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Application Performance Problems? When to Blame the Untrained End User

How to use a new generation of APM tools that provide both user and transactional insight

In my previous posts I wrote about how important it is to have end-to-end visibility into SAP in order to avoid serious problems in our delivery chain or to discover that application performance degradation was caused by malfunctioning hardware.

One of our New Zealand customers, Fonterra, who is the world's largest exporter of dairy products, uses SAP to support its delivery chain of dairy products made from 22 billion liters of milk collected each year.

In this article we show how Fonterra uses a new generation of APM tools that provide both user and transactional insight, as well as complete end-to-end coverage to monitor its SAP infrastructure. Monitoring SAP infrastructure led Fonterra to quite surprising discoveries that some performance problems could be caused by insufficient SAP training or that milk churns block Wi-Fi signal in Fonterra warehouses; we will discuss the latter story in my upcoming blog post.

Tracking Milk from Cow to Cheese
Fonterra uses SAP to manage its operations, enterprise resources and controlling. Fonterra sites span across the whole world: including New Zealand, Australia, China, the Middle East, the US, Mexico, and Brazil (see Fig. 1).

Although dairy production is typically local to the markets, the management of such a large enterprise requires centralized resource planning and financial controlling, using company-wide best practices that enable the company to deliver high levels of productivity while staying ahead of the competition. This is where SAP ERP plays a pivotal role and where global access to the central SAP systems is critical to the whole company operations.

Figure 1: Two major interactions with SAP system: scanning milk cans and reporting; both distributed across the world

With such a critical, diverse and global SAP implementation, Fonterra decided to use an APM solution to ensure uninterrupted access and a high quality end-user experience with the SAP ERP worldwide. Fonterra extended the out-of-box reporting with a number of custom-built reports that enabled focused views into specific SAP performance use cases relevant to Fonterra.

How Is Mexico Different from São Paulo?
One of the first problems discovered by the operations team was that certain SAP transactions at the subsidiary in Mexico were much slower than other offices. Both offices in Latin America, i.e., in Mexico and São Paulo, unlike the subsidiaries in Tokyo or Dubai, are not connected directly to the SAP servers in New Zealand. Instead the traffic is routed through the office in the USA. However, only the office in Mexico was experiencing performance problems.

The operations team from Fonterra compared application and network performance between subsidiaries (see Figure 2). As expected, network time, network performance and client RTT metrics show that the quality of the network in LATAM sites is worse compared to other offices, especially the main office (Fonterra Centre). Still, the overall application performance (reported by operation time and server time metrics) does not seem to be affected by the geographical location of the branch office.

Figure 2: LATAM sites, connecting to SAP server in New Zealand through Chicago, are affected by network latency

To read more, and learn additional insights, click here for the full article.

More Stories By Sebastian Kruk

Sebastian Kruk is a Technical Product Strategist, Center of Excellence, at Compuware APM Business Unit.

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