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Reduce TCO and control portal cost with systems management

This article discusses ways that organizations can minimize initial implementation and ongoing operational costs in order to get the most bang for their IT buck.

In order for IT organizations to prove their value to the business they must focus on projects that reduce operating...

costs, increase efficiencies and maximize the value of IT investments and will therefore be seen as business enablers rather than pure "IT expenditures". Organizations must minimize both initial implementation and ongoing operational costs in order to realize the full benefit from implementing the mySAP Enterprise Portal.

Everyone knows that IT solutions incur costs. However, it's harder to grasp the breakdown of those costs; typically IT-related costs are divided into direct costs (such as hardware, software and IT staff) and indirect costs (such as loss of business productivity or diminished customer satisfaction). While the breakdown of costs between direct and indirect is typically fifty-fifty according to studies by industry analysts, the savings that can be achieved by implementing best practices are much more substantial – often reducing indirect costs by a ratio of three to one.

Most SAP administrators will tell you that experience has shown that it usually takes much longer to locate the cause of a problem than it does to fix it. The sheer number of components in a portal environment exponentially affects the time it takes to determine the root cause of any problems. Managing the availability and performance of a mySAP Enterprise Portal environment will create both direct and indirect costs. As such, it is important that your teams collaborate closely on problem triage and quickly assign problems to the right team for resolution.

The key to containing systems support costs is to reduce problem resolution time. Here are three ways to leverage management software to reduce resolution time:

• Automate health checks to make sure that the SAP system (or any other IT system) is working properly with no existing or expected degradation. SAP and IT administrators are required to periodically check the condition of the system and its individual components (much like the annual medical check-up people go through). With automation, these IT health checks can be conducted daily or even more frequently, which reduces the IT administrators' workload while increasing the frequency of the system checks.

• Centralize monitoring of the health of both critical SAP and non-SAP components in the mySAP Enterprise Portal, as well as the connections between them. This will provide SAP experts with visibility into the entire portal environment and its components within SAP's Solution Manager. Likewise, the J2EE support team can see the same information on the entire portal platform. This cross-component visibility and proactive, automated problem detection within any of the many components in the mySAP Enterprise Portal environment significantly reduces the time to identify, assign and resolve problems, thereby making your portal support staff more efficient.

• Automate recovery and maintenance actions, such as restarting a process or server when the system reaches a particular state. For example, the lack of connectivity between several Portal Servers and the LDAP server is a good indication that the LDAP server must be restarted, although the LDAP server itself might seem to be available. When such a condition is automatically detected, it can trigger a corrective or preventive action without requiring the manual intervention of the administrator. Through this type of intelligent automation, direct staffing costs can be controlled as existing staff can handle the increased management task load of the new portal environment.

Beyond Systems Management

Fully understanding and managing the intricacies of mySAP Enterprise Portal environment brings organizations one step closer to linking IT resources more tightly to business objectives. This approach, known as Business Service Management (BSM), enables companies to move beyond traditional IT management and enable management of their business-critical services from both an IT and a business perspective. For example, BSM in a portal environment might be the definition and monitoring of customer-facing interactions based on business-defined service level agreements. If the system is unavailable, the customer experience will suffers and have severe economic repercussions to the organization. Therefore, not only should a portal management solution monitor system health and automate administrative tasks, but it should also prioritize the management of portal functions to focus on what will have the most adverse affect on the customer. This BSM-oriented approach brings clarity to complexity and allows critical problems to be taken care of first. By solving these most crucial problems first, the portal support team can take on a more proactive, rather than reactive, role to more effectively use their IT operational resources to support and drive business value.

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