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SAP ECC ERP move to HANA speeds transactions at medical device maker

Varian Medical Systems Inc.'s global footprint of complex and closely integrated customized applications was making its SAP infrastructure slow and unwieldy. The $3 billion maker of oncology systems uses its IT systems heavily for such critical processes as product development and production planning.

The solution? Replace the underlying Oracle database with an SAP HANA in-memory database to boost transaction speeds on the company's SAP ECC ERP system. And it worked, according to Snehashish Sarkar, Varian's director of enterprisewide engineering applications.

Both customers and internal users had complained about processing times, Sarkar said in this video interview from the 2014 SAP SapphireNow conference in Orlando, Fla. "Every time a business user is doing a transaction, because of the integration, it just drags on -- the performance of the system is slow," he said of the Oracle-based implementation. "This HANA database is going to allow us to improve … transaction processing. It's a complete database swap. We moved all applications which [were] on ECC running on Oracle Database."

Varian, which is based in Palo Alto, Calif., chose systems integrator KPIT Technologies to help with the hardware and licensing issues and because of its experience with HANA migrations.

One of the biggest challenges in the seven-month project was figuring out what to do about the previous system's custom coding. "To address business problems, we have customized some of the code," Sarkar said. "When you try to migrate some of these things, we have the ownership as a customer of actually making sure the custom code gets migrated correctly." Good project scoping and early identification of potential problems made the process go smoothly, he added.

Sarkar advises anyone considering moving their SAP ECC ERP system to HANA to make sure the scope of the project is clear and to understand that extensive testing will be required. By sticking to its guns, Varian kept the project on time and under budget, he said.

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