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Up to 1,000 SAP Changes over the Weekend

How IT teams use automation and standards to improve efficiency, productivity, and quality in equal measure

June 16 2021Lars Micheel

Manage SAP systems of all types

While our first article dealt with the basics of IT automation, we are now taking a look behind the scenes: 10,000 SAP instances, various releases, operating systems and databases – this is how heterogeneous the SAP landscapes managed by T-Systems are. It would be impossible to operate them purely manually, it would be too costly and time-consuming. Automation and standards help to manage the systems cost-efficiently and securely.

Monitoring suite provides an all-round view

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For years, T-Systems has been developing its own tools and platforms for monitoring individual customer installations more efficiently, such as the Systems Management Suite (SMS). At the application level alone, it monitors 350 SAP parameters in real time, reports incidents, and initiates appropriate responses. At the same time, it is proactive: An early warning system can be used to detect and resolve possible problems at an early stage – such as almost full drives or databases, or necessary hardware maintenance. Such an approach makes a significant contribution to avoiding downtimes.

Managing backups automatically

In addition to the Systems Management Suite (SMS), the tool framework for data consistency, backup, and restore also facilitates SAP operations. It is based on our many years of experience with SAP private cloud projects and also enables reliable backup and recovery capability of databases such as Oracle, Sybase, or SAP HANA in the public cloud.

And this is how the tool works: The backups run automatically in the background, the time and scope can be managed through the multi-hybrid cloud portal from T-Systems. If the backup does not run as it should, the software generates an error message. Based on previously defined rules, the tool either automatically restarts the backup or repeats it at night to ensure that the performance of the relevant system is not diminished in day-to-day operations.

1,000 SAP transformation projects per year

Every year, we support more than 1,000 customers on their journey to becoming an intelligent company with our comprehensive end-to-end SAP offer – covering everything from advice on migrating existing SAP systems over to SAP S/4HANA, to application management and service integration during operations. In the video, Uwe Birkenhauer, PU SAP Chapter Lead Portfolio Management at T-Systems, reports on how we go about this.

Always up to date

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New patches for SAP systems are typically available every three months. We install at least 40,000 patches to our 10,000 or so customer systems every year, plus updates and complex release upgrades. To reduce the associated costs, we automated 40 SAP changes using standardized scripts and workflows. This includes operating system patches, database upgrades, and SAP kernel updates. Instead of doing this themselves, our administrators simply monitor the processes through the Cloud Automation Management Portal (CAMP). In this way, errors can be avoided and changes implemented more quickly – between 800 and 1,000 changes in one weekend.

Attention, maintenance mode!

Operating system updates and the associated processes are particularly well-suited for automation. The relevant systems shut down automatically, update, and reboot themselves. At the same time, as part of the monitoring solution, the system must move into a maintenance mode to ensure there is no error message during shutdown. After the update, the system returns to live status.

Oracle upgrade in two hours

The upgrading of Oracle databases is also very suitable for automation. Once it was clear, which release a customer would like to upgrade to with the next patch, the administrators previously had to scroll through SAP documentation and conduct extensive tests to check whether all system components were compatible with the new version.

We automated this process by defining central standards for all releases and testing compatibility with all available platforms. With the central patch repository, we need just two hours, as opposed to a whole day, for an Oracle upgrade. One way in which the administrators use the saved time was to continue developing the systems.

Keeping the quality high

Examples show that automation not only reduces manual processes, but also increases quality and availability. Smooth operations no longer depend on individual administrators, but are based on best practices for SAP operations. Because we use automation across all our global operations, we can achieve the same high quality standards everywhere.

And what is next? In the next article, we will look at the migration of SAP systems to the private or public cloud. We will show you how our Cloud Migration Framework can help you transform your operations smoothly, what is important when migrating corporate data, and how SAP landscapes can be future-proofed using automation and standards.

About the author

Lars Micheel

Head of SAP Solution Delivery, T-Systems International GmbH

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