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By David Greenland, Technical Analyst, SAP & Michael Kercsmar, Project Manager, SAP

In November, 2013, the massive SAP Corporate Portal got a significant upgrade, with new functionality, new flexibility, and new versions of some of its most popular business applications. As part of the “SAP Runs SAP” effort, our experience in planning and implementing the upgrade offers some valuable lessons for any organization that wants to improve its all-important interface to employees and business partners.

Seizing an Opportunity

The project began in March, 2013, when our team was instructed to move to the latest version of SAP NetWeaver, 7.31. As we planned our strategy, we decided that we should also take the opportunity to move from our existing virtual-machine environment to a high-efficiency computing platform known as HEC IS Open Infrastructure Innovation Platform, which includes Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS).

We’re very glad we did, because that change has dramatically improved the turnaround time for ongoing updates and supporting future functionality. Under our old methodology, implementing a new application server took at least a week. But now, it can be done in as little as two hours, with greater control over basic infrastructure requirements. When someone needs a new application server, we simply go the code repository, add in the machine details, and our servers are ready to be deployed. Imagine the time savings – and the increased productivity of not having to wait for new servers.

Strengthening NetWeaver

During our project, we did find some problems with the SAP NetWeaver upgrade process, as well as errors in some component areas. By working with our colleagues in SAP Active Global Support and SAP Development, we were able to eliminate the problems and greatly improve the upgrade process. For example, the technical installations that once took around 96 hours to complete can now be made in about 34 hours. As a result, upgrades can be completed during a weekend with little or no impact on normal operations.

Additional Browser Support

Another priority for our project was support for the most popular browsers. Today,we’re pleased to support all SAP-approved browsers, including:

  • Internet Explorer 7, 8, 9 & 10
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Google Chrome
  • Apple Safari

In addition, the portal may now be accessed easily via the Apple iPad.

New Mobility Scenarios

With an increasingly mobile workforce, SAP needs to provide access via mobile devices. And now, through the latest version of SAP NetWeaver, we can quickly develop mobile scenarios for accessing Corporate Portal content and pages. There are currently 20 scenarios to choose from, with more under development.

No Learning Curve

As of November 2, our SAP colleagues around the world began seeing increased system speed and performance, thanks to the improved stability of SAP NetWeaver 7.31. In addition, they discovered upgraded business packages, featuring the latest functionality for supplier relationship management, human capital management, and eRecruiting, among others. And yet, there is virtually no learning curve, since these enhancements are straightforward and intuitive.

A Global Team

The portal upgrade was the result of global teamwork that included our Business Innovation & Applications Services team, Kapa Nagendra Kumar and Kratika Bansal from the Cloud Infrastructure Delivery BSS team, and several other groups within SAP. More than 40 people were involved, from our offices in the U.S., Germany, India, Russia, Belarus, Israel, Mexico, and elsewhere. We are grateful for the hard work and close cooperation of our colleagues around the world.

More to Come

Over the next several months, we will continue to upgrade our portal’s capabilities. We expect to move to a next-generation platform sometime in 2014 – a move made easier by the stable new foundation of SAP NetWeaver 7.31. We also plan to keep enhancing our tablet capabilities to provide a richer experience to iPad users – and access for users of Android and Windows tablets.

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