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Sun Rises Higher

Sun Microsystems' upgrade succeeds with personalized Oracle support.

by Tom McNamara
Sun Microsystems, which is one of the world's largest technology companies, with more than US$13 billion in sales and 34,000 employees worldwide, credits some of its recent financial success to its decision to upgrade to Oracle E-Business Suite 11i, from Procurement to Payroll and beyond and to use Oracle's Solution Support Center to manage support tasks.

The Solution Support Center is an enhancement to Oracle Premier Support and delivers Oracle's highest level of proactive, personalized support from a dedicated service delivery manager. It also provides a team of service delivery engineers and Oracle technical experts available 24/7. The Oracle Solution Support Center has simplified and streamlined the upgrade process and has helped Sun improve alignment between its business and IT priorities, as well as accelerate the adoption of new Oracle technologies and minimize the cost and risk of change.

Read how synergy between Sun's IT group and Oracle's Solution Support Center has enabled support problems to get resolved faster and provided valuable efficiency and process improvements that have had a positive measurable impact on Sun's business.

When the earth revolves around you, you're obviously doing something right. At least that's how the folks at Sun Microsystems must be feeling lately. After some challenging years, the Silicon Valley icon regained market share in 2006, launched several new products and services, and formed a strategic partnership with Intel. With all the positive news, it appears that Sun's star is once again on the rise. No. 211 on the Fortune 500, Sun Microsystems is one of the world's largest technology companies, with more than US$13 billion in sales and 34,600 employees worldwide.

Helping to fuel that rise is Sun's companywide upgrade to Oracle E-Business Suite 11i, from Procurement to Payroll and beyond. Recognizing that great software also needs great support to drive upgrade success, Sun turned to Oracle's Solution Support Center, one of Oracle's Advanced Customer Services, to take on the task of support. As an enhancement to Oracle Premier Support, the Solution Support Center delivers Oracle's highest level of proactive, personalized support from a dedicated service delivery manager along with a team of service delivery engineers and Oracle technical experts available 24/7.

The Support They Need

By simplifying and streamlining the upgrade process, the Oracle Solution Support Center has helped Sun improve alignment between its business and IT priorities, accelerate the adoption of new Oracle technologies, and minimize the cost and risk of change. As director of configuration engineering, Dr. John Will heads the group that manages Sun's online ordering and configuration system. The Configurator, as Will calls it, enables Sun's customers to enter their system specifications over the Web and then matches this information to a set of product or service options. Handling more than 3,600 orders each day, the Configurator is critical to both Sun's and its customers' business continuity. "Our experience with Oracle's Advanced Customer Services team has been exceptional. Having a dedicated Solution Support Center team means our upgrade issues are given priority early on, so problems get resolved faster. And the synergy between our IT group and the Solution Support Center has resulted in efficiency and process improvements that have had a measurable impact on our business," says Will.

That's why Oracle and Sun work together to understand the rewards and risks of every upgrade. With Release 11.5.10, Will relied on the Oracle Solution Support Center to evaluate the business and technical impact of the Configurator upgrade. "The Solution Support Center helped us reduce our upgrade planning effort by approximately 50 percent. We relied on them to communicate the benefits and to walk us through any potential pitfalls," says Will. "Upgrades always have cascading effects, so you have to understand the impact on everything down the line, from the operating system to the supporting applications. The team gave us this context, which simplified the process and eliminated the risk of unplanned disruptions."

Upgrading with Ease

Beyond the planning stage, the Oracle Solution Support Center team works closely with Sun throughout the upgrade cycle to ensure maximum results. During the transformation and testing stages, for instance, the Solution Support Center team identifies patch sets that provide improved reliability, performance, and certification compliance. They then provide patch assessment reports with detailed recommendations on dependencies, merging techniques, required patches or version levels from other vendors, patch application sequence guidance, and more. "This holistic approach makes our upgrades much smoother and more efficient, saving us a lot of headaches and expense," says Will.

Helping Sun save time and money is one of the functions of its dedicated service delivery manager (SDM). A full-time resource available to all Oracle Solution Support Center customers, the SDM provides support management and expert advice to ensure that upgrades go smoothly. With a deep understanding of the customer's business and technical needs, the SDM acts as guru, counselor, and solution provider, calling on an extended team of service engineers, developers, and subject-matter experts as needed. "Before undertaking any software upgrade, we work closely with the Solution Support Center team to assess the risks involved. They've been instrumental in helping us flag issues in advance and ensuring quick resolution if and when problems do come up," says Will.

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