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Avantra: The Future of AIOps for SAP

by John Appleby

Published on 02.19.2020

It was over five years ago that I sat in SAP's Palo Alto office discussing with Hasso Plattner the insanity of paying €1000 a day for an SAP Basis consultant to do basic SAP Operations. I quipped that inflation had taken the rate for an expert to nearly €2000 a day. Unfortunately, that was true and remains true to this day.

 

When I first saw the Syslink Xandria product, I realized the potential this had for changing how customers think about automation. Xandria has all the framework needed: the ability to run against any customer architecture. It's straightforward to write a tool that runs on one architecture, e.g., AWS, but every SAP customer has a different architecture.

 

The team investigated and prototyped some of the challenging problems, like SAP upgrades, automated proactive maintenance or even configurable autonomous bots. To our surprise, we found solutions allowing us to automate SAP Operations altogether.

 

In doing so, we realized this was a problem that we wanted to solve, and so we made this our vision: to reduce the cost of operating SAP environments, to return more support budget to innovation, improve reliability, security, and auditability, and proactively resolve issues before they impact the business.

 

I'm delighted to join Avantra as CEO to lead this journey.

 

Syslink Xandria becomes Avantra

In line with our new strategy and vision, we felt it was time to move on from Syslink Xandria. We wanted a name that reflected our company values, a calming name. I was relaxing with family and watching the waves lap up against the shore when we came up with the name Avantra.

 

Avantra is a blend of the words “avant”: in front of, and “tra”: across, beyond. There are underlying themes of “advantage” and “vantage”. That is to say: Avantra operates across the business and keeps ahead of issues.

 

We built Avantra on the foundation of Syslink Xandria and added AIOps capabilities with our automation framework, which is the platform for our future innovations. We released Avantra 20.2 today and if you’d like more details, check out Brenton’s blog.

What is the future?

The future of Avantra is simple: to focus on reducing the complexity of SAP Operations with technology and automation. I can see a future where:

 

  • We can eliminate the need for day to day checks on systems. SAP customers typically have a team of people checking settings, looking for alerts, and generally keeping the system running. Think of it as the engine room of a nuclear submarine. These checks can all be automated, and with the power of algorithms, we can focus resources on solving issues identified proactively by the Avantra platform.
  • We can mine the data stored by these checks, and proactively identify system updates that need to happen. For instance, when SAP issue a critical security vulnerability, we can immediately identify impacted systems and request permission to apply the fix. Then we can automatically apply the fix during the defined maintenance window and test.
  • We can use all the knowledge of environments stored in our configuration database and make suggestions for more significant changes. We can recommend moving systems to a more cost-effective cloud or upgrading them to a new version of SAP.

Final Words

SAP has just released support of the SAP Business Suite until 2030, and S/4HANA until 2040, which is the longest term commitment SAP has ever made to a platform. This means that the SAP Business Suite will have been supported for 25 years without a major upgrade, and so will S/4HANA. This pales by comparison to the last long-term support product SAP released, R/3 4.6C, which was supported for just 13 years.

 

This is a statement to the incredible longevity of ERP systems in the world we live in. At Avantra we are committed to using automation to help SAP systems more reliable, less manual, and more agile, and we believe there is no better time.

 

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