With around 130 employees, Innflow, one of the leading SAP consulting companies in Switzerland, implemented the Avantra AIOps platform for its private cloud infrastructure, three and a half years ago. Initially, the aim was to monitor its customers’ SAP systems more precisely. After deploying Avantra, the SAP Basis team at Innflow quickly gained better control over the status of all customer systems and recorded significant quality improvements, as Felix Hausheer, Team Lead SAP Basis, confirms:
"As a managed service provider, we work with many customer systems, so it's very important that we can automate a lot of things. There are, of course, customer specifics, but that's where we have the flexibility to be able to automatically check automations we've added ourselves - like the HANA mini checks now on all systems, for example."
Felix Hausheer, Team Lead SAP Basis, Innflow
Based on the Avantra automation templates, Innflow developed their own custom automations to reduce unloved tasks whenever possible. Not only to save time, cost and improve security, but also to free their Basis experts from manual activities.
Innflow supports around 800 SAP instances and several hundred environment systems. Now the Avantra automated SAP HotNews analysis saves a lot of headaches for the MSP. The platform automatically recognizes which HotNews are relevant for which customer systems and which customers are actually affected. In an environment without Avantra, this work alone causes several days of support. Innflow also uses Avantra to patch system kernels automatically.
"The biggest effort for us is making appointments with the customer - Avantra takes care of everything else," explains a satisfied Felix Hausheer.
This means that the platform relieves the SAP operations team of unattractive routine activities, such as copying the current kernel version to each system, running the patches there, setting maintenance flags, and so on. Unpopular, monotonous tasks are handed over to Avantra which reduces human error. For the Innflow Basis team members, the work becomes more interesting as they are able to focus on work which directly drives new business growth.
Easy integration of new systems thanks to artificial intelligence.
An important aspect of managing SAP systems is the efficiency with which new systems are implemented. When speaking with Felix Hausheer he explained that at Innflow, only a few preliminary steps are required to generate new systems ready for operation. "That's the most time-consuming thing. Once this preliminary work is done, the rest of the work is handled automatically by Avantra.”
This is where AIOps comes into its own: Avantra recognizes what kind of system it is - for example, an SAP ProcessOrchestration system or an SAP Solution Manager installation. The platform knows which details need to be monitored and autonomously rolls out the necessary controls. Further manual intervention by the team is not necessary.
In addition, parameter sets are configured depending on the system environment. As an example, Felix Hausheer mentioned systems with Windows application servers that access an SAP HANA real time platform. In this case, Felix and his team specified threshold values relevant to this scenario. Once these limits have been defined, Avantra automatically creates them for all new systems of the same type.
Convincing market performance
Last but not least, AIOps has helped Innflow grow their business. Innflow demonstrated right from the first initiation meeting how customer systems benefit from highly automated, active system management. In addition, thanks to this flexibility, service level reporting is offered that is adapted to the respective needs and output automatically. And since Avantra takes over a large part of the routine work, Innflow has a lean but powerful SAP base team.
As Felix Hausheer recalls, "In the past, we sometimes even had to hire additional SAP consultants for a new major customer with many SAP systems. Today, that's no longer the case, because a new customer doesn't necessarily mean the need for additional staff." In view of the current dry market for specialists, this is an important plus point that gives Innflow significantly more scope for further growth.
Future wish: Automation, automation, automation!
Asked what he would like to see from the Avantra platform in the future, Felix Hausheer says intelligent automation in as many places as possible, whether it's advanced automated kernel patching or the automatic creation of system copies.
“After all, although automated deployment, monitoring and reporting has already contributed a lot to the quality of system support, transferring manual work to AI is the only way for an MSP like Innflow to grow organically without the dependency on new personnel. “