CSX used its Oracle E-Business Suite and Oracle’s PeopleSoft Enterprise upgrade project as an opportunity to consolidate and modernize the underlying infrastructure. This included virtualizing the servers that would run the new PeopleSoft software, and the benefits of virtualization appeared early in the modernization process. A fleet of virtual servers meant that CSX could quickly set up and reallocate test bed servers and storage resources to run scores of test scripts.
“We felt there could never be too much testing. We ran dry run after dry run—testing, fixing, and retesting,” says Tony Papa, director of applications development at CSX. When a module passed its tests, the IT teams ran the scripts once more to get their timing down for the weekend when the actual upgrade occurred. “This was crucial so that everybody knew what tasks had to be run before, during, and after the upgrade,” he adds.
CSX had the help of Oracle partner CedarCrestone, an IT systems-integration company that had been supporting the rail company’s PeopleSoft operations for more than a year before the upgrade. That role expanded in 2010 and played an important part in CSX’s housekeeping efforts. CedarCrestone analysts performed a full review of CSX’s human resources systems and integration points, including the wide array of proprietary mainframe and third-party applications. Consultants then developed a plan for updating or replacing outdated or unnecessary systems, hardware, and applications. It also created a strategy for addressing a particularly nettlesome holdover, Structured Query Reporter (SQR), a venerable coding language used for processing complex SQL logic and batch files.
CSX maintained a large volume of SQRs—more than 600, in fact—and each had to be reviewed to see if it was still relevant. “We were able to eliminate a lot of SQRs, while many others still had to be converted” to work with the upgrade, Papa explains. “That meant every SQR had to be reviewed, touched, updated, and then tested.”
In the end, all these upfront preparations paid off with a modern, efficient technology foundation that CSX is using to ride the rail industry’s resurgence.