Today, 24/7 all-time availability of IT services is the expectation in your private life as well as in your professional environment. With increasing digitization and growing networks across businesses, industries and continents, the cost related to IT system downtime is constantly on the rise.
The impact of a system outage, whether planned or unplanned, can quickly get out of control with negative consequences on business operations. In many cases companies allow for only very limited system downtime of a few hours for maintenance activities or transformation projects.
"More than 75% of transformation projects do not allow downtime longer than a weekend due to significant impact on business operations." This is well documented in our latest Natuvion Transformation Study 2022.
Companies are concerned that downtime can heavily disrupt business operations. This is often the reason for demonstrated reluctance to not move forward with transformation projects. To address these concerns, solutions are available that offer ways to minimize the downtime. In the context of SAP system transformation, SAP itself introduced the so-called Near Zero Downtime Migration.
Near Zero Downtime (NZDT) represents a methodology to reduce downtime during a data or system transformation. In general, the goal is to achieve the highest possible system availability during the entire transformation, minimizing downtime as much as possible. In close collaboration with the business, a time window is determined in which an interruption of business activities can be agreed upon while having the least impact on operations of critical productive systems. The specific time window may differ for each individual system.
This methodology can be applied to any transformation project. It is independent from infrastructure, whether on-premise, cloud, or hybrid systems.
The amount of data is an important factor in transformation projects. The NZDT approach offers advantages particularly with large data volumes such as Big Data transformations or database switches. However, the methodology can be used in any other migration project.
Least impact on
Time savings through
Measurable benefits in
Regardless of the system transformation category, such as a move to SAP S/4HANA, a consolidation, harmonization, or a carve-out, you typically cannot avoid any temporary unavailability of your productive systems during the implementation.
The transfer of data and applications from an ERP system technically requires halting the affected business processes. With ERP systems being at the heart of a company, any downtime is a very costly phase. Project planning must pay extra attention to any risk associated with the planned downtime and prioritize accordingly. Remember: downtime is a critical factor for your project success!
The NZDT approach ensures that very few tasks fall into the downtime window, helping the project team to focus even more on results, quality, and specific customer requests. The team can respond to a change in requirements with more flexibility and any errors can be rectified without pressure. In addition, more time can be spent in testing the new productive environment which means raising the quality level.
Delivering a system transformation project with high quality positively contributes to organizational change management, improving internal perception, and ensuring continued support.
1. Initial Downtime
The basic idea of NZDT is to perform as many activities as possible outside of the downtime window. With this goal in mind, a copy of the production system is created before any changes to system or data are being allowed. At this point in time, the copy freezes the database and forms the basis for the transformation or migration implementation.
From then on, any changes to productive data during the transformation are being recorded, leveraging tools that have been installed when taking the system copy. This step of copying the system and activating tools requires an initial short downtime of the productive system.
Following the first initial downtime, the user can work with the productive system as usual. During this uptime, the transformation team sets up the new SAP system on the data previously copied. Next, data is being transferred following the migration strategy, processes are defined, and the new system is then validated and tested. After the preparation work of the target system has concluded, all recorded data changes from the productive system are imported into the new system.
3. Final Downtime
After most of the changes have been reapplied, the next phase includes the second and final downtime. In this step, which corresponds to the typical go-live downtime, only those activities are carried out that could not be prepared based on the copied database. The production system is shut down, the last changes that had been logged are transferred, and remaining implementation work is performed. Now is the time for final checks and preparation for go-live. Finally, the new system is activated for business.
The NZDT methodology manages the sequence of activities as it also spreads those across the transformation process. With its proprietary solution Natuvion DCS, Natuvion supports, complements, and executes NZDT activities. This specialty tool takes NZDT to another level with a particular focus on customer requirements. The software automates certain tasks during downtime, ultimately reducing the time systems are unavailable. Automation not only accelerates the project timeline, but also eliminates errors caused by manual work and thus increases quality. In addition, the tool frees up capacity and resources can now turn to more complex, problem-solving activities.
Would you like to learn more about the Near Zero Downtime method? Simply fill out the contact form and we will get in touch with you as soon as possible.