Performance Management Tools Improve Control

Historically, SAP solutions have been the foundation of mission-critical applications, such as corporate financials or production scheduling in manufacturing. Companies often rush to finish the implementation phase — including customizations and modifications — and pay less attention to performance issues, scalability, and system load. However, it is more expensive to fix these issues after a system has gone live and performance problems have developed. When SAP NetWeaver is run across multiple tiers, it can be difficult to pinpoint the source of a performance problem. Managing these environments poses significant challenges.

Three components work hand in hand

As a result of these demanding application needs, Veritas has created a family of application performance management products, Veritas i3. This family of products provides businesses with software and services that optimize the performance of critical applications. The products focus directly on the response time experienced by end users. The application performance management solution continuously collects high-quality metrics from each supporting tier of the application infrastructure (SAP R/3 server, SAP Web Application Server, J2EE servlets, browser, database, and storage) and correlates the metrics to form a clear picture of application performance from the perspective of end users – response time. This approach ensures that the first indication of degraded response time can be quickly isolated to the definitive root cause – anywhere in the architecture. These products provide organizations with the ability to manage SAP application performance completely and end to end. Veritas i3 products consist of three components: Insight, Indepth, and Inform.
Veritas Insight measures the true end-user response time of a multitier application and, as part of an end-to-end view, breaks down the response time by technology tier, such as Web server, application server, database server, or storage, so that the IT staff knows where to focus its efforts. The Insight component also provides application-specific performance metrics for SAP and other applications. The application-specific metrics provide a deeper understanding of how the application is performing and offer the visibility required to resolve the most complex performance issues. The information is stored in a database, the so-called performance warehouse so that the Inform component can generate historical trends and real-time alerts.

Working hand in hand
Working hand in hand

Veritas Indepth collects detailed performance metrics from the underlying technologies that contribute to response time: J2EE and other application servers, Web servers, and storage to provide deep visibility into complex performance issues. The information is used to identify the root cause of performance degradation within that technology tier and to generate expert tuning advice to resolve issues. The information is stored in a performance database so that the Inform component can generate historical trends and real-time alerts.
Veritas Inform delivers key performance information collected by the Insight and Indepth components as historical reports and exception alerts. It can report performance metrics, such as response time, to show gradual degradation and identify a point in time when action must be taken to ensure that response time stays at an acceptable level. Real-time alerts notify IT staff when a key performance metric has exceeded a threshold and needs attention. This ensures that the problem does not go unattended and is resolved as quickly as possible. The three components are also separately available. A special integration module produced by Veritas supports SAP R/3 and SAP Netweaver.

Faster-running applications, less troubleshooting

Recently, global automobile manufacturer Volkswagen hired Gedas Mexico system vendor to create an always-on, utility-class supply chain management (SCM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementation for its growing assembly plant in Puebla, Mexico. Gedas developed a highly customized SAP R/3 implementation to handle business-critical, around-the clock production, logistics, billing, and warehouse management. But before deploying Veritas i3 to continuously monitor Volkswagen’s SAP R/3 applications, Gedas could produce only a list of the top 40 most expensive and resource-intensive transactions. “The top 40 list didn’t tell us why or when problems were occurring. We used to send the information to the maintenance teams and there was not a lot they could do with it,” says Alejandro Cavazos, system programming manager for Gedas Mexico. “Now, we not only can view a graphical history of what has gone on and when, but also see the correlation between the transaction, the user, and the SQL statement – which shows us the root of the problem so that we can fix it quickly.”
Gedas realized significant quantifiable returns from its deployment of Veritas i3 for SAP: SAP R/3 applications run up to three times faster during peak periods. Applications run 92 percent faster. Now, two people take only a day on one program – down from five people spending a week on one program – so that the staff can spend more time on proactive application administration and strategic projects. Troubleshooting calls after normal working hours have dropped from two or three per night to one or two per month. And Gedas met the terms of its stringent service-level agreements (SLAs) without investing in expensive new hardware. As these results show, enterprise applications like SAP R/3 can benefit from end-to-end correlation of performance issues.

Capture application metrics

With hundreds or even thousands of users in a single implementation, SAP administrators face the burden of defining a set of systematic processes to understand: application behavior, usage patterns, service levels, and application alerts. From a cost perspective, these attributes have a major impact on the total cost of ownership (TCO) of an SAP solution.
Measuring the actual service levels actually delivered to end users is critical to cost-effective deployment. IT departments need these measurements to make the appropriate tuning, design, or architectural changes, as well as to integrate SAP applications with legacy or third-party applications. Specifically, an SAP administrator or IT staff team must quickly and efficiently capture and correlate SAP application metrics across the whole SAP NetWeaver platform. These key measurable influencing factors include Web pages and URLs activated by users, network time to remote geographical locations, SAP transactions, application modules, screens, and database SQL statements. J2EE servlets running on SAP Web Application Server might have been invoked and caused a performance problem. It might be challenging for an administrator to collect this data, but it is the only way to ensure that bottlenecks are located and to determine performance tuning next steps.
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Ray Suarez
Ray Suarez