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      4 min read

      How Nagarro transforms SAP operations with Avantra

      transforming SAP operations with Avantra

      E-3 Magazine, in the June 2023 issue,  featured a cover story about Avantra and the collaboration with our customer Nagarro. Reason enough to let the mind wander a bit and write a little more about this exceptionally good collaboration.

      It all started in 2013, back  when CIBER Managed Services GmbH and our solution was not yet called Avantra, but Xandria. From the initial product presentation in Freiburg im Breisgau, my hometown, it was easy to see how well the attendees understood the solution, and from the questions and answers, it became clear how well we, at Avantra, knew the problems of a fast growing managed services business.

      The problems at that time came down to too many wrong or missing monitoring alarms, creating a concern regarding the creation of service level reports. Mathias Keifel, deeply involved in the technical evaluation at that time, describes it in E-3 Magazine as: "Our staff must be informed about a problem before the customer notices the problem and contacts us." Going into detail, a major  problem was preventing false alarms for  a customer's 50 servers, which were ran in their own data center but  managed remotely by the operations team via VPN. If the VPN ever went down for a short period of time, the task would generate only one "VPN down" instead of 50 "server down" alarms, suppressing the 50 downstream alarms. Avoiding false alarms is very important in order to prevent the problem of "alert fatigue", which leads to employees no longer taking alarms seriously and then not reacting if a problem really does exist. At the time, Avantra had a new feature on board called "Business Services" that was designed to visualize such dependencies.  Mathias Keifel then spurred on us the concept of: "If you can do this, then ...". He wanted us to understand that he would then make a strong internal case for Avantra. The development team then solved the problem with a new function in our "Notification Management". Notification Management is the component of Avantra that is still used extensively today to forward all sorts of events and findings to third-party systems, most notably ITSM and ITOM solutions. A prominent example would be ServiceNow. At that time, we added a very nice feature where,  before triggering a notification, the status of a business service could be queried. So we were able to achieve the exact goal of notifying individual servers. However, if 50 are down at once with 99.9% probability, the VPN and the Avantra Business Service "VPN Status" is critical and ensures that the 50 downstream alerts are not delivered. Ten years later, this is still in use. In the meantime, Avantra's notification management can do much more. For instance, today, we can control events in such a way that they close previously opened tickets in the third-party system with the "Advanced Business Logic", or change the urgency should a status in Avantra go from critical back to OK.

      As we continued to work together, I was always excited to see how the Nagarro team made use of Avantra's enhancement capabilities. Another way was through a function called "Custom Checks", meaning that certain checks become active specifically when the customer uses them. The monitoring of SAP jobs is a prime example. When it comes to out-of-the-box, there are two checks that monitor all SAP jobs, jobs that have been cancelled or delayed in starting. However, it may be that there are very important, business-critical jobs that need to be monitored specifically, like a job running significantly longer than planned. This is exactly the purpose of the type "SAP job" from the Custom Check toolbox. You can use it to create your own new "My Important Job" check and then apply all downstream functions to it, from notification management to service level reporting. Besides this "SAP job" custom check type, there are also some generic ones, including running a JavaScript code, or running an ABAP report. The integration possibilities in the platform are worth highlighting. You can build a custom check like this, with parameters and performance recording, that is no longer different from a standard check. It is precisely these functions that Nagarro made extensive use of. The desire was to monitor the SAP Landscape Transformation Replication Server, which was not available out-of-the-box in Avantra 10 years ago. Mathias Keifel and his team then added the function to Avantra in advance, based on our generic custom checks. As of 2023, Nagarro has over 1000 custom check types in use, mind you that some of these types are rolled out again on tens of thousands of servers or hundreds of SAP systems, especially in the area of security.

      What about  today? Working with customers and responding to their needs has always been a particular motivator for the entire Avantra team, leading to  such a good NPS and incredibly high customer retention. The desire of our customers to have Avantra solve problems or make changes to systems on their own has become stronger and stronger. So the next big milestone for Avantra was automation. We've been focusing on this for a number of years, but of course we continue to innovate in the area of monitoring. Again, we focus particularly on SAP solutions, but topics such as OS patching can also be handled with the Avantra platform. From a product for monitoring with a focus on SAP solutions, we have developed an AIOps solution that masters and links all three important basic elements: Observe (monitoring),  Engage (integration), Act (automation) and that is based on ML and data. 

      Will such a solution as Avantra be someone's finished development, so to speak? Fortunately no, I can say that with certainty from my 22 years. We still have so much to do and so many ideas in our backlog. Customers can be curious. Of course, generative AI is also at the top of the list of topics we are working on. But also further and deeper integrations are on the to do list and the topic of security. Automation equals integration, interesting saying from an experienced SAP project manager from the automotive industry. The world is changing, the ERP world perhaps a little slower, even slower than SAP would like to see. Nevertheless, we know today that future ERP landscapes will be modular and composable. Operations teams certainly have no less to do in keeping track of this, and talent is currently in high demand. Avantra's all-important task, therefore, remains the same and becomes even more important to support these teams as much as possible and give them powerful tools, AI-based or simply with well-designed automation.

      Avantra's powerful approach toward automating core SAP processes alleviates pain for your administrative team while powering more efficient workflows throughout your organization. Give Avantra a try today with a free demo to see what we can do for you.


      Photo by Anja Limbrunner