Friday, 4 February 2011

Upgrading SAP

Lots of projects on the go at the moment. One of them is upgrading our Finance/HR/Payroll systems - SAP. This project is a very much 'a CiCS provides the foundations for others'  project so there is a lot of initial pressure on us to deliver the technology upfront. It has been a real collaborative effort, calling on colleagues in different areas of CiCS in order to meet the goals.

There's  two main phases -  a technical upgrade and a functional upgrade. Currently the technology used by SAP does not lend itself to easy customisation, whereas the upgraded technology is far more flexible and accommodating. Also, the current SAP infrastructure consists of 13 physical servers and we plan to migrate all  the SAP applications onto a new cluster of virtual servers - so far the team have set up 25 virtual servers. There's lots of benefits to this - easier maintenance, better performance, increased resilience and disaster recovery, its easier to maintain, and it reduces our carbon footprint therefore helping us achieve our carbon reduction targets.

Because the responsibilities for SAP are spread across different departments (us, Finance and HR ) one of the key issues is communication. We're making extensive use of our collaboration environment uSpace to address this issue,  and the project manager is posting documents, logs and  a blog to help keep people informed of progress.

The project has also had to quickly adapt to changes in circumstances, so that if a resource is going to be unavailable in a particular area, then the project has had to re-prioritise to accommodate this, and this can lead to extremely tight deadlines.  Our SAP support consultant spent a day evaluating one stage of the project and concluded that we had an extremely aggressive timescale and that even with their knowledge and experience they would find it difficult to meet and suggested an extra 4-6 weeks would be a more realistic timescale. But - the deadline was met through sheer hard work and determination by all involved, so well done - especially the BASIS team, who I know worked through the Christmas break to get there.

As with any upgrade project, the work has had to be fitted in around the day-to-day running of the systems, which currently include applying and testing the legislative legal patches in time for the end of the tax year. So, thanks to everyone for the work so far - the BASIS team, the developers, the Unix team, the storage team, and the project manager, who I'm told still looks a little shell shocked by the whole thing....

4 comments:

cal said...

When you say Virtual Servers do you mean solaris zones or are you moving off solaris to VMWare? The latter wold be of interest to us in Newcastle.

Chris Sexton said...

I'm reliably informed that it's Solaris Zones with Solaris Cluster if that helps

Neil Campbell said...

We have a host server in each machine room that is capable of running the entire SAP infrastructure on its own. Each Solaris zone runs as a SAP application as a self contained entity. We can distribute load and resources per application across the multiple servers. If you want to drop me an email at sapbasis@sheffield.ac.uk with any questions, I would be happy to elaborate.

cal said...

Thanks for the reply Chris and Neil. We in Newcastle are largely solaris + zones based at the moment but are assessing whether we can make more use of our x86 VMware infrastructure for our SAP workload.