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Lufthansa flies off to SAP replacement

Many HP 3000 customers who migrate do so onto lower-priced alternatives. User reports are rife with stories of Eloquence replacing TurboIMAGE, or programs which are emulated with few rewrites onto Windows systems, using a tool like AMXW (deployed at financials giant ING) or Ordina's MPUX. But some 3000 sites have succeeded at making the SAP behemoth work in place of MPE/iX in-house-written apps.

That's the report from Lufthansa Technik Airmotive Ireland, where IT manager Joe Farrell has managed the last of the transitions away from the HP 3000. SAP has been the target platform for the aircraft manufacturing firm ever since HP announced it would exit the 3000 community. Now the last 3000 app is being transferred to work on Intel-based servers. Lufthansa uses servers from Hewlett-Packard, no less.

"Incidentally, we host SAP on an entirely Intel-based platform (originally NetServers, but more recently Proliants)," Farrell reported. "There’s HP loyalty for you!"

"We’ve replaced all but one of our HP 3000 applications," Farrell said. "The last remaining one, a custom application for Contract Billing/Invoicing, is being redeveloped onto a new platform."

Lufthansa turned to SAP's high-level Advanced Business Application Programming language to rewrite the billing/invoicing app. ABAP is positioned as SAP's tool for its Web Application Server, part of its NetWeaver platform for building business applications. ABAP, which harkens back to the German roots of SAP's designs, has a syntax that is said to be similar to COBOL. The German name for ABAP translates into "general report creation processor." Farrell reports of his final migrated 3000 app:

We developed it in-house over 17 years ago, mainly in PowerHouse, with a bit of COBOL for the more challenging processing. It also uses Fantasia for producing customer-friendly output. And, needless to say, it uses the trusty TurboIMAGE database for the data.

We have re-written it, again in-house, as a custom module for our SAP platform. It was developed using the ABAP language, and SAP-Script for formatting the output. This was the most logical (no pun intended) platform for it — as our ERP system, including Financials, are all SAP-based at this stage. So now the users will have a single front-end GUI, and the data is integrated in a single Oracle database.