Building & sustaining a monitoring team in a multi-application landscape
Building & sustaining a monitoring team in a multi-application landscape

Introduction

By Jonas Van Giel

As an IT software implementor at Quinaptis , we are often faced with multi-application environments. The most common we face is in the design of a decentral SAP EWM to SAP ERP. However, many more applications can be linked (in)directly to these environments.
In such a multi-application environment, it can become complex and time-consuming to keep track of those different interfaces, all with their own toolset and issue resolution.
A monitoring team might provide the perfect solution to this “problem”. Such a team is solely focused on monitoring the different interfaces and assessing/resolving the risks and priorities that might arise.
The consequence is that you get a good overview of your IT system and how healthy it is. This is also important to prevent a system downtime or business flows being blocked which can cause unnecessary expenses or even worse, a lower customer SLA. In other words, you will go from a purely reactive approach to a rather proactive one.
In the next sections, we will highlight some key aspects in forming and sustaining the perfect monitoring team

The monitoring team

Key responsibilities of a monitoring team

1. Create an overview of all the different applications and their environments (dev/qas/prd)
2. Extend the overview with a clear mapping of all applications and how they impact one another end-to-end
3. Prioritize interfaces based on input from both business and IT
E.g. An issue in a production interface is more critical than one in a sandbox environment
4. Build a clear schedule when a certain interface flows data so it can be monitored closely
E.g. does the interface receive only a weekly update or rather hourly or even continuous communication
5. Build an ‘issue resolution’ list with key stakeholders to maintain proper & timely communication
6. Decide on which tools and metrics will be used
7. Make sure documentation is received/build on the different interfaces
8. Manage expectations in the sense that all involved stakeholders know what to expect and what not to expect from the team

Roles within the team

Project leader:
This person will define the monitoring team’s role in the different interfaces. The business usually contacts the project leader when they have an interface that needs to be monitored.

Team leader: Has direct contact with the project leader and usually has more contact with the business. The team leader also provides the other team members with status updates.

Data stewards: This role can be maintained in the team or can be maintained by the business. Most of the time there is a data steward team available and if not this can be included in the monitoring team.

Technical profile: When performing the monitoring tasks you often tumble against some technical issues. In order to avoid unnecessary delays, it is recommended to have a technical profile aboard the team.

Depending on the field you are active in some other profiles might be interesting to have (like SD, MM, PP, FICO,…)

The monitoring types

There are different monitoring types, the most common are the following

Application performance monitoring

Monitors how well the systems perform under peak load.

IT Infrastructure performance
A further expansion on the APM, keeps for example an eye on the CPU load of the system.

Business Activity Monitoring
Provides an overview on the processes and transactions which are used in the business.

The monitoring tools

Depending on the interface, different monitoring tools can be available

Standard SAP tools (non-exhaustive list)
*Queue monitoring via SMQ* transactions
*IDOCs monitoring via WE* transactions
*File monitoring via SXI_MONITOR
*CPI as an intermediate layer between your own and 3rd party application
*Solution Manager for job monitoring, system monitoring, etc..
*SM51 to check application servers and load distribution
*SM50 for load processes
*…

Next to pure monitoring tools, it might be interesting to have a closely linked tool that allows issue logging and documentation.

In the next few screenshots we see the tool used at one of our projects

Conclusion

We can conclude that a monitoring team can have many advantages, not only to solve issues but also to be a step ahead of them and prevent them from happening in the first place.

Monitoring tools are a great way to help the monitoring team achieve its goals. The tools mentioned before are just a few appointed by Gartner, but there are of course a lot more that can be used.

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info@quinaptis.com