Until recently expenditures on information technology (IT) came chiefly out of IT’s budget. That may change steadily but surely as technology plays a greater role in the conduct of businesses. Technology research organization Gartner has said that by 2015, “more than a third of enterprise IT expenditures will be managed outside the IT department as other units directly source and fund their own software systems.”
Besides the reallocation of the IT budget, yet another key related technology trend that is determining the future of IT, finance, and the entire company is the adoption of cloud services. As businesses transform into so-called digital enterprises in which, for example, employees progressively carry their own smart phones and tablets to the workplace to access business applications and corporate information, companies should be prepared to support multiple devices without compromising security.
Today, de facto every enterprise – from a medium sized local company to a big multinational global player – has to select a powerful ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software in order to run its business processes, applications and data in an efficient way. The choice for the right software solution together with a suitable IT infrastructure can even become a crucial success factor for a company. The enterprise has to face the question how the software solution can efficiently be planned, implemented and operated by its IT organization and service providers.
Many local and global organizations decided to implement SAP software solutions in order to optimize their business processes, applications and data. With software installations in currently more than 140 countries, 60 supported country versions – including Philippines – and 39 translated languages, SAP provides a truly globalized ERP solution for customers all over the world. Customers in Philippines can enjoy all benefits of the broad SAP product portfolio for local business operations and expansion into new markets and countries.
There is a massive trend and pressure in IT for consolidation and optimization of companies’ businesses, applications and IT infrastructure. According to a recently published study in the German computer magazine “Conputerwoche” (http://www.computerwoche.de/software/erp/2526697/) nearly 50 % of medium and large German enterprises run more than 10 ERP systems which enlarges the complexity of their IT infrastructure and causes high operational costs. Detecon Consulting, who conducted this study, states: “This high number of production ERP systems causes a pressure for consolidation in ERP”.
Several SAP customers all over the world have already implemented successful ERP consolidation projects. For example, Marubeni Corporation, a global Japanese enterprise running SAP software, quoted after the completion of a consolidation project: “The system consolidation is regarded as an overall success because it helped us to reduce IT costs and to enhance the management decision-making process.”
In order to plan, implement and operate the selected SAP ERP solution in an efficient way and with a low TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) it is therefore crucial to optimize the required IT infrastructure and data center operations together with the right choice of suitable system architecture. Although the price-performance ratio for hardware is continuously getting better and new trends in IT technology – such as virtualization and cloud computing – let hardware limitations from the past de facto disappear, the determination of the optimal system architecture is very important.
A crucial question is how many SAP systems (hardware) are required in order to run the selected SAP ERP solution efficiently: Does it make sense to implement all required business processes, applications, data, countries and markets on one single SAP system (installation) or is it better to provide different SAP systems according to various criteria, such as one system per business unit, country or business function? There is no so simple answer because the optimal system architecture depends on numerous aspects. For example, the hardware capacity and performance of the selected architecture should be satisfying for the end users. But also organizational and strategic aspects are to be considered, for example, if the enterprise has one central or several independent business units which influence the feasibility of more or less harmonized business processes and data. There are many more aspects and factors to consider, and it is evident that there is a need for a well designed approach and methodology in order to determine the optimal system architecture.
To deal with the important question for the optimal system architecture and the important new trends in IT technology and its integration with the SAP solutions SAP Philippines recently held a two-day workshop at the SAP headquarters in Makati City, titled “Seizing New Opportunities by Understanding the Global SAP Systems Architecture”. Dr. Alexander Davidenkoff, Senior Product Manager at SAP Globalization Services and located at SAP Headquarter was the workshop’s content owner and main speaker.
Attended by SAP program leads, IT managers, enterprise architects, system administrators, head of applications, and business consultants, the workshop was a lively discussion forum on everything about the Global SAP Systems Architecture that has the potential to optimize the It operations and unify businesses in unprecedented ways.
After the detailed discussion and presentation of various SAP system architecture options with their advantages and disadvantages and the demonstration of a well proven “decision matrix” methodology for the determination of the optimal architecture together with real customer cases Dr. Davidenkoff also introduced SAP innovative solutions, new tactics, customer experience, and fresh business opportunities for global systems, performance and operations recommendations for global systems, as well as virtualization and cloud computing aspects for SAP systems.
Dr. Davidenkoff is a SAP veteran from 1992 who started his work in the technology arena with a strong interest in international operations. He pioneered the collaboration with colleagues and customers in Eastern Europe and Russia, and contributed significantly to the progress in globalization and localization of SAP R/3, in particular in the improvement of language support. He moved to international Development/Globalization Services at SAP, where he was responsible for Country Versions project management, as well as for globalization, localization, and translation topics, and he started the co-operation with colleagues, customers and partners in Asian countries. Now he works for SAP Globalization Services as senior product manager and trusted advisor for a broad range of globalization topics including multinational SAP solutions, upgrade and Unicode rollouts, country version support and localization topics, time zones, global integrated solutions using SAP NetWeaver, the architecture of complex system environments, and related topics. He is author of several books and articles about SAP, and he supports, advises, and trains numerous SAP customers, partners and colleagues in many countries. In addition, he is visiting lecturer for Electrical Engineering at DHBW Institute in Karlsruhe (Germany).
The workshop also discussed IT-related trends that are radically changing business needs and expectations; how to dramatically improve growth, globalization, and efficiency of the business through virtualization and a solid cloud infrastructure; the changing roles that cloud computing is bringing to business, IT, and specifically the SAP practice; business opportunities for cloud computing; and prioritizing business goals and mapping these to potential cloud computing solutions.
“As companies evolve into digital enterprises, they expect to pile on more information to their already expanded data warehouses,” said Darren Rushworth, country manager for SAP Philippines and Emerging Markets. “But such data volumes will only be meaningful when these are collected, analyzed, and presented in a timely fashion, which then means fresh investments in software and human capital—and improved allocation of current and future resources.”