SAP S/4HANA System Conversion: Comparable to Business Downtime of an EhP Upgrade?

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SAP S/4HANA System Conversion: Comparable to Business Downtime of an EhP Upgrade?

Sergio Ferrari | May 27, 2019

Recently we sat down with Luca Grilli to discuss how to Reduce Business Downtime with Robotic Process Automation (RPA), in this interview - we will continue on the same hot-topic of Business Downtime - which is where we find most people have concern.

In our real-life experiences of brownfield System Conversions to SAP S/4HANA the technical conversion run took around a week-end. In some circumstances we opted for the “resource-minimized” strategy and in others for the “downtime-minimized” one.

We did not yet got the chance to take advantage of the “near-Zero Downtime” strategy, please refer to OSS note 693168 - Minimized Downtime Service (MDS).

During the Business Downtime, end-users cannot count onto their ERP core system, background processes are suspended as well as Integration Flows. Sales, Warehouse and Production operations suffer even more than Financial and Procurement.

Limiting the Business Downtime within a week-end becomes thus one of the main goals of the conversion project.

In this interview, we will meet with Andrea Taccolini to compare EhP upgrade driven  Business Downtimes with those of the conversion project and discuss the root causes of Business Downtime.

Hi Andrea, you know the drill - tell us about yourself!

Well, I am a passionate SAP Basis Consultant since around 20 years. I like to be a pioneer of new technologies, but am pretty partial to the SAP Business Suite - my forté, if you will. I have been an early adopter of SAP HANA database technology on SAP BW systems and also on SAP S/4HANA systems.

Could you compared the Business Downtime we are used to when upgrading to a new EhP with the one related to the SAP S/4HANA System Conversion?

Of course. I have analyzed the System Conversion technical logs several times by now! From the pure technical run, the downtime is absolutely comparable. The shadow instance, the workbench setup are similar to an EhP. The differences arrive with the database migration to HANA and the population of new tables (e.g. the famous ACDOCA). Elapsed time here is proportional to the number of records and to the infrastructure power. Parallelism is well supported and the number of CPUs is crucial.

Working with the Global S/4HANA LaunchPad Team in Techedge, we were able to solve this slow duty thanks to the application of Robotic Process Automation of FI Data Reconciliation.

What do you think impacts Business Downtime more than expected?

Business downtime during a S4 system conversion can be summarized into two main moments.

When SUM enters in the  phase “Execution”. Here the SAP system is closed and SUM starts migration jobs.

In our last experience , on a “on-premise” infrastructure,  we converted a 1.7TB system using 75 parallel jobs in around 20 hours. We worked hard to optimize the number of jobs within the hardware capacity

The SAP HANA database runs on a machine with 64vCPU and 950 GB of RAM

The second relevant moment is when the “FI Data Migration” starts. Technically we are already in SAP S/4HANA but the population of new tables (e.g. ACDOCA,ect) has to be completed before releasing the system to end-user.

We work together with the functional team to find out the best workload distribution  (# of SAP background jobs) on the dedicated SAP Application Servers.

In our last experience, the “FI Data Migration” successfully terminated in less than 10 hours with 2 Application Servers running on a 24vCPU and 32 GB RAM (each one).

…and was that less time than expected?

I can say that we don’t have “big differences” with heterogeneous system migrations compared to upgrades done in the past , i.e. SAP re-platform (change hardware and database)  and EhP upgrades.

Last question, do you have any specific proposition to limit Business Downtime?

Yes, sure. We have established great partnerships with the main Hyperscale Cloud Providers, and we have specific infrastructure configuration well-tuned exactly for this task. With a sustainable cost we can provide huge power in certain phases and then change the configuration when the conversion is completed. Obviously this advantage is available only if the customer is moving to the Public Cloud, where unimaginable power is available.

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