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Unicode chat with SAP’s Storm Archer (podcast) [UPDATED 29-JUL-2008]

I spoke with  Storm Archer III of SAP on Thursday, April 17, 2008 after his webcast on Unicode and SAP ERP 6.0.  We discussed the current interest in conversions, how many companies have yet to start or complete projects, topics brought up during the webcast in text chat or verbal questions, went over sessions planned for the ASUG 08 conference in May, and resources available at the conference for those who need them.

The webcast was part of the ASUG/SAP series of Netweaver Customer Calls, with more details available on the SDN wiki page:

The slides are online and also linked in the wiki (login to is a prerequisite)


A recording of the one-hour plus webcast will be linked in the wiki; the podcast was made later the same day and is around 17 minutes.

The chat log is also in the wiki.  I will be annotating the chat questions with pointers to answers – others are encouraged to do the same.


I’ve removed outdated and am filling in with new material.  Since we finished our Unicode conversions earlier in 2008, and I spoke about them at SAP TechEd 2007 and at ASUG 08, I have talked to several SAP customers still planning their projects.  In some cases the questions are straighforward, so sending links to my slides, as well as a few key email addresses, gets them on their way.  Today, however, I had a long conference call with a customer who was in dire straits.

It seems they have a 2+TB database, and their initial downtime estimates were well beyond what their business would allow (days not hours).  Thus, the dilemma they faced was an increasing downtime duration as their database continues to grow, but little hope of getting project approval.  When I asked what they based their estimate on, they said a few trials and an SAP webcast earlier this year.  I was late to the webcast, so I seem to have missed their important question, to wit:

Q) What is the expected throughput for Unicode conversions using SAP tools?

A) 30 – 50 GB per hour

They got in touch with me because our conversions were all well over 100GB per hour for full export and import times.  Nils Buerckel of SAP sent me a link to the most recent Unicode conversion tips and tricks document, also known as “Unicode: Hardware Requirements and Customer Experiences” from December 2007.  Page 9 lists over 2 dozen customers who converted databases greater than 1TB.  I charted the top 5, based on values I saw on this chart:

Hours  GB  GB/Hour 
 13  3,600  276.9
 21  4,000  190.5
 13  4,500  346.2
 5  7,500  1,500.0
 26  9,000  346.2

I won’t claim that our conversion rate is in the top 5 (Nils won’t reveal company names, so you’ll need to read between the lines) but I know we didn’t have 7.5 TB databases, and still don’t.

The 50 GB/hour might be considered a worse case; if you have not been reinvesting and renovating your systems infrastructure over time you may be faced with going to management at an inconvenient time.

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