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Expertum is a leading European SAP consulting company and official SAP Gold VAR partner operating primarily in Europe. In this guest blog, Bert Vanstechelman, Principal Technical Consultant at Expertum, discusses his experience with and the benefits of Pure’s unique Copy Automation Tool (CAT) for SAP which streamlines SAP System Copy and is included at no additional charge with every Pure Storage FlashArray.
Copying an SAP system is typically both manually and labor intensive. It often requires the expertise and involvement of multiple technical teams. A single system copy of the production system to the quality assurance environment, can take several days. Coordinated system copies across the SAP landscape can take up to a month. And the business impacts are real – ongoing strategic projects are affected as resources have to be diverted to assist with the copy. Furthermore, target systems are unavailable while they are being refreshed. Because of the risk involved due to the quantity of manual tasks, the entire system copy process is tedious and error prone.
Even with this hassle, SAP users still perform copies of SAP systems primarily to:
And that’s just a few of the reasons. Most organizations regularly perform SAP system copies several times a year. These copies are generally quite challenging and require a high degree of synchronized administration. For example, in large environments where cross-system processes must be tested, all interconnected systems need to be copied at the same time. This increases the overall workload and complexity of the task.
Over time, various methods have been utilized for physically copying SAP systems: database backup and restore, export and import using SAP tools, or sophisticated solutions based on the storage infrastructure, such as snapshots and cloning. After the physical copy is complete, the system can only be opened back to users after completing a long list of system-specific post-processing actions.
All this makes SAP system copies a necessary but mostly unpleasant chore. And most SAP administrators would choose to perform more copies, but are restricted by complexity, scope and repetition:
What if there were a better way?
What if you could reduce the complexity and time spent for SAP system copy?
What would it mean to your business to be able to copy an SAP system in minutes rather than hours or even days? CAT for SAP makes it possible!
CAT for SAP automates the system copy process and greatly reduces the need for manual intervention. It handles all the major steps of the copy process:
So, that solves for complexity, but what about duration of tasks? Many customers are already using storage array capabilities to reduce the time of the system copy. They often combine this with third-party tools. However, these tools require maintenance and add yet more complexity combined with expensive licensing.
CAT for SAP is built into FlashArray’s container platform, Purity//Run. The Pure Storage FlashArray comes with incredible snapshot capabilities allowing the SAP system to be copied in milliseconds and without impact to the production system. CAT for SAP is embedded in the array and is free of charge. Users can simply take advantage of this tool by invoking the GUI, defining the source and target, and running the process fully automated.
A system copy consists of a sequence of CAT for SAP runs, with each run handling one part of the overall work.
In a typical refresh scenario, the different steps in a system copy would be (Figure 1 below):
Each of these steps that corresponds to a single execution of CAT for SAP, is known as a context. A context is made up of a series of actions. Both the contexts and the actions they contain are freely configurable: as long as the procedure remains consistent you are free to add, rename, merge, split, or remove contexts. Within a context you can add or delete actions, change their sequence, and make them optional or mandatory. The context principle, allows you to add your own system copy tasks, such as preserving and re-loading of customer tables, or saving and customizing settings across the system copy.
CAT for SAP handles all major steps of the copy process. It is highly flexible and customizable as it treats the system copy process as a “flow” of actions, where steps can be freely added, removed or modified. This makes CAT for SAP adaptable to every kind of SAP environment.
The following is a partial list of steps that have been automated by CAT for SAP – and Pure Storage plans to add more in the future:
A common problem when refreshing the quality assurance of a pre-production system is that the refreshed system “goes back in time” because changes and customizations brought into the quality system (but not yet into production) have been lost and need to be reimported. This critical issue is often handled in a messy and unreliable way, such as combining input from developers and customizers into spreadsheets, which then serve to reconstruct, with varying degrees of success, the list of changes to import into the refreshed quality system. CAT for SAP handles the transport delta problem elegantly and transparently by relying on the information in the SAP transport system (see figure 2), the one and only authoritative source of change history.
SAP system copy, clone, and refresh tasks don’t have to take days and drain valuable resources. Users can save both time and money with Pure’s fully integrated end-to-end CAT for SAP capabilities. Pure Storage CAT for SAP is currently supported for physical and virtual environments running traditional SAP systems using Oracle® or Microsoft® SQL Server® databases and SAP HANA workloads. Additional workloads are being developed all the time. For more information, go to https://www.purestorage.com/solutions/applications/sap-cat.html.
Bert Vanstechelman is partner of and principal technical consultant at Expertum. He has more than 20 years of experience in SAP Basis consulting, covering all kinds of SAP versions in combination with all possible databases and operating systems supported by SAP. Bert specializes in platform migrations, SAP release upgrades and Unicode conversions. Bert is the founder of Logos Consulting, now part of Expertum.
Bert is a member of the board of advisors of the SAP Professional Journal. He is also the co-author, with Mark Mergaerts, of the following SAP PRESS books: Upgrading SAP, SAP NetWeaver Application Server Upgrade Guide, The OS/DB Migration Project Guide and the mySAP ERP Upgrade Project Guide and the following SAP Espresso Tutorials, The SAP HANA Deployment Guide and Securing S/4HANA (coming soon). He can be reached at email@example.com