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At the 2010 ASUG Annual Conference/SAPPHIRE conference in Orlando, FL in May, I attended and spoke at an ASUG Community Session about ASUG Influence Council Best Practices.  I thought I would expand on that session to those who were not able to attend.

I have been involved with ASUG Influence Councils since my very first ASUG Conference, the 2002 Fall Forum in Phoenix, AZ.  During the Archiving Community Session, we started talking about current archiving related issues.  One topic that everyone agreed was becoming an issue was that you could only assign one content repository per archive object.  As more and more companies were becoming global, we were discovering that different countries have different retention requirements.  Companies were either having to group all data within one content repository, or, they were having to change the configuration via a transport in between archive runs.  Neither option was very good. 

At the next conference, the 2003 ASUG Annual Conference in New Orleans, LA,  this same issue was brought up again in the archiving track.  Georg Fischer, the SAP Archiving Product Manager (his title at the time – it is much longer now 🙂 ) asked the group if there was enough interest in this issue to form an ASUG Influence Council. 

Some things to know about forming an ASUG Influence Council:

  • Need 5 – 10 ASUG Installation Member Companies (customers)
  • Need a SAP Sponsor
  • Need a Customer Lead

It was very obvious by the number of people that raised their hands, that there was going to be enough interest in organizing a formal ASUG Influence Council. 

I separate ASUG Influence Councils into 2 categories:

  • Formal Influence Council – where there is the above mentioned criteria as well as the group meets regularly and documents feedback to give to SAP
  • Roadmap Sessions – updates from SAP on the future direction of a product

An Influence Council was formed and we started meeting regularly via conference calls/webexes.  The issue of multiple retention requirements for one archive object led to further discussions of how to manage the data when it had reached its end-of-life.  The evolution of archiving into Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) began.  I like to define ILM as a strategy of managing data from creation to destruction.

This is where things started getting really exciting – for archiving geeks anyway :-). 

When discussing managing data from creation to destruction, yet another issue was raised – how do you handle data that has a legal hold?  For example, you have 100 archived records in one archive file, and, for legal reasons, you need to keep 10 of those records while the rest of them have reached their retention period and could be destroyed.  The current functionality did not provide a way to separate those 10 records needed for legal reasons, so you had to keep all of them.  I know most people are aware that there are liabilities for getting rid of data before it has met its retention requirements (Enron), but, there is also a liability for keeping data past its retention period.  If you still have data that is past its retention period and a legal issue surfaces, this data is still eligible for discovery and will need to be provided to the courts.

Yes, I have digressed from the topic of ASUG Influence Councils, but, as these additional issues surfaced, the scope of the Influence Council grew.  It was decided to have multiple phases as all of these issues would not be able to be tackled all at once.

The first phase concentrated on the immediate need to provide functionality where an archive object could be assigned to more than one content repository.  SAP provided this new functionality when they introduced Archive Routing which has been available since SAP NetWeaver 2004S.

The second phase covered the much larger issue of managing data from creation to destruction as well as a way to handle not only legal holds, but e-discovery as well.  SAP went all out when they delivered this functionality, as they delivered a whole new product – the SAP NetWeaver ILM Solution.

For more information about this solution:

http://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/sdn/ilm

Being part of this ASUG Influence Council was an amazing experience.  I was able to not only work with other SAP customers facing the same issues, but, was able to work with and give direct feedback to SAP where they not only provided additional functionality, but, a whole new product to help manage data.  This is one example of why I believe in the power of ASUG Influence Councils. 

The title of this blog states Part 1 – I am also planning a Part 2 which will describe my experiences of being the customer lead for the ASUG SAP NetWeaver User Interface Influence Council.

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