About the Client
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation (Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation, from 1935 to 1985) also known as 20th Century Fox, or simply 20th or Fox is one of the six major American film studios as of 2010. Located in the Century City area of Los Angeles, just west of Beverly Hills, the studio is a subsidiary of News Corporation.
- To upgrade the ERP Financials system and transition to an internet-enabled self-service applications environment while supporting a large user base and maintaining a high level of uptime.
- In order to ensure that web-based n-tier architecture met all of Fox’s requirements, the CherryRoad team conducted a comprehensive pre-upgrade planning, load testing and system monitoring. CherryRoad’s rigorous, structured approach to load testing incorporated a proven third-party automated testing product.
Transitioning to a Web-Based N-Tier Architecture
When Fox made the decision to upgrade its ERP Financials system, it faced some of the same challenges that many large enterprises encounter in transitioning to a web-based architecture, including:
- Ensuring acceptable online performance for a large number (500) of end-users
- Supporting a high volume of batch processes, especially during peak periods of report processing
- Maintaining high uptime requirements
- Minimizing new hardware procurement costs
Fox engaged CherryRoad Technologies for the upgrade, based on CherryRoad’s successful past work with the company on Financials implementations, upgrades, and evaluations. CherryRoad had implemented Fox’s Accounts Receivable and Billing systems, then upgraded the overall Financials system, and implemented Asset Management all successful projects, completed on time and on budget.
For the upgrade, CherryRoad laid out a plan to ensure that the web-based architecture met all of Fox’s requirements:
- Pre-Upgrade Planning Before the upgrade, perform Upgrade Readiness Evaluation, including designing a comprehensive hardware architecture that included all components, costs, and configuration of web-based n-tier architecture.
- Load Testing During the upgrade, utilize Segue SilkPerformer utilities to stress test the online and batch components to determine their upper limits.
- System Monitoring For post-production support, establish monitoring procedures and make additional recommendations to enable IT to constantly monitor all components of the architecture to proactively prevent issues.
Prior to the upgrade, CherryRoad initiated the project with a Readiness Assessment, which included architecting the new hardware environment. To ensure the new web-based architecture would support their extensive online and batch requirements, the CherryRoad team used industry benchmarks, best practices, and normalized hardware metrics to define baselines. They quickly captured critical data to properly size infrastructure requirements and configured report servers to eliminate bottlenecks.
The team also addressed critical factors in designing the hardware architecture, including issues of scalability, administration, and load balancing and failover. They used multiple smaller servers in a server cluster a more scalable solution than a single large server. In addition, in selecting servers, they identified the vendors’ latest product lines, to maximize support and maintenance, and used the initial baseline benchmarks to validate the choices. The end result was a comprehensive specification document that included alternative hardware configurations, server and switch model numbers, software and middleware, and detailed budget. Fox was therefore able to procure the new hardware and receive vendor certification well before the upgrade began.
CherryRoad validated the configuration with a rigorous and structured approach to load testing with a proven third-party automated testing product. Fox and CherryRoad partnered with Segue, a leading provider of load testing applications, to assist in this effort. Using the SilkPerformer product, the team simulated conditions of high-volume online users, peak batch processing periods, and intensive transaction processing.
A key focus was Fox’s extensive use of nVision reporting, which under the new architecture centralized all report processing and could potentially create bottlenecks. Because of the careful planning done before the upgrade, the configured servers were able to pass load testing and proved that hardware issues would be minimized at the completion of the upgrade.
In order to ensure that hardware problems are detected and proactively solved on an ongoing basis, CherryRoad assisted Fox in implementing a systematic process of monitoring all internet-enabled self-service applications components. This included using utilities such as Tuxedo monitors, as well as those delivered with the Oracle RDBMS. The Unix operating system also provides various tools that provide statistics on system utilization. Fox is also using Segue Service Analysis Module (SAM) to monitor back-end systems and create effective monitoring metrics.
A Successful Launch
Transitioning to an internet-enabled environment requires careful planning, particularly for organizations with a large number of users and high processing requirements. It is therefore critical that planning and testing be performed before, during, and after the upgrade. CherryRoad effectively helped Twentieth Century Fox navigate through this transition.
As Cindy McKenzie, VP of Corporate IT for Fox said, â€œThanks to CherryRoad’s comprehensive approach to infrastructure design and testing, we were able to roll out our Financials system to our large user base without experiencing any significant performance issues.â€