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High Availability - Executive Overview

Today’s manufacturers are increasingly burdened with managing their supply chain IT systems. Due to out-sourced manufacturing and acquisition of other companies, the ability for their IT organizations to keep these systems up and accurate during critical manufacturing operations is a major challenge.

Inventory movement, receiving and shipping are core operations that must continue even if connections to remote enterprise systems are down. The problem is further increased by the traditional methods of addressing the problem. Maintaining completely separate data collection systems or entire manufacturing systems, results in complicated interfaces and costly master data management projects. As a result, many IT managers find it very difficult to respond to the changing requirements of the business.

Today’s manufacturers are increasingly burdened with managing their supply chain IT systems. Due to out-sourced manufacturing and acquisition of other companies, the ability for their IT organizations to keep these systems up and accurate during critical manufacturing operations is a major challenge.

Inventory movement, receiving and shipping are core operations that must continue even if connections to remote enterprise systems are down. The problem is further increased by the traditional methods of addressing the problem. Maintaining completely separate data collection systems or entire manufacturing systems, results in complicated interfaces and costly master data management projects. As a result, many IT managers find it very difficult to respond to the changing requirements of the business.

The Remote Warehouse Dilemma - A Common Problem

The manufacturing process is no longer a one-warehouse scenario. The cost-savings of out-sourcing is making it more and more attractive for original equipment manufacturers to move some or all of their manufacturing processes overseas. While the savings to the organization justify these activities the result is a much more complex environment for the IT organization. The need for continuous operations is more of a requirement than ever before and IT managers must cope with this complexity.

The traditional approach is to maintain a separate warehouse system. This provides uptime to the local facility but at a significant cost. Traditionally, IT managers design and build custom data synchronization routines to shuttle data back and forth from the local system to the enterprise system. This method addresses the short term problem but leaves the organization with a system that has an increasing number of points for failure and a lower ability to react to change and new IT initiatives. Most of the time organizations must employ full-time resources to make sure the synchronization routines are running properly and the data is flowing smoothly.

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Using Replication Techniques to Solve the Remote System Problem

Companies continually face the issues these remote warehouses and systems create. This problem is further exasperated due to mergers and acquisitions of other companies requiring adding even more remote systems.

The goal is to have a replicated view that is a combination of the current activity of the local warehouse combined with the activity of the enterprise at the same time. In this environment, the maintenance of multiple warehouses and costly interfaces are eliminated. Relevant activity of the local warehouse is added to the most recent enterprise data. The local warehouse user continues to operate even if the connection to the remote enterprise is down. When the connection is re-established or the enterprise comes back online, the queued transactions are executed and the local activity tables are cleared.

To achieve this goal, the system must have a lightly-coupled architecture to the enterprise to minimize the amount of replicated tables required. Further, it must contain a robust queuing mechanism to keep track of the local activity performed and it must use replication and database views to bring all of the data together to provide an accurate view to the local warehouse user.

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RFgen’s Approach to The Remote Warehouse Problem

At the heart of RFgen’s High Availability solutions is the RFgen Transaction Management system. This technology is a robust and intelligent transaction execution and storage mechanism that records all local activity at point of transaction and when the enterprise is available it intelligently executes the transactions in real-time.

Another important component is RFgen’s Mobile Foundation Suites for enterprise systems (SAP, Oracle, JD Edwards, etc.) These certified mobile transaction suites provide a very effective yet lightly-coupled mobile architecture that fully supports and enables this approach.

All RFgen High Availability Solutions come pre-packaged with a set of pre-tested database scripts used to build the database artifacts required to support these types of distributed environments.

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By employing a native feature of the database called replication, many organizations are realizing, when used in the right way, their system architecture can become even simpler and provide flexible scheduled and un-scheduled downtime for the entire organization.

Replication is the process of sharing information so as to ensure consistency between redundant resources such as software or hardware components, to improve reliability, fault-tolerance, or accessibility. In addition to replication, local cardex tables are maintained and updated to keep track of operations performed at the local level. All of these artifacts are brought together with local database views.

The result is called RFgen High Availability; an accurate, local system view of the enterprise which represents the net results of all activities performed by local users combined with the data from the remote enterprise system. A robust and intelligent transaction management system is required to complete this architecture.

By using the RFgen High Availability solution architecture, many IT managers are finding they can provide a simple real-world solution to a very complex problem.
Conclusion

Warehouse mobile and wirelesss data collection systems have provided value to organizations for years. However, the Remote System problem has affected many IT organizations’ ability to effectively manage downtime, data synchronization and integrity. A system that employs advanced replication techniques, intelligent transaction management and lightly-coupled mobile architecture will help reduce costs while dramatically increasing system uptime.

RFgen provides a robust and flexible approach that enables IT to create a simplified architecture based on these principles. The pre-tested, packaged solution of RFgen’s Mobile Framework, RFgen’s Transaction Management, RFgen’s Mobile Foundations for enterprise, and RFgen’s High-Availability toolkit, offers an unparalleled solution, all based on a standard industry leading platform. Intelligent replication techniques coupled with RFgen’s technology can reduce complexity, improve change management, and improve the organization’s ability to add additional remote warehouses in the future.