A database migration is not something companies undertake lightly. Fear of downtimes makes companies reluctant to switch to a new database, even if the benefits are clear. SAP tackles this problem for its SAP Business Suite customers by helping them switch to the SAP HANA platform in as little as four hours.

The costs and business impact of database downtimes can be enormous. Many downtimes, such as airline reservations system failures are unplanned. But there are downtimes that can be planned and managed, for example when a database is replaced. Whether unplanned or planned, database downtime can be expensive and inconvenient, so it is no surprise that companies do all they can to avoid them.

SAP now helps its SAP Business Suite customers overcome their database migration reluctance by drastically minimizing downtimes with an SAP Rapid Deployment solution. SAP Business Suite customers that want to replace their underlying database with SAP HANA can do so in a matter of hours.

Reducing System Downtime Minimizes Business Losses

The first customers that migrated to SAP HANA using this new approach were able to reduce system downtime by over 50 percent. Every hour saved on system downtime leads to significant cost savings. One IT analyst estimates businesses lose between $84,000 and $108,000 for every hour of system downtime on average. Of course, downtime costs vary, not only by industry but by the scale of business operations and other factors. Financial services, telecommunications, manufacturing, and energy lead the list of industries with a high rate of revenue loss during IT downtime.

While estimates of the cost of system downtimes vary widely, it is clear that in an increasingly networked economy the cost and impact of them is rising. In 2013, the average cost per minute of unplanned downtime was $7,900, up 41 percent from $5,600 per minute in 2010, according to a survey by the Ponemon Institute, an independent research organization.

Kim Mathaess, Product Manager for SAP Rapid Deployment solutions
Kim Mathaess, Product Manager for SAP Rapid Deployment solutions

Downtime for Business-Critical Migrations Only

How is it possible to minimize system downtimes? Kim Mathaess, an SAP product manager for rapid-deployment solutions in Walldorf, explains: “With our downtime-optimized approach we can migrate data while productive systems are still up and running. We can usually transfer approximately 90% of a customer’s source system upfront. Of course, during this phase of the uptime migration, ensuring stability and consistency of the running system is critical. We track all delta information during the first migration step, which means that the system has to be shut down only while we migrate the delta. That way, we can cut downtime significantly. Under optimal conditions, we have reached downtimes of as little as four hours.”

SAP Business Suite Upgrade Coupled with Migration to SAP HANA

While not always necessary, migrating to an SAP HANA database is a good opportunity for customers to upgrade to the latest version of SAP Business Suite. Upgrading the software and migrating the database does not slow the overall process down. The promise of overall optimized downtimes can still be kept.

Mathaess explains: “We not only simplified the migration process, but also integrated and simplified the upgrade process. Just recently, an SAP customer from the manufacturing industry wanted to upgrade and migrate their SAP ERP system to SAP HANA. The uncompressed source database size was 2 TB. Using the new approach, the technical downtime for the upgrade to SAP ERP EhP 7 and the migration to SAP HANA was under 6 hours! If we include additional steps like testing, the overall business downtime was less than a day.”

Overcoming Other Migration Obstacles with a Proven Method

In addition to the fear of system downtime, there are other concerns, such as unpredictability in scope, cost, timing, and risk that need to be addressed before SAP Business Suite customers switch to SAP HANA.

SAP addresses these concerns by offering a proven migration methodology, which allows for better planning. The rapid-deployment solution automates the migration process with a combination of preconfigured software, standardized content, and end-user enablement. It is complemented by SAP Services to ensure professional planning and a successful implementation.

SAP recommends starting with a solid plan and offers a fixed price, fixed scope strategy and technical design service to define the optimum SAP HANA deployment strategy and migration path, with minimal disruption and risk. More information is available here.

Reaping the Full Benefits of SAP HANA

According to Mathaess, “The minimized downtime approach helped us persuade customers to overcome their reluctance to migrate to SAP HANA. I don’t know a single customer who has regretted it. On the contrary: These customers now fully reap the benefits of the powerful real-time platform for their operations. They agree that it was worth a few hours of downtime. They are now also perfectly positioned to benefit from any SAP innovations that run on SAP HANA, and from real-time, in-memory computing.”

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