreXM, the OCC is empowered to create micro-surveys for selected services offered to the end user community.

Qualtrics%20XM%20for%20IT/OCC

Qualtrics XM for IT/OCC

 

Simplified Business Process Monitoring in context Operations Control Center

Simplified Business Process Monitoring offers standardized yet tailored user interfaces for different user roles and responsibilities. The requirements are SAP Solution Manager 7.2 SP10 or higher and a configured SAP Solution Manager Business Process Monitoring for at least one business process.

Business User in Shared Service Center is the one working on alerts and incidents for a specific business area. This user group wants to know which alerts have occurred and which alerts are already being worked on.

Manager of a team in Shared Service Center wants to see the same information as the Business User. In addition, she wants to see what the current throughput for the entire business process is. Specifically, managers need to be able to see information for all sites in one screen.

IT Application Support/Operations Control Center wants to see the same information as Manager. In addition, the OCC must be able to display technical information relevant for the business process execution.

Digitized%20Operations%20Business%20Process%20Monitoring%20with%20Simplified%20Business%20Process%20Monitoring%20UI%20in%20SAP%20Solution%20Manager%207.2.%20SP10%20or%20higher

Digitized Operations Business Process Monitoring with Simplified Business Process Monitoring User Interface in SAP Solution Manager 7.2. SP10 or higher

 

Benefits of these improvements are:

  • Reduced cost of operations for analytical and dashboard user experience while improving Insights to Action,
  • Improved user satisfaction and regular user interaction with the Operations Control Center, i.e. agile and responsive IT Service Management,
  • Increased reach and proactivity of Business Process Management by quicker adoption and lower training and process costs of Detection to Correction.

 

Further information

SAP Solution Manager

SAP Focused Run

SAP Focused Insights

SAP Intelligent Robotic Process Automation

SAP Cloud Platform

SAP Analytics Cloud

2 Comments
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  • Thanks for sharing Robin.

    iRPA approach is great idea.

    With SAC introduction, do we already have the meta-data for above mentioned use cases? Also, do we continue with Focused Insight or do you see us moving towards SAC?

  • Hello Raju, thank you very much for your comment indeed.

    Yes, the Operations Control Center can make use of SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC) right away. With SAP Analytics Cloud, the OCC Technical Administrator and Configurator (responsible OCC role) can:

    • ‘connect’ SAP Focused Insights with SAP Analytics Cloud and use SAC dashboard stories and analytics applications as a consumer for Focused Insights model instances and collected metrics (i.e. utilize the same data/meta-data), and/or
    • create own stories and analytical applications based on and using data from SAP Solution Manager, SAP Focused Run, Cloud ALM for Operations, or any other data source connected to/available for SAP Analytics Cloud.

    This is neither invalidating nor diminishing the advisability, applicability and suitability of products and functionalities like SAP Solution Manager Dashboard Builder, SAP Focused Insights for SAP Solution Manager, SAP Focused Insights for SAP Focused Run (or more precisely, the built-in dashboard infrastructure in SAP Focused Run), and others. I.e. these products and functionalities are still valid and beneficial. And they will be – as long as offered and maintained by SAP.

    So yes, the Operations Control Center continues to utilize SAP Focused Insights, SAP Dashboard Builder etc. The blog article wants to specifically highlight advanced features and topics for Operations Control Centers which have additional requirements like for example unification of data visualization, prediction of operational metrics.