In Germany, Tesafilm has been a synonym for transparent, adhesive tape for generations. The name is so familiar that it’s listed in standard Germany dictionaries. The adhesive film has been on the market since the beginning of the twentieth century and has a surprising property. In 1998, scientists discovered that it’s also a good medium for storing large volumes of data. That’s how the traditional product of the Beiersdorf Group, headquartered in Hamburg, Germany, turned into a new branch of business: tesa ROM technology and the Holospot process for digital holograms.
tesa AG has been an independent company since 2001; it used to be part of the Beiersdorf Group. As it became independent, the young company had to decide if it wanted to outsource the operation of its business-critical enterprise software to an external service provider. After all, whether employees enter orders or issue invoices, nothing happens at tesa without enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications. “We couldn’t afford to have an application run incorrectly or not at all,” says Marius Dahler, director of applications at tesa. “High-availability systems are a must for us. That’s why we looked for an outsourcing partner who solves problems right away – not three days later.”
High availability essential
The company also needed effective monitoring of its applications and technical competence in consulting. System availability and the performance of applications had to be optimized. tesa also needed consulting for a migration project. The company wanted to convert from a Windows NT environment to a 64-bit Sun Solaris landscape to achieve greater stability.
In 2004, tesa decided on TDS AG, an SAP partner headquartered in Neckarsulm, Germany. “We didn’t want a 10-person team. We wanted a few experts who knew all areas well,” says Dahler. “More than anything else, there had to be good chemistry between us. We basically understand ourselves as a large midsize company, so we looked for a supplier of a similar size so that we could communicate at the same level.”
In September 2004, the service provider took over complete operations and maintenance of the SAP environment for national offices throughout continental Europe. One month later, tesa outsourced additional applications for production control and its Citrix servers. TDS operates an SAP R/3 landscape for tesa that consists of a development, test, and production system along with a two-level environment for SAP Business Information Warehouse (SAP BW).
In a separate environment, TDS also operates the two-level SAP R/3 system of the tesa office in Great Britain. The separation is based upon the company’s history, but tesa hopes to end it next year and merge both landscapes. tesa also plans to outsource additional applications to TDS, including archiving and statistics solutions.
Systems under control at all times
Applications must be monitored around the clock to maintain the requirements of the outsourcing agreement: 99 percent availability and restoration of out-of-service systems within four hours. When a breakdown occurs, the monitoring systems based upon BMC Patrol software issue a notification immediately so that TDS specialists can analyze and correct the problem immediately.
A completely redundant IT environment serves tesa as a safety net. In the first of the two completely separate computer centers, TDS operates tesa’s productive applications, currently 34 servers and their storage systems and databases. All data of the enterprise-critical production control system is copied to the second computer center with snapshot technology. This approach ensures that tesa plants receive the data they require around the clock. In the second computer center, the outsourcer operates the test and quality assurance systems, which take over productive operations in the event of an outage.
Data transport by courier
The large number of servers, enormous quantities of data, and the migration to a new server landscape made the transfer of the tesa solutions to the TDS computer center a demanding project. Nonetheless, the conversion took only six weeks – including preparation. The greatest challenge proved to be the tight window of opportunity for data migration. To affect productive operations as little as possible, all the data from SAP R/3 and SAP BW for four tesa plants in Europe had to move to the computer center at TDS between Friday and Sunday. Employees of the previous provider copied the data to portable hard disks that a courier took to TDS. The data was copied and entered at TDS.
The service desk at tesa is the first point of contact for users. Employees at the service desk redirect questions about SAP solutions to the appropriate contact persons at TDS, who can be called at any time – day or night. Marius Dahler is satisfied with the service. “The experts react quickly and meet our requirements rapidly, even when the tasks at hand are difficult.”
Reporting also highlights the quality of service. TDS provides IT personnel at tesa with a portal from which they can view all information on availability and system load. They can even look at response time.
SAP in cyrillic
TDS also supports tesa with country-specific problems. When the Beiersdorf Group outsourced the SAP solutions of tesa national offices in the Baltic countries in 2004, Cyrillic character sets had to be imported into the existing tesa systems in the computer system. The problem? Limited demand in the market meant that hardly any experts on the character sets were available. And time was also critical. The service contract covering operation of the SAP solutions with the Beiersdorf Group expired at the end of 2004. TDS found an unconventional solution that it could implement because of its good connections with SAP. SAP Moscow imported the character sets into the systems at the computer center.