Controlling the size of your SAP database by regularly archiving static and infrequently accessed data will keep your SAP system running at optimal levels. It can improve system performance, cut storage costs, reduce backup timescales and minimize unplanned system downtime.
Aside from this, archiving older or unused data is an effective way of speeding up SAP software upgrades – if there is less data to migrate, the upgrade becomes faster and simpler.
So if archiving is on your ‘to do’ list this year, here are ten tips for a successful archiving project, based on the experience of global SAP customers working with my company, Macro 4.
1 Do start archiving as soon as possible after a new SAP system goes live. Remember that SAP recommends you include archiving within your initial implementation project. Why? Because getting into good housekeeping habits from the outset will keep system performance at optimum levels and prevent unnecessary storage cost increases later.
2 Do consider archiving before business productivity starts to be affected. If your database has been expanding for a while, watch out for early warning signs that performance problems could be round the corner: slower or erratic batch response times, a gradual degradation in online response times or an increase in the number of query timeouts are all indicators that the database is getting too big.
3 Do reassure end users in the business that archiving doesn’t mean data will be hidden away on magnetic tapes in a dusty old vault. Today’s archives are online, and archived data is accessible from the SAP application, so end users will see little difference. It’s just that the data is read-only, and is held in a compressed state on low-cost storage hardware.
4 Do involve your business users from the outset. Together you will need to decide on your retention strategy: how long do different types of data need to be retained online? Which data can be deleted? Which needs to be archived and at what point in the future can it be removed from the archive? Buy-in from the business is essential so make sure you explain the benefits: better system performance for them and ultimately improved productivity and customer service.
5 Do analyze your SAP database before you begin, to help you decide where to start. There are up to 100,000 tables in the latest SAP software release so it’s important to prioritize. You can get a free database health check from Macro 4 that will identify which of your tables hold the most data and where you have most scope to release data – because of its age and type. So you can focus on these key areas and deliver ‘quick wins’ to the business.
6 Don’t treat archiving as a one-off exercise. Once you have delivered your first ‘quick wins’ and demonstrated the benefits to your business, undertake another health check to help assess where your next set of savings can be made. Regular archiving is essential so that you continue to keep database growth under control.
7 Don’t expect to buy archiving ‘off the shelf’. In addition to an SAP-certified content server you will need specialist archiving skills to help you build, test and deploy your archiving strategy. For example, there are over 620 different SAP archiving objects – the programs that remove data from the SAP system. Use SAP archiving experts to guide you in choosing the correct archiving objects and customising them where necessary, to work with your SAP system.
8 Don’t try to archive everything all in one go. If you have been running SAP for a number of years you will have amassed significant volumes of data which should be archived in a succession of out-of-hours archiving runs, to avoid impacting live system performance. Once you are up-to-date you will just need to schedule a regular archiving run – typically quarterly.
9 Do reorganise your database indexes after archiving to ensure that you optimise system performance. And remember to reorganize your tables in order to reclaim spare disk space released by archiving. That’s well worth doing when you consider that a single terabyte of Tier 1 storage could cost as much as £150,000 over its lifetime, once you factor in support and maintenance overheads.
10 Do remember that you can store more than just data on your archiving system. You will be able to archive documents from the SAP spool and scanned, inbound documents too. This will free up additional database space and provide convenient long-term access to print lists and other key documents.