“Never change a running system, even if it's slow,” was the joke when I was a SAP Basis Administrator. Today one would perhaps add “even if it's slow and insecure”. Complex software systems are prone to errors if they are not shut down properly. Avantra makes the process of starting and stopping SAP and database management systems (DBMS) safe and transparent through targeted monitoring and reliable automation.
Complex software systems require extensive care and maintenance. Updates have to be installed, performance optimizations carried out, interfaces tested. Many of these tasks require a system restart - an annoying, time-consuming process that can often only be performed outside of office hours. Only then will business operations not be impaired. At the same time, the SAP Basis administrators have to ensure that the systems function smoothly again the next day. This is a risky task, because by default there is often little information available about the relevance, the number of users and the background jobs of the production systems .
The solution to this problem is automation. With the help of the AIOps platform Avantra, complex systems can be automatically stopped and restarted taking into account all operational parameters and with a high level of transparency for the system administrators. Why is that useful?
The automated starting and stopping considerably reduces the workload as well as the working time of the teams entrusted with maintenance work. Another important factor is the “snooze, so you don't lose” paradigm. Companies that rely on Infrastructure-as-a-Service only pay for their third-party services when the system is actually working.
The DBMS in use are highly optimized software systems, which are often directly dependent on third-party systems. To avoid possible repair processes, the individual components must be shut down in an optimal sequence. That requires patience and expert knowledge. Automation simplifies the entire process and can also be carried out by employees with less detailed know-how. This saves time and gives more freedom for innovation.
Example of an individual automation dashboard in the AIOps platform Avantra
Usually different teams work on the system infrastructure and the operating system in companies. There is a procedure for handover for maintenance work, there are operation manuals and mutual phone calls when a certain maintenance task is done. Thanks to the transparent automation and monitoring of the start / stop process, numerous communication requirements and coordination latencies between these teams are eliminated . The susceptibility to errors when starting and stopping complex system landscapes is reduced, and fewer people are required for this task.
Dialog for defining an automation job in the AIOps platform Avantra
SAP HANA can be conveniently stopped and started with the SAP Control Service. If other DBMS are in use and they also work in distributed systems, they must be managed differently. Avantra can transparently bundle and implement this management in different automation jobs.
Automation job in the AIOps platform Avantra
If the system is restarted by the IT operators of the operating system after maintenance work with the help of Avantra, the software checks each individual system or each virtual machine according to specified automation jobs, while the systems are automatically started up in the predefined sequence. Human sources of error when starting and stopping the server are minimized. If software errors are found, Avantra reports them automatically via the dashboard or provides information with a previously defined notification action. The operator team can react immediately.
With the help of the automated, transparent starting and stopping, it makes sense for those responsible to also apply smaller, but relevant and recommended patches in good time after the release. If starting and stopping complex and distributed systems previously required an immense amount of lead time, Avantra significantly reduces this lead time and post-processing time. Access data of highly privileged users, which are absolutely necessary for starting and stopping different systems, can also be stored in the Avantra automation without having to make them accessible according to the “segregation of duties” and the requirements of ISO27000.
The automatic starting and stopping of systems is one of the most important automation functions of Avantra. Companies and service providers benefit equally. It saves time, simplifies processes and increases the quality of the services by preventing manual errors. And it ensures that systems in the cloud do not run unnecessarily and cause costs. Our goal is to provide more out-of-the-box automations in the future. Avantra 20.11, for example, will provide an automatic SAP kernel upgrade. Further functions for automated patching are planned.