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Bet You Missed the Biggest Demonstration of SAP Technology at SAP TechEd 2000 Las Vegas!

by SAP Insider | SAPinsider

October 1, 2000

by SAP Insider SAPinsider - 2000 (Volume 1), October (Issue 2)

If you attended SAP TechEd 2000 in Las Vegas, you undoubtedly saw a lot. What you didn't see, unless you looked for it, was the immense technical foundation that made it all possible. This article gives you a better look at the SAP technology at work behind the scenes, and the people who made it all hum.

If you were lucky enough to find yourself at SAP TechEd 2000 in Las Vegas this past June, you undoubtedly saw a lot: new technologies for collaborative, interenterprise e-business; hundreds of intensive hands-on workshops and lecture presentations; and industry insights from keynote speakers Chris Larsen and Karl-Heinz Hess.

      What you didn't see - unless you looked for it - was the immense technical foundation that made it all possible. Here, we can give you a better look at the biggest and best presentation of SAP technology at the entire conference. This was the show that ran every moment, all day, every day, and yet the one that did its best to keep a low profile and simply stay humming quietly in the background.

The SAP TechEd 2000 IT Team

Equipment Array

SAP TechEd 2000 brought together 4,000 IT professionals, sysadmins, developers, and partners, and an immense set of IT challenges. Consider the following equipment manifest (we're talking some serious hardware here):

  • 78 R/3 servers and 835 laptop PCs

  • 25,000 feet of cable - in addition to the wiring in place at the convention center!

  • Roughly 1,000 network connects

  • 15 printers and 5 fax machines

  • 25 kiosks

      The SAP TechEd 2000 technical team had only a few days to get all this equipment up and running, and not all the same R/3 release, either! Some servers ran 4.0B, 4.6B, 4.6C, plus Workplace servers and Business Warehouse servers as well.

Services Provided

More then 330 lectures, education sessions, theater presentations, and hands-on sessions - which are what SAP TechEd is so famous for - had to be "guaranteed working," and required access to the R/3 servers and often to the Internet as well.

      This was no small task: imagine 50 students in a typical hands-on classroom, each seated in front of a laptop that has been pre-loaded with software demos and exercises. All these PCs, as well as the instructor's, had to connect back to the R/3 servers. What's more, as many as 200 users could be connected simultaneously to each R/3 server. At one point during the classroom setup they were writing over 50 gigabytes/minute to hard drives in the classrooms! "Making sure that students had the right software was a huge challenge," says Barry Barnett, Technical Manager, "because the software images had to be swapped out and reloaded between sessions - and sometimes the IT staff had just 15 minutes to pull that off for over 300 PCs."

More on the R/3 Servers at SAP TechEd 2000

R/3 server hardware: Compaq 5500 servers - 4 processor (Pentium 3 Xeon 550Mhz), 4 GB of RAM, 10 18.2-GB drives, running NT 4.0 Server Enterprise Edition

All R/3 servers were installed as central instances (each server ran both a database and R/3; there were no application servers)

Most R/3 servers could handle 200 to 250 concurrent users without any major performance problems

Building an R/3 server generally took about 6 hours: 1 hour to set up the OS and 5 hours to install R/3, the database, and the data files

To refresh an R/3 server (which was done nightly) took about 4 hours

Server release designations:

  • 3 servers with Oracle database for 4.0B, 50 servers with Microsoft SQL Server 7.0 database for 4.6B and 4.6C

  • 8 servers with Oracle database for BW and B2B, and 13 additional servers for Workplace, ITS, and APO

  • 1 server for warehousing scripts for database refreshes and R/3 builds, and 3 spare servers in case of hardware failure

  • Other servers: 1 350-GB EMC unit for archiving backups of the compressed data files, 1 Unix system for Legato tape backup function, 3 NT servers functioning as PDC, BDC, and print servers


Team Organization

When asked for the prerequisites for supporting a successful show, Barnett answered that it was "the infrastructure of the IT staff - even more than the technology." The team had groups organized around specific areas (Workstations, Support, etc.), and each needed to be a nimble and responsive organization. The team leads for each of these areas were:

  • Barry Barnett, Technical Manager
  • David Hutto, Workstation Lead
  • Peggy Brooks, Team Liaison
  • Kris Meier, Asset Management
  • Mark Staples, R/3 Basis Support Lead
  • Evan Stoddard, Workstation Templates
  • Ben Grazzaffi, Servers
  • Timothy Klein, Data & Power
  • Patricia Fassnacht, Telecommunication
  • Francine Liable, Support Center
  • Martin Smith, Networking

      "This was a team effort," says Staples, who was responsible for managing the R/3 server array. "To move and support 78 servers is a huge undertaking. Everyone on the team did their part to make this a success."

      "These people worked amazingly hard and well together," agrees Hutto, leader of the Workstation group, "in particular Mark Staples, Evan Stoddard, who developed all our base templates, Paul Ivy, who assisted with the template development, and Belinda Edwards, who contacted each developer to confirm their technical requirements. And everyone else, who kept the ship afloat no matter what we threw at them. I'd stake this team against any other in the world."

Technical Manager Barry Barnett Some members of the R/3 Team found a moment to pose for a photo (from left to right, first row): Bob Stadter, Ben Grizzaffi, Michael Lendvay, Matt Johnson, Mark Staples; (second row) Mark Timlin, Ed Burkhalter, Matt Hicks

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