For many IT managers, an upgrade is a real toil. But sooner or later, an enterprise, particularly one that uses an older SAP R/3 release, will have to carry out a version upgrade in order to avoid higher support costs.
One important task during an upgrade is the copying of the production data, which usually requires productive operation to be interrupted. This downtime can be reduced if data replication is carried out automatically. Doing this also reduces risks during the upgrade, such as tests with incomplete data or the overrunning of agreed timeframes.
In addition, automatic replication independent of upgrade projects is helpful, because it makes it possible to implement new SAP modules or carry out application tests, training, or data mining without interrupting productive operation.
Copying databases in just a few hours
Two new solutions from EMC offer support in this area. They accelerate the replication processes, reduce the risks involved with version upgrades, and increase productivity in the SAP environment. The EMC Replication Accelerator “for SAP Upgrades” supports the upgrading of SAP R/3 solutions to newer software versions such as SAP R/3 Enterprise or mySAP ERP by automatically replicating important business data. It allows you to copy not only whole SAP databases, but also the data from other applications that are integrated in the system. At the same time, the solution reduces both the downtime and the risk of lost data, and takes the burden off resources, such as personnel, CPU load, or network load.
The second solution, the EMC Replication Accelerator “for SAP Productivity”, supports enterprises in increasing the productivity of their SAP environment over the long term. It automatically creates copies of the critical enterprise data from the SAP solution database needed for analyses, reports, or tests. In addition, it generates clones of productive SAP databases, which can be used to test new installations without risk. In this way, performance tests, checks on data integrity, or user training courses can be separated from productive operation.
With the replication solution from EMC, the “cloning” of SAP databases lasts – depending on volume – minutes or hours, rather than the days it used to take. One user was therefore able to copy the SAP production environment with 600 GB automatically and without interruption, for example. Without the EMC Accelerator, this process used to take three to four days. Another organization reduced the downtime during the upgrade from 60 to just seven hours. SAP upgrades with the EMC Replication Accelerator “for SAP-Upgrades” offer better control, availability, and resource distribution, all at lower costs. The BASIS team can create test environments with new data clones easily on request. As many of the tests can be carried out before the live upgrade, with less load on the infrastructure, the risk of a downtime is reduced. Upgrades and database replications thus become processes that cause IT managers relatively few headaches.
Implementing upgrades more efficiently
Service experts from the EMC Technology Solutions Group plan and implement the replication solutions together with customers and system integrators. Both solutions are designed for networked Symmetrix and Clariion storage systems. They consist of various software products from EMC, such as the EMC Replication Manager, TimeFinder or PowerPath, in order to guarantee the security and availability of information and infrastructure. The EMC Replication Manager creates the copies and manages them without the administrator having to deal with details of the storage system. The Timefinder software from EMC generates the duplicates in the storage system, while Powerpath is used for volume and path management.
Companies that want to use the EMC Replication Accelerator “for SAP Upgrades” for their upgrade can either configure the solution before the migration project or incorporate it as part of the upgrade. With the EMC Replication Manager, specialists from EMC define the automated processes for memory replication, by preparing the database for creation of the replicas and ensuring that the whole database can be copied. Thanks to this preparatory work, BASIS or database administrators can generate the data copies ad hoc at any point in time, or at regular intervals, at the touch of a button, and thus implement the upgrade more efficiently and securely. As a rule, replication is carried out directly before the start and at the end of the upgrade. However, copies can also be made at key points in the upgrade process, in order to have a point from which to restart, should the next phase fail.
The IT infrastructure must be prepared for the implementation of the replication solution. First, it is necessary to design a storage architecture for the SAP environment. Here, central management and networked storage resources ensure the low-cost and secure operation of the storage solution. This makes it possible for networked resources to distribute and use the storage capacities from all connected computers. A prerequisite for using the EMC Replication Manager (ERM) is the definition of users, and the creation of activities, infosets, memory pools, and scripting. This enables the automatic data replicators to be executed in a clearly defined environment.
In addition, SAP-specific and database-specific aspects such as user-defined enhancements or modifications must be taken into consideration. The configurations recommended by EMC for servers, storage area networks (SAN), and storage systems should be developed accordingly, as the use of tried and tested environments minimizes risks. For a clear overview and the search for potential errors, it is also useful to list all components of the SAP database and its connection to logical unit numbers (LUNs or volumes, the actual “storage spaces”) or to storage systems. Companies should also obtain an overview of all areas of the infrastructure where performance can be optimized. After this preparatory work, the ERM-enablement (enterprise replication management), that is the replication of company-wide data, can be planned and implemented for the productive SAP environment.
Controlling replication processes from the desktop
With the help of the EMC solution, BASIS administrators can control the automation of the SAP replication process from their desktop and generate test environments at the touch of a button. They obtain information about the ERM functions and configuration, as well as details on host registration, memory assignment, user profiles, the execution of certain actions, the creation of infosets and activities, and post script calls. Via the ERM graphical user interface, administrators can determine the parameters for new data copies themselves, and thus independently of other IT staff. The experts from EMC explain pre- and post-scripting to the system and database administrators step by step. In addition, a detailed manual provides support for questions relating to the running and maintenance of the replication environment.