SAP Hybris: Achieving Omni-channel with Application Performance

The retail industry is transforming in today’s digital age. Consumer behavior keeps evolving and online spending is skyrocketing. In addition, retail customers are looking for a blended online and in-store experience and expecting brick-and-mortar stores and online channels to be integrated through an omni-channel strategy. This requires retailers to become customer obsessed and strive to deliver personalized, convenient and seamless shopping experiences online and in the stores.

SAP Hybris omni-channel commerce is well positioned to help these customer focused retailers in their journey of digital transformation by offering a single system for managing product content, commerce operations and channels. Thus helping retailers, manufacturers and others to create a unified and seamless cross-channel experience for their customers – from online, to in-store, to mobile and beyond.

Performance monitoring of SAP Hybris E-Commerce environment is key to delivering exceptional customer experience  

Today, e-commerce, mobile applications, and an integrated omni-channel strategy are key to success for retailers. However, poor performing e-commerce and mobile applications taking over 3 seconds to respond are fatal to retailer’s reputation, brand and revenue.There are no second chances in this digital world: when you’re not available, someone else is – your competitors are just a click away. This means that ensuring flawless performance and optimizing customer experience is critical for retail success.

Although the SAP Hybris E-Commerce solution is very well positioned to help retailers by offering a single system for managing product content, commerce operations and channels, a sophisticated end-to-end monitoring solution for SAP Hybris becomes necessary to quickly isolate and resolve performance issues in order to ensure exceptional end-user experience.

Retailers deploying SAP Hybris based E-Commerce and mobile apps face many challenges as they try to effectively manage the end-to-end customer experience, including:

  • Avoiding application performance problems impacting the consumer. Technical glitches, especially during peak periods (i.e. Black Friday and Cyber Monday) impact revenue immediately as many of the consumers would be deterred from using a retailer again after a negative experience.

  • Promoting agility in software management processes. To stay ahead of the competition, retailers need to move to an agile operating model. This is essential because with the right management solutions it allows for a fast Mean Time To Resolution (MTTR) of application performance issues and enables teams to work together when developing or enhancing application offerings.

  • Securing 5 star rated mobile apps. The retail application landscape is as competitive as the industry as a whole. The number of apps in use is growing by day meaning highly responsive, convenient and usable apps are a must to secure 5 star app ratings.

  • Correlating application and customer experience data. Applications are the primary channel for customer engagement. Unfortunately, without substantial investment into building a custom analytics solution, retailers can’t get actionable insights.

SAP Hybris: Open and extensible Java based architecture

The execution environment for the Hybris platform is a Java EE Servlet Container, for example Tomcat  or VMware vFabric Server, which is also based on Tomcat but provides commercial support.

The platform and all extensions to it run within the Spring environment, which allows easy configuration of each component and provides generic logic such as security, caching, clustering and persistence.  

 

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Figure 1: Architectural overview of the hybris Commerce Suite

An extension may simply provide additional business logic without exposing a visible UI or it may also contain a Frontend Java Web Application. A natural framework choice to realize the frontend web application in hybris Spring environment is to use the Spring MVC Framework, but any Java Web Framework such as JSF or Struts may be used.

AppDynamics Application Intelligence Platform ensures flawless SAP Hybris Commerce performance

As mentioned above, the execution environment of Hybris platform is a Java EE Servlet Container and most of the extensions and front-end applications are developed using Java or Java framework.

AppDynamics Application Performance Management (APM), a module of AppDynamics Application Intelligence Platform, is one of the leading Java APM solutions in the industry. Retailers can get complete visibility into the most complex Java powered Hybris based retail and omni-channel commerce application out of the box with AppDynamics APM. With APM, end-user monitoring, infrastructure visibility and application analytics modules, AppDynamics Application Intelligence Platform integrates monitoring, troubleshooting, and analytics capabilities to provide real-time, actionable IT operational and business insights into Hybris based application performance, user experience, and business outcomes — all in real time, and all in production.

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Figure 2: AppDynamics Flowmap of  Hybris based retail commerce application

AppDynamics delivers a comprehensive solution to help retailers maximize their business performance. The platform embraces three key principles:

  • See faster with Unified Monitoring: Identify customer-impacting issues quickly with end-to-end business transaction monitoring.

  • Act sooner with Unified Troubleshooting: Minimize business impact with rapid problem resolution.

  • Know more with Unified Analytics: Correlate application performance to business impact.

All of this happens in real time, in production, giving retailers more visibility, understanding, and control across applications, infrastructure, and user experience. The platform offers the added flexibility of SaaS or on-premises deployment, in order to match and flex with business requirements and data ownership.

Key AppDynamics Features  

  • Automatically visualize and map Java based Hybris solution dependencies

  • Monitor JVM health and performance

  • Automatically baseline performance to alert and address  emerging issues in context of Business Transactions

  • Quickly isolate and resolve production java application performance issues at code-level depth with minimal overhead

  • Enhance Dev & Ops collaboration with role-based views and Virtual War Room

  • End to end visibility into application environment with End-user Monitoring, APM and Infrastructure visibility modules

  • Actionable insights into application performance, user experience, and business outcomes

Enterprises of every description are pursuing digital transformation to satisfy user expectations for always-on, always effective engagement, and to realize the competitive efficiencies and advantages of digital delivery. Digital Transformation is not a choice for retailers, it’s a business imperative. This means that ensuring flawless performance and optimizing customer experience is critical to retail success.

AppDynamics Application Intelligence helps retailers, including those leveraging Hybris to power their applications, take their digital strategies from good to great by ensuring mobile and eCommerce performance, allowing business, dev and ops teams to collaborate easily and automatically correlating technical performance with business outcomes. Take a walk through the platform and see how your enterprise can leverage application performance to gain the most of their applications. 

How Omni-Channel is Your E-Commerce Application Monitoring?

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Like it or not, an ever-expanding holiday season is here, and the words moratorium and code freeze are being heard around the halls of many retailers who are gearing up for their Super Bowl of shopping. Just this time last year I was responsible for middleware performance of a leading online and mobile payment provider, and I remember the excitement, and stress, of heading into this time of year. With mobile (mCommerce) and ecommerce shopping trends skyrocketing, expectations and demand for the business and technology we worked so hard to build were extremely high.

This year alone eMarketer predicts Business to Consumer (B2C) e-commerce sales will increase over 20%, to upwards of $1.5 Trillion Dollars, and by 2017, that number jump to $2.3 Trillion. Mobile trends are predicted to show an equally impressive growth; mCommerce in the US alone is estimated to grow $52 to $86.8 Billion from 2014 to 2016 (eMarketer). Moreover, with the growth comes the challenge, as IT organizations are pushed to understand, manage, and support heterogeneous customer access points and technology stacks in parallel.

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With the competitive nature of e-commerce, managing and optimizing end-user experience has never been more important. Studies co-authored by Bing and Google – http://radar.oreilly.com/2009/06/bing-and-google-agree-slow-pag.html– prove a direct correlation between page speed and revenue, determining that even a 500 ms delay can have a significant impact over most any Key Performance Indicator (KPI).

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AppDynamics is deeply involved in helping online, and offline, retailers guarantee service delivery during these critical times. While mobile is certainly the wave of the future, improving end-user experience does not start or stop, at the browser and mobile device. The brick and mortar point of sale (POS) remains an essential element to many retailers omni-channel strategy.

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Whether it is a custom solution or built on top of a 3rd party platform like Retalix, AppDynamics provides complete monitoring visibility, fault isolation, and diagnostics end-to-end across the entire POS system. Below is an example of a Retalix environment where AppDynamics is providing real-time, end-to-end application performance monitoring coverage, including: in-store registers, self-checkout, systems, price scanners, backend services, integrations with external systems, and backend databases.

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Using AppDynamics, we’ve enabled IT to monitor, map, and score 100% of the Retalix Point of Sale (POS) transactions in real-time as well, as well as getting out of the box visibility into the exact business functions being executed. If and when there is a problem, the operations team is equipped to take immediate action by:

  • Receiving a notification identifying what performance degradation is occurring, and which stores and business services are impacted; e.g., a response-time problem at critical severity affects all mid-west stores.
  • Identifying the business function impact: understanding the problem affects the item scan feature in the self-checkout aisles
  • Isolating precisely what components are degraded, by visualizing the end-to-end application topology; knowing the failure lies within the store or regional servers, a network link, shared backend services or databases.
  • Quickly diagnosing the issue down to a source line of code or SQL query.
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    Consumer trends are driving the business rapidly to expand commerce over multiple channels, and as highlighted above our goal is always to enable IT to follow suit with an equally comprehensive monitoring plan. Failure to do so, despite best intentions, leads to what we call the Frank-Monitor problem; a series of loosely or de-coupled point solutions that fail to integrate into an effective end-to-end capability.

    So when you are considering how best to define, initiate, or develop, your monitoring strategy, make sure to ask yourself just how omni are you, actually?

    Because despite the best efforts to stitch together disparate solutions into a cohesive understanding of system performance, it almost always ends up a science project!

    Want to give AppDynamics a try for your e-commerce platform? Download a FREE trial today!