MIT plans to move to a new release of SAP in November 1999 to take advantage of technical improvements in the software. However, this upgrade will not represent major changes for users.
A benefit of the upgrade is that it will position MIT to ultimately move many of the GUI (graphical user interface) functions out to the web.
People who use the SAP GUI will see some minor changes in the new release, but there won't be any differences for those who do their work in SAPweb.
Training for the upgrade will be optional because differences to end users between the current and the new release are minor, such as toolbar navigational buttons, match codes and the simplification of some screens.
In MIT's current 3.0 release of SAP, the GUI is almost identical for both Mac and PC users. In the 4.5 release, the screens will be different on the two platforms.
Beginning the week of September 20 (and continuing through early November), there will be 11 demonstrations in Wong Auditorium to show users the differences between the current and new releases of SAP. These demos will help users decide whether they need to sign up for training. The demos will be platform-specific.
The September demo sessions are as follows:
- ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½September 20 at 2pm -- PC platform
- September 23 at 10am -- Macintosh platform
- ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½September 30 at 10am -- PC platform
(October and November dates will be listed in future issues of MIT Tech Talk and provided to GUI users.)
Because SAP utilizes "client/server" technology, some of the SAP software resides on the user's computer (the "client" portion of SAP, called the GUI) and the rest of SAP resides on large "server" computers. To run release 4.5, both the client and the server software will need to be upgraded.
SUPPORT TO USERS
The School and Area Coordinators, who work with SAP users throughout MIT, will spend even more time than usual assisting community members. The Business Liaison Team also will provide help as people install the new GUI and begin to work with release 4.5 of SAP.
Hands-on training for those who wish it is scheduled to begin the week of October 18 and will continue through December, if needed. The courses are self-paced tutorials, and users can either do the training exercises at the Learning Center (with an instructor present) or in their own offices. The exercises will be available on the web and as printed documents distributed at the demos.
TIMING OF THE UPGRADE
By the end of September, the release 4.5 "client" GUI (for users) will be available on the network at http://web.mit.edu/sapr3 . This GUI is "backward compatible," so it will work with the 3.0 release of SAP that MIT is currently running. This means that users can install release 4.5 on their desktop and begin using it well before MIT upgrades the "server" software in November.
In order to complete the upgrade, the SAP environment will need to be shut down temporarily. The target date for beginning the server upgrade (and shutting down SAP) is approximately 1am on Thursday, Nov. 11. The Institute will be closed that day for Veterans' Day. The upgrade work will continue on Thursday and Friday and over the weekend. It is expected that the SAP environment will be available again for users sometime on Monday, Nov. 15.
During the server upgrade when the SAP environment is unavailable, users can continue to access information in the Data Warehouse, which will be current through the last posting of data on Wednesday, Nov. 10. The MIT credit card will provide a viable purchasing option during the server upgrade.
The Administrative Systems and Policies Coordinating Council, chaired by Executive Vice President John R. Curry, approved the upgrade recommendation made by Financial Systems Services. Staff members in central offices have carefully reviewed SAP release 4.5 to determine when MIT should make this upgrade. In addition, they have done extensive testing of the software and will continue to do so as the target date approaches.
A version of this article appeared in the September 15, 1999 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 44, Number 5).