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Back in the old days, we used the term “Archiving” in a very broad sense.  It usually meant deleting data out of the database so it remained a manageable size.  Then, SAP came up with it’s version of Data Archiving, a whooping new idea that MOVED data from the on-line database to the file system or third party archive system that could be read via read programs.  Of course, they didn’t call it a read program, they called it an analyze program…which is basically what it did.  It analyzed the archive files and displayed the data that met the criteria in the selection screen.  They also had some innovative ideas around the ability to display data from archive files using the original transaction…for some transactions, such as financial documents.Move forward a few more years, and SAP continued building upon it’s archiving functionality with the introduction of the Archive Information System.   This allowed indexing archive files so that it was easier to display the archived data.  Some people got very creative with the Archive Information System and used it to extract data from the archive files to satisfy a legal request for data – early e-Discovery.  Since it allowed an easier access to archived data, it allowed archivists to archive data that the business usually would have required to remain on-line in the database.

A short time later, the Document Relationship Browser was introduced. The DRB utilized the Archive Information System indexes and allowed users to display certain SAP transactions whether they were archived or not…even a combination of both from one transaction code.  The document relationships (think document flow) were maintained and this was a huge benefit for archiving project managers that wanted to get more aggressive with archiving.

SAP responded to an ASUG Influence request to help automate the different retention requirements for different countries by introducing the Archive Routing functionality.  This allowed the system to route archive files to specific content repositories (the new buzz word for an archive storage system) which helped segregate archive files based upon the different retention times for specific transactions and other criteria.Times were changing.  Storage costs were coming down and legal costs were going up.  The reasons for archiving became less about storage cost and more about “data liability”, or more simply put, retaining ONLY data that was required by your records retention policies.  In some countries, such as the US, if you have data pertaining to a legal case, you may be required to provide that data to the courts.  So, it became more important to NOT have old data lying around.  Didn’t stop there though…the ASUG Influence council saw the need for an even finer granularity of archived data.  There was a need to be able to “tag” each record with a retention value so that the final deletion of data was under a more strict control.   Furthermore, there was a requirement to place a lock on data that was included in a Legal Hold Order until the legal issue was resolved.  These records would be retained LONGER than the standard retention, or there would be penalties incurred by the courts.  

And now that SAP systems have been live for quite a while, there are some companies that are “sun setting” them, but still must retain the data (Information) for the remainder of its “Lifecycle”.   Hummm, Information Lifecycle Management, or ILM for short.  Nice name for a new Product from SAP —  SAP Netweaver Information Lifecycle Management.

There you have it – Archiving to ILM.

 Want to know more?  http://service.sap.com/ILM

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