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Minimizing system downtime in a complex global upgrade

by Scott Priest, Managing Editor

June 17, 2011

During any upgrade or migration, system downtime is going to be an issue. How long can you tolerate having your business-critical systems down while switching over to new technology? When you factor in systems at different sites all over the globe, this becomes even more complex.

In the newest article at SAP Professional Journal, Oliver Kapaun and Mara Meyer of SAP discuss just such a situation. They tell the story of an SAP customer in the pharmaceutical industry that was upgrading disparate systems in North America, Latin America, Asia, and Europe (a mix of 4.6B and 4.6C) to SAP ECC 6.0 with enhancement package 4. They also required a Unicode conversion as part of the process, as well as including SCM APO into the mix.

Obviously, this is a complex process, but Oliver and Mara's team was able to help them think through their downtime issues. How long could they accept their systems being down? What methods could they use -- standard options that take longer, or a more expensive state-of-the-art option, called near-zero downtime (NZDT)?

As part of the analysis, they put together a quick reference for a number of situations:

To get a rough estimate about the technical downtime that you can e xpect from conventional methods versus NZDT methods, see Table 1. This provides possible downtimes for:

  1. An upgrade from SAP R/3 4.7 to SAP ECC 6.0 with enhancement package 4, including Support Package 16
  2. An enhancement package 4 installation together with a Support Package stack implementation of 16 from any valid SAP ECC 6.0 source
  3. A combined ABAP and Java stack update to Support Package 16

The NZDT method would allow you to upgrade the ABAP only and thus values are not directly comparable, but we’ve provided reasonable figures.

To see the full story of this upgrade, SAP Professional Journal subscribers can read the full article here. For more information on subscribing, go here.

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