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Archive for the ‘IT Housekeeping’ Category

“What a question. Certainly not!” you might burst out spontaneously. But at closer sight, this question is not bizarre at all. Because any IT professional who is willing to look beyond the edge of his plate will easily agree with Stephanie Balaouras, from Forrester Blog, that there are at least some implications of a spreading disease for IT operations: “What swine flu has done is reminded us all of the necessity to plan for threat scenarios that affect people more than Swine Flu Virusthey do data centers and other physical corporate facilities … You also have to think about your own employees: how will you run IT operations if key employees are out sick or can’t get to work? There’s a lot you can do remotely, but not everything. You have to ask yourself: how many employees have we cross-trained for other job functions? Can your storage administrators run backups? Could your server admins allocate storage or debug a storage network problem? Cross-training in critical functions is another part of workforce recovery or, I should say, workforce continuity.”

You still think of the blog title as weird? Maybe you should just use this opportunity to dust off your business continuity plan, or to automate some Housekeeping routines, which are both tiresome and business critical to your enterprise. It makes sense, even if the swine flu passes gentle the door of your data center.

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Production systems are business critical. No wonder, that change management has to comply with certain regulations in order to maintain availability, to meet SLAs, and to transfer results from the “sandbox” to the reality of IT.

In case of SAP it is strongly recommended “that you perform a system copy if you are planning to set up a test system, demo system, or training system. You must also perform a system copy if you want to change your operating system or your database.” Because no one in charge of SAP who takes his or her responsibilities seriously, would ever test a new software tool or a new hardware component within an active production environment—systems with three or more levels are common and system copies therefore a matter of routine today.

Well, if SAP Systemcopy just meant to clone an existing SAP system we wouldn’t talk about it. But to copy a system for backup reasons is one thing, and to system copy a running SAP production environment is another. Actually it’s not even the System Copy itself. It’s more the subsequent configuration changes and the adaption of references, indices, and allocations – pointing in the ‘wrong’ direction – that really sucks. Because this part is manually initiated and sequentially done, and therefore really affects the productivity of your IT department.

Even the baseline checklist of the system copy post actions by Omer Brandis gives you a glance of the related automation challenges. Consider that most versions of a “SAP System Copy” manual run to more than 50 small-printed pages. The good news is, that UC4 customers can automate 60 percent of this workflow and reduce System Copy time from 3 to 5 days to less than a day. And this by using the existing resources.

Find more details in the SAP System Copy Whitepaper

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Data centers are dynamic units. They have the tendency to grow over the years and continually change. Without detailed and prompt documentation of all systems and processes, the IT department turns into a kind of black box or dark room in the enterprise building, which nobody dares to enter.

IT housekeeping

That can be lived with as long as the whole system runs without any failure. If there are problems you have to open this door and – more complicated – touch some of the application parts. But how can this be done if it´s not even clear, what the mutual dependencies between the processes are and how they can be identified and displayed?

If you talk about automation you have to talk precisely about these interdependencies. They are, for instance, responsible for the fact that a backup solution can start only after a database operation is concluded, or a billing sequence requires the data from a database synchronisation, or a crashed server has to be rebooted, or a monthly balance depends on a dynamic allocation of the maximum computing power.

In reality, there can be very diverse triggers initiating a process – dates, events, message queues, file availability, database triggers, treshold values, resource availability, and more. The good news is that implementing the UC4 Workload Automation Suite frees you from having to touch the legacy systems. Instead of you focus on the dependencies. As long as you understand them, everything runs smoothly.

By the way: a Whitepaper about IT Housekeeping is now available. Check it out!

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