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This chapter is from the book

Case Study: Hour 4

In light of your newfound hardware, operating system, and database knowledge, consider this hour’s case study and answer the questions that follow. Answers may be found in Appendix A, “Case Study Answers.”

Situation

MNC Global recently acquired a company in the process of upgrading to a new release of SAP ERP 6.0. Currently, the acquisition runs SAP R/3 4.6C hosted by IBM on older 32-bit hardware, running AIX 5.x and an older release of Oracle (8.1.7), all connected to a best-in-class third party storage system. The $6M annual price tag associated with hosting is greater than MNC wishes to spend in the future, though. Fortunately, the outsourcing contract is coming to a close in the next 12 months. Thus, the combined company has made a strategic decision to in-source its new SAP environment in an effort to provide greater flexibility to its business while hopefully cutting IT costs in the process. The current SAP R/3 database is 500GB in size and supports about 1000 users.

MNC has several options as they see it. First, they can buy new IBM AIX-supported equipment and move the database to MNC’s local datacenter. In this way, they can stay on the same platform, making the technical transition fairly straightforward. Once the system is hosted in-house, the upcoming SAP technical upgrade could then be performed. Neither MNC nor the firm being acquired has IBM AIX expertise in house, but both are strong when it comes to Oracle administration and support.

Another option put forth by MNC’s IT department is to buy less-expensive commodity hardware and move SAP to a new platform. MNC IT has grown comfortable with supporting Microsoft Windows and both Oracle and SQL Server over the last several years, and is anxious to apply their knowledge to SAP. Such a transition or “replatforming” to a Windows platform would cost $500K in consulting and migration services and another $2M annually in hardware, OS, and database licenses, acquisition, and ongoing maintenance costs. The technical upgrade could then be performed afterwards. While MNC Global has the skill-sets in the datacenter to host the new platform, the acquired company has very little SAP Basis knowledge and MNC has only begun to develop its own in-house SAP expertise.

Questions

  1. For each hardware/OS/database platform choice outlined above, list several advantages.

  2. What are the disadvantages or potential challenges for each platform?

  3. In your estimation, is there a clear option or path that MNC Global should choose?

  4. Is there another potentially good alternative that might need to be explored?

  5. What new performance enhancing technology is available to MNC Global when the move is made to a new platform and upgrade is performed?

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