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Eskom migrates to Windows 7 and doubles SAP roll-out for 54,000 users

South African generating giant extends IT overhaul

Africa's largest electricity company Eskom has started its migration to Windows 7 and 8 from Windows XP.

The company is also adding around another 20 SAP business software modules to the first implementation of an SAP upgrade it completed in October 2011.

Eskom provides 95 percent of South Africa's power and 40 percent of Africa's total electricity consumed. The state-owned business has 27 main power generating locations providing coal, gas, hydro, nuclear and wind power.

The previous SAP upgrade saw Eskom consolidate from four different SAP systems covering various areas of its business to a single instance, to create a "single version of the truth", as well as save millions of Rand from only signing a single SAP software contract.

At the time the company also moved away from customised SAP applications and chose instead to deploy "vanilla" deployments to "remove complexity" from its operations. It was found by Eskom that customised SAP apps created data silos and made it harder to upgrade systems.

Eskom is now taking that a step further by adding another 20 modules to cover business areas including mobile working, e-recruitment, estates management and others, to further support 34,000 SAP end users at the company.

Sal Laher, CIO of Eskom, said, "We are also preparing for a third stage in our SAP deployment in the future, which will help us introduce new smart metering schemes, which is where the industry has to head."

Eskom hit the headlines this week when it admitted it would be on the brink of blackouts this coming winter as a result of maintenance and resulting downtime at some of its generating plants.

Smart metering with the aim of reducing power usage could help alleviate future problems.

On the advantages of the Windows 7 and 8 upgrades, covering the desktops, laptops and other mobile devices of 54,000 users, Laher said, "Migrating to Windows 7 will give us better integration with other applications, improve mobility, and increase security.

"In addition, Windows 8 will provide a better graphical user interface for our executives that use tablets."

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