The processes in its SAP systems were more than 15 years old and no longer suitable to provide appropriate support for the business. Andy Van Inwegen, project manager at Microsoft, points out: "Our processes were designed to provide security and were just not fast enough anymore." Software and hardware components inevitably reached their limits.
Seeing this, Microsoft decided to change the face of its SAP landscape. Previously, Microsoft had run all of its SAP processes in a 4-system landscape that consisted of development, quality assurance, test and production systems. Any changes, functional enhancements, testing, and troubleshooting were performed within these systems. This meant many unscheduled software development projects that had to be completed against tight deadlines. The result were constant delays, overtakers, and incomplete releases. As such, the risk of error was very high. This made IT too slow to achieve the business´ needs.
The days when the implementation of a change and process management tool in SAP landscapes took many months or even years to complete are over. Microsoft is among those who are now taking advantage of this. It took the software giant no time at all to implement REALTECH's modular theGuard! SmartChange solution, which now makes it so much easier for its employees to plan, implement, and manage changes and functional enhancements in the company's SAP environment. Even the synchronization of parallel development systems is now much easier.
Microsoft turned to REALTECH and its modular software solution theGuard! SmartChange for help. One of its modules, Synchronization Management, was implemented to automate the synchronization between the company's parallel development systems; synchronization from DEV 1 to DEV 2 is done almost daily and a three-month interval was established for the other way around. The SAP ERP landscape alone sees up to 1,000 changes or change requests each quarter.
The Synchronization Management module reliably analyzes all workbench and customizing objects that leave the test system of the maintenance landscape when a transport request is released and exported. It classifies them as either "non-critical" or "critical", depending on whether they can be easily synchronized from the maintenance landscape to the release landscape by means of a transport or whether they require manual synchronization from within the release landscape. Microsoft is now able to combine all non-critical objects in a single request and to automatically synchronize them. Objects that require manual intervention are made available in delta views to speed up their synchronization. The ability to quickly dive into line by line code comparison between DEV1 and DEV2 is what appealed to Microsoft.
This has enabled Microsoft to conveniently and securely run both development systems and, most importantly, to do so in parallel. At the same time, its maintenance operations with its urgent corrections are no longer tied to the long-term development associated with new releases. Developers, for example, can now work on a new release without jeopardizing the availability of SAP production systems. Errors that were fixed in maintenance will no longer find their way back into the production systems once a new release is rolled out. "Automation has allowed us to synchronize 95 % of our maintenance items into our project landscape," says Van Inwegen.
Microsoft restructured its SAP landscapes to respond to a changing market and overhauled its 15-year-old SAP processes. It only took a few months to implement the modules of REALTECH's theGuard! SmartChange that enabled Microsoft to automate its SAP change and transport management and to ensure consistent and seamless processes across the enterprise.