Defining AIOps: How It Can Benefit Your SAP Operations and BASIS Administration Processes

Wayne Caccamo
Wayne Caccamo in Best Practices August 09, 2019

In the age of digital transformation, we find more IT departments leaning toward using artificial intelligence for IT operations (AIOps) to help manage the increasing demands on IT teams.

This blog post—which is the first in a series—starts by expanding on the benefits of AIOps and addressing three key pain points that IT operations and BASIS administration teams experience every day. In all three of these scenarios, adopting AIOps can lead to a dramatic reduction in incident mean time to resolution (MTTR).

What Is AIOps?

AIOps is a category of cloud-based software systems that apply artificial intelligence (AI) to transform IT operations. An AIOps platform redefines the processes and tasks associated with managing the IT incident life cycle. It also helps significantly reduce business disruptions by increasing system availability, minimizing manual and error-prone work related to performance monitoring and incident root cause analysis. It also prepares teams to resolve problems in a proactive and automated way. In SAP operations environments, AIOps can complement SAP Solution Manager by replacing and modernizing technical monitoring and alerting, providing an end-to-end solution for SAP performance and availability optimization.

Pain Point 1: Managing Alert Fatigue

The first key pain point that an AIOps solution addresses is alert fatigue resulting from the volume and variety of alerts generated by SAP Solution Manager and a heterogeneous set of legacy tools to monitor a growing landscape of systems and solution stack layers. Ninety percent of alerts are ignored, despite the risk they will negatively affect team productivity and MTTR. To prevent teams from prematurely acting on the wrong alerts and dismissing consequential warnings, SAP Solution Manager provides simple groupings of metrics and alerts to control “alert flooding.” Yet it relies on static thresholds and limited (recent) data sets to generate alerts and determine anomalies.

AIOps uses machine learning to generate behavior profiles and dynamic thresholds to detect real anomalies. Modern behavior profiling discovers, collects, consolidates, and performs statistical and text analysis on a comprehensive array of performance behavior data types across the full stack and complete system landscape. Dynamic alert thresholds, in contrast to static thresholds, self-adjust based on known or expected drivers of system behavior. Rather than being determined by SAP recommended default values and manually adjusted over time, alerts are based on continuous monitoring of and learning from actual performance behavior and can be triggered based on scoring that considers factors like magnitude, frequency, and clustering.

In sum, AIOps can complement and extend what is possible with SAP Solution Manager in the area of technical monitoring and alerting with a more holistic and robust approach to detecting anomalies. Your team won’t get flooded with meaningless alerts and you can manage real potential trouble on an exception basis.

Pain Point 2: Making Sense of SAP System Data

The second key pain point is making sense of the data that SAP system logs and legacy heterogeneous monitoring tools collect to isolate the root cause of system performance problems. For most IT teams, the pain starts early in this process, as it is frequently not clear where to begin and who to involve in an incident investigation. The process typically involves navigating and marshaling specialist resources including administrators, solution architects, developers, solution stack component experts, infrastructure services specialists, business process/functional experts, and support process stakeholders. In fact, it’s not uncommon for your root cause analysis “tiger teams” or “war rooms” to involve fifteen individuals.

AIOps can complement SAP Solution Manager with an efficient and repeatable process for incident contextualization. AIOps accelerates root cause analysis by providing incident contextualization based on log analytics and machine learning algorithms that analyze metric correlation, incident co-occurrence, and seasonality effects. As a result, you are no longer beholden to specialist tribal knowledge. An SAP domain-aware AIOps solution will link probable root causes to the SAP knowledge base of suggested best practices and remediation actions. This focuses the remediation process on a narrower set of remediation options, potentially leading to faster resolution.

Pain Point 3: Trial-and-Error Remediation

The third key pain point is the frustration associated with trial-and-error remediation. Using the “curated” set of remediation options available with AIOps solutions, IT teams can leave their frustrations behind as they adopt an automated and proactive workflow. This workflow can include rules-driven team mobilization that automates policies for routing remediation actions while integrating with your IT Service Management (ITSM) activities as needed. Remediation workflow standardizes communication across teams for tasks like applying, testing, and reporting on fixes—distributing these communications in real time through integrations with collaboration tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams. And closed-loop learning feeds information about what worked and what didn’t back into your knowledge base, helping improve your automated recommendations over time.

Why Use AIOps?

The ability of AIOps to transform anomaly detection, data contextualization, and problem resolution shrinks the time and effort required to detect, understand, and resolve incidents. With AIOps, you will not only crush your MTTR metrics, but eliminate frustrating routines and mundane manual processes. You’ll be able to refocus your energy and talent on higher-value functions like planning and innovation, helping increase your team's job satisfaction.

In the next post, we’ll cover the compelling business drivers for an AIOps platform.

If you’re attending SAP TechEd, register for the ASUG Pre-Conference Seminar, “Hands-on with SAP Solution Manager: Adopting the Best End-to-End Strategy to Transition to SAP S/4HANA,” Sept. 23 in Las Vegas. You can also join us for the ASUG and SAP Solution Manager Summit Nov. 5–7 in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania.