New technology runs University financial and business apps

January 12, 2018

The SAP system, which runs Firefly, the University employee portal, achieved a significant milestone on December 11, 2017.  Running on mainframe hardware since 1997, the system was migrated to SAP’s HANA technical environment.  The move is expected to save $200,000 annually in support and licensing, as well as providing faster, more reliable performance.
While the new system looks and functions almost exactly like the previous system, it utilizes a brand-new application technology code base as well as a new database technology.  This new system technology operates entirely in the dual-redundant memory of the processors, translating into improved system performance for processing and reporting across both the SAP transactional system as well as the Business Warehouse system.   Concurrent with this new application version change, the upgrade also included the regular annual system maintenance that is completed each year in preparation for the coming new year of tax law changes and other financial requirements.    
“We began looking at this and planning for this change over three years ago,” said Don Mihulka, assistant vice president for ITS enterprise services. “We knew that moving to the HANA architecture was the direction we needed to go.  Best of all, to the end-user community, it was transparent.  That was the objective. We didn’t want to negatively impact the user experience.”
Replacing the mainframe is a new hardware platform (Intel/VMware technology) that provides a lower cost to purchase, maintain and upgrade in the future, as needed.  In preparation for this change, many underlying system components changed, including new infrastructure software, new online output management and a new scheduling system that runs on this new technology stack, among others.
“Essentially, we’ve lowered our long-term infrastructure costs,” continued Mihulka, “We've improved our performance and are better positioned for future technologies and business solutions.”
This migration project took some 13,000+ hours by personnel in cross-functional teams including; basis, system administration, development, security, infrastructure, production support, functional business team and the campus business community who installed, configured, customized, tested and validated this major effort over the past year.