I used to work at an international manufacturing company, and we implemented SAP when so many others did, prior to Y2K. As we added modules and converted facilities onto the SAP system, our data kept growing and performance was on the decline. It was time to do something about it. SAP recommended data archiving, but could we do it? How painful would this be?
I’d like to share my thoughts and experiences from a client’s perspective for those of you considering embarking on the same journey.
What drove us to consider SAP Data Archiving Implementation?
- Although SAP had been up and running at our company for only 8 years, the database was growing by leaps and bounds, and the performance was getting gradually worse. Some long-running processes would not complete without breaking them into smaller amounts of data selected. System refreshes and backups were taking too long; downtimes were in danger of interfering with production availability
- SAP’s Early Watch recommended several tuning measures, and some data cleanup, but primarily touted data archiving
- Management wanted solutions that would reduce the cost of new hardware, and was intended to sustain the system
What if we didn’t do it?
- Users were noticing the performance degradation
- Long-running batch processes were taking too long to complete and occasionally would stop because of database size issues; this could only get worse as the data grew
- Additional hardware was not the answer; we had done all the tuning we could do and it was time to do something about the quantity of data
How should we approach this project: use internal resources, use SAP Consulting, use external consultants?
- Internal resources were still ramping up additional SAP modules, and did not have time to devote to driving an archiving project
- Using SAP resources was excluded for budgetary reasons
- We did not have any expertise in archiving, and did not know where to begin. We knew our lack of expertise would be a detriment to good results, and to the budget (because it would take longer)
How long (and expensive) will the project be?
- We knew that using internal resources exclusively would take much longer to build and refine the knowledge level needed
- Consulting firms who had “been there, done that” knew what to tackle and how to do it in the most efficient and timely manner. They could estimate and stick to costs and timelines, and had the background to avoid or resolve problems
- Depending on the data being archived and the scope of the project, it might take as little as two months to get started, and extend as long as the need and the budget existed. We could start by archiving technical data and progress boldly to more functional areas
What were the challenges in Data Archiving Implementation?
- Internal resources are critical – they need to be engaged with the project on every level. Finding resources was hard when everyone was already very busy; we were still adding modules to the SAP systems which of course increased the growth of data. Dedicated resources were key (as they always are)
- Communication / justification of work needed is essential between consultant and internal resources, and among all involved teams. Getting the attention of those involved could be hard to do. Feedback from team members was frequently delayed and sometimes pushed the timeline back
- ABAP work was needed at various points, and required the Development team to learn the concepts and work with the Data Archiving project. Their time had to be budgeted along with everything else they already had to do
- Testing, testing, testing – this was the key to success. Internal resources need to understand how important it is, and to create and execute thorough tests to ensure success for their functional areas. To ignore testing is to invite dissatisfaction from users who may need to learn different methods to view archived data
- Change management and communication between the project and the SAP user community needed to occur every step of the way – “early and often” – to get the message out and prepare the mindset for change
Was it successful?
- Absolutely! Database size shrank, performance improved, user complaints diminished. Hardware needs became more stable and the database stopped pushing the limits as frequently. System refreshes and backups required less time and resources (read that as “saved money”)
- Management recognized the value of the project and extended it to a two-year effort in order to archive more data
- We became advocates of data archiving and allowed the consulting firm to publish our success (a rare occurrence)
Would I recommend SAP Data Archiving?
Yes, beyond any doubt. It’s not a “nice to have” process; it’s a necessity either now or in the near future for any company with Big Data. Partnering with a reliable consulting firm that has extensive knowledge and experience with SAP Data Archiving is a huge plus to ensure the success of the project, and the path forward for future data archiving efforts.
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