Users are starting to revolt against the 18-month upgrade cycle of most enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications, complaining of high costs of migration and excessive downtime.
Erik Keller, Gartner Group?s vice president and research fellow for application integration, explained at the company's fifth annual Enterprise Systems conference in Chicago this week: ?Users find they need to re-implement based on the way their systems are configured and implemented, or else they experience loads of downtime. We?re beginning to see a backlash against the upgrade cycle based on cost and downtime and users are probably not going to fly with the 18-month upgrade cycle any more.?
He added that one company had been told by SAP that it would have to shut down for between seven and 10 days while it upgraded its software because it had no back-up procedures and had to rebuild its system to move to the new version.
?It?s a bit of everyone?s fault. The user was interested in a rapid implementation, the systems integrator didn?t think anything else was needed and it was beyond its budget, and SAP is interested in selling solutions in a competitive environment, not in telling users to think about these other things too. It?s like I wouldn?t give a chainsaw to a six-year old because it might hurt itself,? Keller said.
To make matters worse, none of the ERP vendors supply relevant tools to manage the underlying infrastructure, which means users need to invest in applications, systems and network management tools if they want to ensure decent levels of uptime - a task that is problematic in itself.
Donna Scott, Gartner?s research director of application integration, explained: ?In client/server, you can?t buy one set of management tools that will cater to all your needs. You?ll probably need five or six vendors and it?s best to get the operations people involved early to ensure you get the budget."
She went on: "There are a lot of tools out there, but 80 per cent of downtime is not to do with hardware and software. It?s to do with the applications and operator errors. As a result, users' main investment should be in change management tools to increase their uptime.?
Users should also bear in mind that despite the benchmarks, SAP only supported between 1,800 and 2,000 concurrent users and it was ?the best of the bunch?, while on average, installing an ERP system cost between $20-70,000 per user, Keller concluded.
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