ERP Suites is a managed service provider (MSP) that delivers cost-effective technical expertise and resources surrounding ERP solutions, such as various versions of JD Edwards on a range of platforms including IBM i-based systems. This allows their customers to focus on core competencies that create competitive advantage and enhance profitability.
“At the companies we work with, the person managing IBM i tends to be a jack of all trades,” explains Matt Batchler, Director of Managed Services and Partner at ERP Suites. “When they are responsible for a core system, like JD Edwards, ERP Suites frees them up to do things that provide more value for the business, while we provide the JD Edwards and IBM i expertise.”
ERP Suites offers a range of services—from providing only “power and pipes” (highly available power supplies and network connections) right up to and including providing a complete ERP-as-a-Service offering in which ERP Suites owns, maintains, and manages the hardware, software, and all of the supporting infrastructure and provides JD Edwards ERP services to the customer. At the high end of the service spectrum, ERP Suites acts almost as if it were an “ERP utility”.
To be competitive and earn a profit, ERP Suites needs to be able to monitor, manage, and maintain ERP applications and the related hardware at a lower cost than its clients could achieve if they kept the system and applications in-house. The best way to do that is to realize economies of scale, which requires being able to scale up operations without resource costs rising proportionately. Halcyon, a division of HelpSystems, plays an important role in making that happen.
Managing by Exception
Halcyon delivers alerts about any issues that arise on IBM i-based systems and the JD Edwards processes running on it. This allows ERP Suites administrators to manage systems by exception, rather than having to monitor them continuously.
As a result, ERP Suites can, for example, double the number of physical systems or LPARs it manages without having to double the resources required to manage and administer them.
Beyond the efficiency afforded by managing by exception, comprehensive dashboards increase the productivity of system operators even further by allowing them to view system health at a glance.
In addition, the types of alerts that ERP Suites receives are much more useful than what was available through the tools the company used prior to installing Halcyon. For example, “we get alerts right away when accounts have been disabled,” said Batchler. “This is critical from an application perspective as a single system account may impact a large group of users. Immediate notification allows my team to respond quickly and effectively with little to no impact to the users.”
"Halcyon’s value has been immense. It has a great price point and provides exactly the solution we were looking for."
Halcyon also provides much more granular insight into the health of systems than was available in the past. “[Our old software] told us if the overall CPU was elevated, but I want my CPU to be elevated. That means it’s working,” said Batchler. “I just want to be sure it's elevated in the right way.”
While their previous tool provided alerts only about high CPU utilization, not about individual processes, Halcyon is much more specific. It alerts ERP Suites when, for example, an individual process utilizes significant resources for a long period, possibly indicating that it’s a runaway process. Upon getting an alert, rather than having to scan all running processes, an operator can immediately look at the specific process and stop it, if necessary.
Halcyon also allows ERP Suites to deliver more value and present a more professional image to its customers. The company can send customers clear, Halcyon-generated reports that, for instance, help to predict upcoming needs for additional disk or CPU resources. This allows ERP Suites and its customers to be proactive rather than merely reactive.
ERP Suites recognizes that it is not yet fully leveraging all of the features of Halcyon for its MSP business. It intends to do more in the future. For example, the company is considering using Halcyon to automatically respond to some alerts by initiating actions to resolve some types of issues before they become crises, without the need for operator intervention.
“A key component of our strategic direction is automation,” explained Batchler. “This solution aligns well with that path and keeps us among the leaders in our industry.”
The company also plans to take advantage of Halcyon’s ability to provide a much greater level of introspection into the logging of JD Edwards.
As always, the bottom line is the bottom line. Halcyon shines on this measure. “It has a great price point and provides exactly the solution we were looking for,” declared Batchler.
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