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What is Focused Insights?

In short, Focused Insights allows you to build dashboards on top of SAP Solution Manager in a way that is more better and more efficient than what is possible using standard functionality of SAP Solution Manager without Focused Insights.

It is available without additional costs for SAP customers with a valid maintenance agreement as of 2020. Focused Insights is part of an ABAP stack add-on ST-OST which can be installed on top of SAP Solution Manager. For details on usage rights, you can check out SAP’s usage rights page.

SAP Solution Manager health check dashboard

I wanted to build a dashboard that shows the health of a specific SAP Solution Manager system at customer side. The goal from my perspective is to get the necessary insights to spot quickly if the system is running as optimal as possible.

As a first step, I want to keep an eye on a number of critical processes in this particular SAP Solution Manager system as well as getting a quick overview on exceptions that take place in the system which might impact those end-to-end processes.

As a disclaimer: the dashboard shown in this blog post is a work in progress which is still a prototype really but one that already provides a number of quick insights into the health of the system.

Daily check KPI’s and critical process KPI’s

A lot of customer have so called daily checks in place. Items that are checked in some shape or form on a daily basis to get a sense of the systems overall health. The number of short dumps, cancelled jobs, update errors, enqueue lock issues, …

Focused Insights can use the many data sources that SAP Solution Manager has as its source for feeding a dashboard. It speaks for itself that if you want to leverage those values in your dashboard certain prerequisites such as the configuration of System Monitoring is mandatory in order to acquire the data first and then use it in the dashboard. The bulk of the data gathered by SAP Solution Manager is stored in the embedded BW (or as separate BW system) of SAP Solution Manager.

Dashboard construction so far

From this point on in this blog post, up till the final thoughts I’ll be going into some more technical details on how this dashboard has been constructed. If you are not interested in the more technical side of things here you can skip chapters till the final thoughts in the end.

Using System Monitoring values

One of the easier things to do is enabling System Monitoring for a specific SAP system and consuming the metrics in graphical ways (bar, pie, column chart) on such a dashboard.

There is a system monitoring data provider source that can be used directly for a query inside of Focused Insights which can mainly be used for showing graphs and trends. This is what you can see on the above chart, the combination of System Monitoring metric CPU user utilization in one query and CPU system utilization in a second query, combined together in a stack column chart in one gadget. The prerequisite in this case is the fact that System Monitoring has been configured for this system.

What I want to have in my upper left gadget however is a single value for a specific daily check such as # Shortdumps (Today) instead of a range of values.

System monitoring metric values are stored in Infocubes in the embedded BW and thus you can write queries against them. For this purpose, I’m using the BEx Query Designer which by now feels a bit old school but it gets the job done.

So what I did for the exception metrics that are based on System Monitoring is create a Bex Query against Infoprovider 0CCMPDATA. A lot of metrics from System Monitoring are automatically stored in BW and aggregated. Infoprovider 0CCMPDATA contains that aggregated data.

The Bex Query that I have created for one of those metrics can be re-used easily now for other metrics where I want to have a similar end-result.

To visualize it inside of the Focused Insights dashboard editor, I set up a so called SLR Renderer gadget. You can see in the left pane that I configured a specific layout with multiple gadgets across the screen to make up my dashboard in the end.

The SLR renderer gives me the ability to use Service Level Reporting thresholds and give the values colors accordingly (green, yellow and red) along with an overall rating.

Keeping an eye on the incident interface to ServiceNow using a CRM UI saved search

The first check on the above screenshot “# Incidents failed to send via interface to ServiceNow – tickets” is coming a numeric value of the results (how many tickets are returned by the search) from a saved search inside of CRM UI where I look for incidents that have a specific status. That status indicates that the automated ticketing interface is having issues with sending incidents to the middleware.

This is a scenario where end-users can generate incidents on ERP (or S/4 HANA for that matter) using help – create support message or contact support in Fiori Apps and those messages are routed to SAP Solution Manager. On SAP Solution Manager there is a completely automated process (including reprocessing in case of failures) to send the incidents to a middleware and from there, to ServiceNow which is used as a central service desk at customer side.

This means that any value above zero would need to be verified because it translates directly into incident tickets that couldn’t be send to the service desk.

Mailing errors via a CCMS metric

Since multiple processes (EWA, Technical Monitoring alerts, …) depend also on mailing, keeping an eye on the fact that the mailing functions inside of SAP Solution Manager can also be important.

For this purpose, we can keep an eye on mails that go into an erroneous state or mails that queue up (on my todo list still) beyond the e-mail transmission job configured in transaction SCOT.

For this, there are also blog posts and sources available that discuss how to get monitoring data on SCOT / SOST in System Monitoring via a CCMS MTE class and once it is available and stored in the embedded BW, we can again leverage it in our dashboard. Note that I had to put the Data Usage to a longer period of time in the Data Usage tab in System Monitoring in order for the metric name to become available in 0CCMPDATA which contains aggregated data.

Using User Experience Monitoring scripts as a datasource

To keep an eye on the fact that Wily Introscope is running and the Diagnostics Agent is running as well on my SAP Solution Manager system I used in this example, a UXmon script (formerly known as EEM – End-user Experience Monitoring). The UXmon script is ran by the Diagnostics Agent so if the script is running, my agent is running, otherwise the script will be failing. In my script I perform a HTTP call to Wily Introscope to check if it’s responding back properly to verify that Wily Introscope is indeed also up and running.

UXmon is a separate scenario and thus the prerequisite to consume it in the dashboard. It is however, a scenario that be set up quickly as I've demonstrated it to multiple customers already in the past within a single day. It can be used to run automated scripts against systems, URL's and web services to check the availability and performance of those sources.

In the end, I display the result (color rating only based) of my UXmon script runs on the dashboard.

Productive EWA generation

Another key process in this particular SAP Solution Manager is the generation of Earlywatch Alert sessions as well as mailing them out to the respective Service Delivery Managers who check them and request specific activities based on recommendations of the report.

So from my perspective, as part of the team responsible for the process part in SAP Solution Manager and the delivery (configuration of mailing) of the reports, I like to know if the report generation was done properly or not each week.

Note that I blanked out the SAP system identifiers that were otherwise visible on the above overview, each line is used for a specific productive SAP system so it would read for example EWA S4P and the next line EWA M4P so each line represent another productive SAP system.

The configuration is fairly simple, choose the Early Watch Alert Data Provider, filter the SAP system identifier and on the properties tab, set the color rating to ONLY. The end-result is a color display showing generated EWA reports and their color rating. Green, yellow or red when they are generated. Gray when no EWA report has been generated for the time frame.

Grey means action is required from my side because it would state the EWA report has not been generated.

Background job monitoring information

Background jobs are definitely important inside of SAP Solution Manager so I want to keep an eye on them and know what is going on in terms of jobs running (long) and jobs failing to take appropriate action to improve the status quo.

Not sure what the best approach was I just googled “Focused Insights Job”. No I wasn’t looking for a job at SAP but rather information on getting Job info into my Focused Insights dashboard. Luckily the query came back with a direct first hit on a blog post for Top 10 job durations from a BEX view.

Needless to say that you can figure out a lot of possibilities of Focused Insights by Googling around and reading blog posts, wiki pages and a likes.

The blog post refers to another guide in terms of setting of the scenario “Job Management Health Check” which loads job data into Infocubes which is ideal of course because you can then use all of that information to create whatever query you want against it for the dashboard.

Final thoughts

The initial implementation of Focused Insights on this SAP Solution Manager system was done together with SAP MaxAttention and consisted mainly out of an operations dashboard (other type than the one in this blog post). However, still they ran me through the features/functions of the other dashboards as well during the implementation and that was definitely valuable for me in terms of getting an understanding what is possible on how to configure the dashboards.

There is a good amount of information out there in SAP notes, SCN, and on SAP Support Portal. It’s not (sometimes it is though) as easy as picking the right metric, the right visualization and voila you have it on your dashboard so it can require effort but all good things tend to require effort in a more general sense. Added value can definitely be found in this scenario.

In the end, I would still love to see more examples of coloring outside of the lines, on how to build up your own custom metrics, what to pay attention to, how to consume and visualize them in a compelling way so that end-users can get closer to what they would really like to see. Alongside this, what would also be good is getting into more details on the BI side of town, what is or isn’t possible. I noticed when manipulating Bex Queries for the dashboard that you can get error codes instead of data back without really knowing why.

Manipulating the look & feel of the dashboard to a greater extent would also be valuable I believe. Compared to SAP Analytics Cloud for example, Focused Insights feels a bit limited, rigid and “fixed” in terms of layout, font, mark-up and dimensions of each gadget.

There are prerequisites and to put those prerequisites in place, in general, you have to know what you are doing inside of SAP Solution Manager or you’re going to have a hard time pulling it together. One of the challenges afterwards is to ensure everything keeps on running smoothly. Especially when you configure this against managed SAP systems where a lot of change is going on, it can be a challenge and you have to think about monitoring all required processes, jobs, extractors in the end to ensure your scenario stays up and running.

I’ve had access to Focused Insights for a bit of time now and in summary, I really do like the concept that SAP came up with. It has long been a request of mine.

I applaud SAP for providing this functionality to the masses as of the beginning of 2020 and I would love to see what others come up with in terms of dashboard creations.
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