There really are two completely different worlds: While private users update the software on their computers nearly every year, companies run the same programs on their servers for 10 to 15 years. After all, corporate clients have neither the option nor the desire to switch
IT systems on a whim. Meeting the short-notice requirements of today’s interconnected economy, however, does sometimes demand fundamental changes in companies’ ERP systems. This, in turn, entails the latest version of the software in question; see our article Preview: EHP 5 for SAP ERP 6.0.
It starts with the question of whether the targeted software upgrade will require a new hardware platform. Many companies run dated server hardware that should be swapped out during the transition to the latest generation of SAP software. We cover this later in the series based on the example of an actual company that switched SAP systems in 28 hours. Without sound preparation prior to the upgrade itself and strict adherence to the prescribed sequence of actions, this would not have been possible.
This initial installment of our article series delivers an overview of the entire upgrade process without delving into the details. We then describe the updates legacy systems require; the installation of new servers, including operating systems and databases; the installation of SAP R/3, along with backups of the previous data status; database upgrades, and finally, the actual transition to SAP ERP 6.0, including installation of the latest enhancement package – see also article EHP: Keeping SAP Up-to-Date.
As has been especially apparent at industry events and special in-house exhibitions, larger companies in particular have recently been considering bolstering their ERP systems. The basic tenor being heard from many IT managers indicates that numerous companies still rely on SAP R/3 4.7×200 and the key components FI, CO, FM, SD, MM, and HR. Over the years, these organizations have expanded their live systems and made other constant adjustments to meet current predominant requirements. It should be noted, however, that while maintenance is still offered for all SAP R/3 systems, updates are no longer released for the software.
Those interested have the option of making an incremental transition from SAP R/3 4.7c to SAP ECC6.0 (ERP Central Component), the latest version of the application. In this series of articles, we’ll tell you which basic steps are necessary to upgrade while aiding your general understanding of the process with plenty of screenshots. Meanwhile, the different sections will point you toward the impressive array of documents and guides SAP offers.
In the following step-by-step guides, we show you how to switch from your old hardware and software to an all-new system while transferring your data to an up-to-date database.
For the sake of our example, the starting system will be an HP ProLiant DL380 server running on four processors and the Windows 2003 Server SE operating system. Its other software components include a Microsoft SQL Server 2000 database, the 32-bit SAP Kernel 6.40 NUC, SAP ABA/BASIS 6.20 SP64, SAP APPL 4.7 SP30, SAP HR 4.7 SP84, and SAP EA-XX 200 SP15.
In the existing system, the collation *BIN is first changed to *BIN2. This is necessary to facilitate the later transition from Microsoft SQL Server 2000 to SQL Server 2005. Each collation contains rules for sorting and comparing the entries in the Microsoft database. A full backup is then made for the subsequent homogeneous system copy (HSC) of the SQL database.
In this case, the target system is a 64-bit Dell RAC 5 server. The system is first configured at the operating-system level; we’ll use Windows 2003 EE x64. The database will be in the 64-bit Unicode version of Microsoft SQL Server 2005 and collation *BIN2. We’ll now install the 64-bit variant of SAP Kernel 6.40 NUC. All of the necessary SAP components and their service packs will be installed on the new server as they were on the previous configuration; this will involve a fresh installation of SAP R/3 4.7×200.
Then comes the HSC, in which we’ll restore the database backup from the previous server. The STM download takes place on SAP Service Marketplace (direct link).
Following the successful configuration of the new system, including the operating system and upgrade from a 32-bit to a 64-bit database, we can begin with the actual transition to the latest version of SAP ERP. Here, good planning and key-user testing that covers all of the business processes and preceding activities involved are especially important; we’ll deal with the latter topic in a separate article. At the end of the overall upgrade process, we’ll have a new SAP ERP 6.0 platform that includes enhancement package 4 . We’re now ready to go live!
The image on the first page of this article summarizes our basic approach, but in practice, a number of additional steps are needed between these phases. The only way to document them is with a great many screenshots, which we will present in the course of this extensive article series.
Why to Upgrade to ECC6.0
Planning ERP installations and their further components for the next decade used to be something of a tradition in companies’ IT departments. Major changes were a rarity, and when they were made, their scope was often still rather small. However, comparatively old and inflexible ERP systems can no longer keep pace with today’s business world. This is why IT managers are weighing the costs and benefits of upgrading their SAP software; for more, check out Enhancement Packages Deliver the Innovations.
In the end, it’s mainly about reducing maintenance costs and enhancing the business processes the new SAP ERP system covers. The latter is particularly key in coping with the increasing complexity of said processes: Obsolete software does not facilitate frequent adjustments and changes, and even slight modifications are relatively expensive. Enter the free updates that have been regularly available since the introduction of SAP’s enhancement packages, all of which are currently included in EHP4 – see also From ERP 6.0 to Business Suite 7 and SAP ERP 6.0 at a Fixed Price.
Example case demonstrated at ITU in Geneva
We were recently on-location at the International Telecommunication Union in Geneva, Switzerland, to demonstrate our approach to switching from SAP R/3 to SAP ERP 6.0. Founded in May of 1865, the ITU is one of the oldest international organizations and a special entity of the United Nations. It currently comprises 191 member nations and deals with global issues concerning the technical aspects of telecommunication.
In the days ahead, we’ll be publishing further articles in this series to give interested readers a solid basis for upgrading their SAP software.