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Using a Performance Management Database to Identify Network Problems
Correlating long-term network performance data with transaction response times revealed the actual network problem

Two weeks ago I wrote about how the world's largest exporter of dairy products uses SAP to support their huge delivery chain of dairy products. We recounted how Fonterra used an Application Performance Monitoring (APM) tool to discover that additional training for employees was necessary to speed up certain critical SAP transactions: some employees weren't optimizing attributes passed to the reports based on custom T-Codes.

Unfortunately, additional SAP training cannot solve all the problems. Separately and unrelated to the training issues, Fonterra started to notice that end-to-end SAP transactions were much slower than usual; especially during the summer months. Correlating long-term network performance data, such as loss rate or RTT measures, with end-to-end SAP transaction response times revealed the actual network problem caused by something nobody thought about.

Managing a Dairy Warehouse with SAP
One of the reasons Fonterra invested in SAP was to keep track of milk delivered to their subsidiaries across the world. Each time a milk can enters or leaves the warehouse it is scanned using a dedicated handheld device (VMU). These devices use wireless networks (WLAN) to connect to the dedicated Telnet servers, which in turn translate the scanning process into communication with the actual SAP servers (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Mobile devices (VMUs) use WLAN to communicate with the Telnet Servers

This process is critical to the whole end-to-end efficiency of the dairy production, as it provides critical information on milk sources, amounts received, processed and shipped, and also provides mandatory data required to comply with food health regulations. No doubt the performance of this IT service is critical to the whole enterprise efficiency.

How Network Issues Affected SAP Performance
A few months ago, employees using those VMUs were complaining that it was taking longer and longer to get the scanned data delivered through to SAP.

Figure 2: There are no significant application performance problems with T-Codes consisting on the SAP transaction (Bin to Bin Movement), which users complained on

The Operations team analyzed the performance of the SAP application. They could not confirm any significant performance problems with the "Bin to Bin Movement" transaction, neither in general (see Figure 2) nor for any major users (see Figure 3).

Figure 3: Looking from the SAP server performance there are not significant performance problems that affect users

The Application Health Status report (see Figure 4) confirmed that it was not an application problem as none of tiers were affected. However, the report indicated that the problem might relate to potential network issues.

Figure 4: Poor network performance with high loss rate affects the overall user experience during the scanning process

The Operations team consulted the network metric charts report (see Figure 5), which confirmed network problems, especially with high client loss rate and increased RTT.

Figure 5: The process of sending data using VMUs suffers from increased RTT and high loss rate

Since the traffic was rather low, network congestion was not to be blamed. High loss rate and RTT measures indicated that in fact it was some network problem that affected the user experience of the scanning process.

For more insight, read the full article here

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

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