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Roundtable: Creating value amidst an evolving landscape

Rosalind See | Sept. 27, 2012
Corporate enterprises are tapping on flexibility, speed and simplicity to spark changes.

Acknowledging the impact of cloud computing, Greg Pike, Senior Vice President, Global Communications Active Global Support, SAP AG noted the investment enterprises had made in on-premise solutions and infrastructure. Whilst cloud had its benefits, enterprises had to strike a balance as they sought to maximise existing investments.

"The upgrading of systems improves the speed and performance of existing investments allowing organisations to stretch out the utilisation of these investments for a few more years," he said. "The upgrade is also a step towards achieving new functionalities and is an entry point to accessing cloud-based solutions."

Juergen Reinhardt, Vice President, Head of Active Global Support South East Asia and Mission Critical Support Asia, SAP Asia Pacific Japan, added that SAP's enhanced tools -- based on SAP's assessment and feedback from its wide customer base -- would help clients to better manage problems which may arise. SAP had earlier announced that it would extend its mainstream maintenance for core SAP Business Suite 7 applications through to December 2020, giving its customers long-term predictability and removing the burden of upgrades across the enterprise for several years.

Chua Jiun Yih, IT Operations Manager, Sarawak Energy agreed that it was easier to incorporate other programmes into the system after an upgrade. "These programmes helped in reducing complexity whilst allowing for customisation," he said.

"Every single enterprise is different, and reflects the complexity of the business even within the same industry," said Pike. "Some degree of customisation is required to enhance SAP's standard tools and best practices packages."

Another client concern on upgrades was its effect on existing operations. There was a need to ensure that any upgrade would be carried out successfully and would not disrupt operations. Even five minutes of downtime could cost enterprises millions of dollars.

"Enterprises cannot afford to have any downtime," said Angeline Chong Lee Yin, Assistant Vice President, Enterprise Applications, Corporate Services Division, Malakoff Corporation. "System stability is crucial especially when any upgrades are carried out or new applications added."

For Malakoff, an Independent Power Producer (IPP), it was also vital that upgrades met the energy industry regulations as well as Malakoff's own business requirements. Thus, any upgrading exercise had to be carefully carried out.

In response, Hans-Juergen Mikudim, Director Support, Active Global Support, SAP Malaysia and Pakistan, pointed to SAP's ability to carry out upgrades at near-zero downtime. "Upgrades are tailored to the requirements of clients. Some opt to do the upgrade over a weekend, others chose the near-zero downtime option. We work closely with clients to ensure that there is minimal disruption to operations."

Mazlan Tuhiman, Business Solution Manager, Fraser & Neave Holdings, believed that preparation was the key to a successful upgrade and smooth implementation. He added, "It is also an opportunity to streamline business processes. This involves close collaboration between IT and the business units to work out how to derive the optimal benefit from the upgrade whilst maintaining the stability of the system."


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