Best Practices in System Copy: Automate in the Cloud
By Tijl Vuyk
Over the years, I've talked to many hundreds of SAP system administrators and other IT leaders who rely on SAP to support critical business activities. Most of these people know that they must perform system copy frequently. It's required because SAP environments are always being changed and improved upon to adapt to changing business and customer needs. It's also needed to ensure disaster recovery and to facilitate system upgrades.
However, system copy, when performed manually, is a huge user of time, people, and money. The challenge lies in the three-part process: prepare, execute, and follow up. The whole manual process typically involves many people, many steps, and connecting countless pieces between IT and the business sides.
The Costs of Manual System Copy
How expensive is system copy, exactly? A recent study we commissioned conducted by IZEN Marketing found that, based on an average employee's daily working wage (£350 per day), most enterprises lose around $81,000 per year performing system copy manually. The study also found that companies that use more human resources could lose up to $942,000 annually on the process.
Even more interesting is that a full 25 percent of the companies surveyed only run a system copy once every six months. That means that many of these organizations aren't running system copy as often as they should to protect themselves and optimize their systems. Why would they procrastinate like this? I think it's because of the time, effort, and cost involved in their manual system copy process.
When companies rely on a manual system copy, it takes more time and the results are considerably more prone to errors than an automated process would be. The time and errors cost money. They also reduce flexibility. Just keeping up with manual tasks can get in the way of making process improvements and reduce IT capabilities overall.
When companies automate their system copy process -- including as much of the preparation and post-copy operations as possible -- the process becomes faster, simpler, and easier to manage. It also gives IT leaders the time, flexibility, and control to improve every part of the process. Many SAP administrators I've talked to describe the transformation as dramatic and remarkable. For many, system copies that took weeks now take only two days. Processes that required 24-hour monitoring now take only three hours and require far less supervision. Automating the system copy process delivers copied environments faster, establishes repeatable processes for the right results every time, and significantly reduces the cost of the procedure, all while it gives you more control.
How do you get started?
Automate to Improve
To automate your system copy process with the greatest effect on your bottom line, start with the most labor-intensive parts of the process. That means you must consider -- and automate -- the pre- and post-copy phases as a part of the whole process.
Begin by automating the initial backup, cleanup, and export of user profiles. If you automate and connect repeatable steps with logical actions, you can significantly reduce your manual efforts. Use a solution that provides automatic notifications when your attention is needed so that you can monitor progress and address the few issues that may require human intervention without losing time anticipating them.
Next, automate the core copy execution in a way that brings together current and accurate data from throughout your enterprise. For this you'll need to tie together input from numerous platforms and sources and bring it into your SAP environment simply and accurately.
Finally, you'll need to automate the verification and validation processes as well. For this you should be able to perform a database restore, create or import users, and implement your SAP license within your automation process.
Use the Cloud
It's never been easier to automate your system copy. Just as cloud implementations have proven to be scalable, powerful, and cost-effective ways to reduce IT costs for collaboration and general productivity, the cloud can also be used to automate and connect IT and business processes. System copy is one process where this approach works very well.
With cloud-based system copy automation, you don't have to install new hardware or software. Wherever you have connected servers, you can start automating. With the right approach, you can connect everything together -- or just everything you need connected -- quickly and at the right price. I've seen myself how automation saves time and money while providing accuracy and consistency throughout.
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Tijl Vuyk has more than 24 years of experience making IT and business processes support a measurable and practical success. He founded Redwood Software in 1993 and as the chief executive officer, Tijl sets the company's vision and worldwide business strategy. Under his stewardship, Redwood has shown strong growth as a provider of enterprise business and IT process automation.