What’s the Real Cost of Integrating High Availability Software?

If you were trick or treating in October of 1999, chances are your bag of treats held considerably less Hershey products. In September of that same year, the company admitted to having issues with their newly implemented order-taking and distribution system.

The company had spent approximately $112 million dollars on a combination of ERP, SRM and supply chain management software. Hershey’s merger of this new software with their existing systems experienced failures that prevented the company from fulfilling $100 million dollars worth of customer orders. Not a good Halloween for Hershey.

Hershey’s had the financial reserves to weather the costly implementation setback but the failure of the new software to seamlessly integrate with their existing systems more than doubled the cost of their upgrade in the end. Preventing downtime is critical in all businesses, but is especially high on the list in manufacturing company’s like Hershey.

For example, when implementing a manufacturing execution system (MES) application, the risk is considerably higher due to the complex nature of production. Critical Manufacturing’s article “10 Reasons Why So Many MES Projects Fail,” explains that there is typically, “a complex web of components which broadly classified are- material, man and machine.”

The article goes on to say that, “even though there might be no other MES earlier installed, except in the case of a completely new factory, it is very unlikely that there are no other applications on the shop-floor. An MES is supposed to integrate the operation along with the existing IT infrastructure, so the application would be a failure if separate systems exist and users need to now work with both these and the MES separately. MES application needs to be a single comprehensive platform for optimum.”

Stratus’s Downtime Prevention Buyer’s Guide, talks about the six questions you should be asking to prevent downtime. Stratus suggests before agreeing to high availability software integration like MES, Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) or Historian systems that you ask, “Can your solution integrate seamlessly into existing computing environments with no application changes required?”.

“Some availability solutions integrate more easily into existing computing environments than others. Certain solutions may require that you make changes to your existing applications — a process that is time-consuming and typically requires specialized IT expertise.”

The guide goes on to give an example of a potential issue, “high availability clusters may need cluster-specific APIs to ensure proper fail-over. If ease of deployment and management are top priorities for your organization, you may want to consider a fault-tolerant solution that allows your existing applications to run without the risk and expense associated with modifications, special programming, and complex scripting.”

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