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Delphix + Automic: Rewriting the Rules of SAP Refresh

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All companies need to innovate faster. But in the race towards transformation, businesses can only move as quickly as their slowest IT systems.

All companies need to innovate faster. But in the race towards transformation, businesses can only move as quickly as their slowest IT systems. For some, that system is SAP, the software suite that orchestrates back-office processes, customer-facing operations, and everything in between. Because of its extreme complexity and importance to ongoing business operations, SAP is frequently a gating factor in innovation.

The SAP data bottleneck

When enterprises need to bring new SAP functionality to market, managing data can be one of their most significant challenges. Application development teams need access to high-quality test data but it's difficult to get. SAP datasets are large and cumbersome, with rigid processes governing their movement from system to system. It can take administrative teams tremendous effort to provision and maintain SAP data environments, and without environments development teams can't deliver new features to the business.

Solving the SAP data problem, then, promises to yield huge benefits. Even incremental improvements to SAP data management translates into reduced project schedules and improved system uptime– results that go a long way in helping companies deliver on their most strategic initiatives.

SAP landscapes: So fresh and so clean?

Delphix is confronting the SAP data problem head on, radically changing the way that enterprises manage SAP data. Delphix gives administrators the ability to quickly deliver and use space-efficient, virtual copies of databases underlying SAP apps. Meanwhile, end users such as developers, testers, and business analysts can manipulate those copies through a suite of self-service tools. These features enable enterprises such as Clorox, HP, and NASA to complete SAP projects dramatically faster, while using far less infrastructure.

Adding to these capabilities is a new, joint solution from Delphix and Automic Software that addresses the challenges companies face when refreshing SAP systems. Teams have long relied on system refresh–updating non-production environments with data from a more current source–as a means of maintaining landscapes with data accurately reflecting the state of the business. Doing so translates into higher quality development, testing, and training.

Once an SAP development environment is provisioned–a process that typically takes days if not weeks–ongoing development activity steadily degrades test data quality until it needs to be updated from another source. Unfortunately, this refresh process requires significant manual effort and introduces system downtime that impacts developer and tester productivity. So while organizations universally acknowledge the benefits of maintaining landscapes with pristine SAP data, many only refresh on a quarterly or annual basis to avoid the disruption. In fact, it's not unusual to find established businesses using environments that have never been refreshed.

Maintaining pristine SAP environments

Delphix and Automic change this dynamic by collapsing the time and effort it takes to execute a complete system refresh. Delphix makes delivering fresh data into an environment fast and easy. With a virtual data approach, large, multi-TB SAP databases can be automatically refreshed from a production or a gold copy dev environment in a fraction of the traditional DB refresh time. Delphix provides a fresh copy in minutes. Meanwhile, Automic automates the pre-refresh and post-refresh configuration steps that occur with each refresh action, eliminating extensive manual work and ensuring accuracy.

Complementing fast refresh is a unique "reset" capability from Delphix that further allows SAP teams to uphold data quality. Teams performing testing can bookmark a virtual data copy to establish a baseline state for repeated destructive test runs. After executing tests that alter the state of the underlying virtual database, testers can reset the virtual data copy back to the bookmarked state, a process that takes just minutes. Executing frequent test runs against consistent, high-quality data means more reliable test outcomes, quicker test cycles, and even the potential to reduce the number of refreshes required.

Eliminating the speed-quality dilemma

Fast refresh and reset have significant implications for SAP customers who face a speed-quality dilemma. Today, many businesses execute refreshes to realize the benefits of high-quality data, but then must pay the price of lower dev/test velocity. Or, they allow environments to go stale and risk deploying releases with data-related defects. Both approaches have downsides that are too large.

But by giving teams the ability to refresh and reset environments through a fast, push-button process, Delphix allows application teams to get high-quality data without sacrificing project speed. Teams relying on a combination of automated refreshes and fast resets can actually improve development velocity, while also reducing the risk of production failures caused by data-related defects.

Case Study: Refresh time reduced from two weeks to two hours

One of the largest manufacturers in the world leverages the Delphix and Automic joint solution to accelerate critical SAP releases. This company had struggled with lengthy refreshes that took over two weeks to complete on average. Slow refresh times threatened time-to-market, and also had a direct impact on software quality–the company had conclusively traced production system downtime to stale test data that, in some cases, had not been refreshed in years.

Recognizing the need to improve SAP refresh, the company implemented a new solution based on Delphix and Automic. Fast, virtual data from Delphix coupled with end-to-end orchestration from Automic allowed the manufacturer to shrink refresh time to two hours. Moreover, the ease with which the joint solution operates is allowing the company to shift to an unlimited use, self-service model for SAP refresh. The company believes the Delphix and Automic solution will pave the way for higher user satisfaction and, ultimately, greater competitiveness.

Join this upcoming webinar to learn how Delphix and Automic are improving agility and test data quality for SAP customers.