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Author's profile photo Sumanth Hegde

System Decommissioning with SAP ILM

Scenario of System Decommissioning

Many customers are currently in the planning and execution phase of transition to Intelligent Enterprise, are optimizing their current system landscape. This activity can bring about a situation where many of the current production systems become future legacy systems. This leaves an important question of how to manage the current production (future legacy) systems in a cost effective yet compliant manner. The strategic solution from SAP to handle the legacy system decommissioning is SAP ILM (Information Lifecycle Management).

This article is meant to provide an overview of system decommissioning using SAP ILM (Information Lifecycle Management) and SAP DMLT (Data Management and Landscape Transformation) tools and methodologies.

Main Requirements of a System Decommissioning solution

The activity of performing system decommissioning has mainly these three challenges, or requirements that a successful decommissioning solution needs to fulfill.

  • Data volume and heterogeneous systems – A sizable company usually has many systems with different releases and quite a few of them are very large in terms of data sizes. Hence to provide an effective system decommissioning solution, handling data volumes in a cost-effective manner is an important requirement.
  • Business categorization – As a natural consequence of a system which has been around for many years, there will be very few employees within the company who really understand what kind of applications and hence data exists in these systems and to which businesses in the company do they belong to. Hence asking a company to categorize what data is really needed from these systems is often an almost impossible task. So, a system decommissioning solution must be able to handle all business data in the legacy system without the need for a business user to classify or categorize data.
  • Data Retention Compliance – In the age of increased importance of protecting personal data, it is critical that the data from the legacy systems are only retained for the required amount of time. After its end of purpose, as mentioned by the respective data retention regulations, data needs to be destroyed. Legacy systems often have data which is quite old and typically contain data which is potentially ready for destruction. Hence a system decommissioning solution needs to be able to handle data compliance including the ability to destroy data, and documents attached to the data.


SAP Information Lifecycle Management

SAP ILM is the official product from SAP which has the functionality for performing system decommissioning. The product offers the following main functionalities:

  • Tools and techniques to perform archiving to move the data from the legacy system database ultimately to SAP archive files. The archive file format offers two important benefits – reduced size of data due to compression and is Read Only to fulfill audit requirements that the data should not be changeable.
  • Metadata archiving – The product contains possibility to archive the metadata along with business data. This means that the data can be recovered and represented in the same way as it was stored in the legacy system. This is an important technical capability, given that the solution must cater to a variety of legacy system with very different releases.
  • Retention Management – SAP ILM offers capability to apply data retention rules to the archive files generated from the data of the legacy system. This makes it possible to comply to requirements to destroy data which is not needed anymore.
  • Storage system interfaces – SAP ILM has interfaces to store the archive files in different types of storage systems. One category of these storage systems is WORM based storage systems. A recent addition to the storage systems are SAP IQ, Hadoop and also a consulting approach which supports Microsoft Azure BLOB storage.

DMLT approach for system decommissioning with SAP ILM

DMLT stands for Data Management and Landscape Transformation – a service organization in SAP which takes care of customer’s data-related needs and offers holistic approaches in all data management domains like data quality, data integration, data migration, data protection, or data compliance

Given the product functionality of SAP ILM, the below diagram depicts a typical landscape of a DMLT system decommissioning project:


To better understand the process, and flow of the data, we start from left to right:

  • Legacy system – Considering that the legacy system might be running on an old release and less powerful hardware, the approach makes sure that there is minimal activity running on the legacy system. The only requirement from an SAP legacy system might be the requirement to have an Add On installed to handle cluster tables. This Add On is quite flexible in terms for availability for older releases.


  • SLT system – SLT system stands for SAP Landscape Transformation Replication Server – a solution from SAP with data replication capabilities. This is one of the main systems as far as the project is concerned. The main concept is to replicate the data from legacy system into the SLT system and perform data archiving in this system. This enables the process to have flexibility in terms of hardware resources to match the expected timeline of a project. Even though data archiving technology is used, the tools used are very different compared to data archiving in live ERP system. The tools are designed for mass archiving scenario, and to include metadata as archive files.


  • ILM Retention Warehouse System – When all the data is archived, including metadata in SLT system, the archives file metadata are transferred to the ILM Retention Warehouse (RW) system. The files (which contain data) itself are then stored (moved from file system in SLT) into the storage system. Multiple options are available for choosing the storage system. It can be a WORM based storage system, cloud-based systems like Hadoop, Microsoft Azure (consulting solution) or SAP IQ.

In order to retrieve the data and perform reporting, there are two main tools – local reporting and accelerated reporting. Local reporting is a tool which has simple ad-hoc table-based access to access individual tables or even views from the legacy system. Accelerated reporting enables creation of dynamic database tables in ILM RW system and staging data from relevant archive files into these database tables. The generated table definition resembles the exact data format of the respective database table in the legacy system.


Tools for SAP ILM from DMLT

DMLT Extraction cockpitDMLT Extraction cockpit (a DMLT consulting solution) is a tool which runs on the SLT system, which helps to automate the activities of data replication from legacy system and performing data archiving. The cockpit is built on top of ILM product features. It is designed for mass parallelization, has best practice content from multiple projects incorporated and most significantly automates a large part of the extraction and archiving process. This is a very recent solution which has already proved to reduce the effort by more than 50% and the duration by 70 to 80%. Technically, the tool – categorizes data automatically, generates archive object definitions, generates ILM objects and retention rules, schedules archiving in parallel, and performs data reconciliations. Below is a screenshot of the tool:



DMLT ILM Reporting Best Practice package (a DMLT consulting solution) provides a reporting package in the SAP ILM Retention Warehouse system, built using the Accelerated Reporting functionality of the product. The package contains – a framework to build reports, a launcher which brings together all reports and the reporting content itself. The reports reflect original ERP transactions in SAP, which users are very comfortable with. The reports work across data from multiple legacy systems, offers capabilities to download data into MS Excel, and very importantly access attachments related to the business documents. Here is a sample screenshot of the selection screen of one such report:


System decommissioning with SAP ILM as a solution has capabilities and functionality to address decommissioning of an entire system. DMLT has further enhanced the product functionality with tools and best practice content, consolidated from multiple successful projects. Thereby adding important functionality and reducing the cost of a project.

This makes system decommissioning an attractive proposition for customers to reduce costs, mitigate risk of running obsolete software/hardware and helps to fulfill data compliance requirements.

More Information

If you need more information about the tools and processes above, please send an email to:

Here are some links to get more information:

Information on DMLT services –

Information on SAP ILM services of DMLT –

Data Volume Management –




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      Author's profile photo Girwar Meena
      Girwar Meena

      Excellence Article. Thank you for sharing. I have query about the ILM timeline. We are currently on ECC, planning to move to S/4 in couple of years. Current system on going archiving has generated large volume of archived data. My confusion is should we go for ILM implementation now or do directly in S/4. I am assuming to enable existing archive file ILM compatible we need to do the conversion and we may need to do another conversion when we go to S/4 as well as for Retention Warehouse Management to access legacy data.
      Could you share your recommendation in this scenario ..

      Author's profile photo Sumanth Hegde
      Sumanth Hegde
      Blog Post Author

      Very good question!

      You are right - there are both advantages and disadvantages of doing archiving before transition to the S/4.. But to answer the question better - how is the S/4 transition planned? Is it a conversion project? Please let me know so that I can provide a suitable answer.




      Author's profile photo Girwar Meena
      Girwar Meena

      We have four ECC landscape, they will be merged in single S/4 landscape. This will be greenfield implementation. First ECC is planned to start in 2022 and project may go until 2025.

      My concern is should we invest to implement ILM now. I am assuming it will require to convert existing archive file to ILM readable.
      Later when we decommission we may again need to covert to support legacy data via Retention Warehouse system.
      How to read old archive files in S/4 landscape.
      We have close to 800K+ archive files.

      Author's profile photo Sumanth Hegde
      Sumanth Hegde
      Blog Post Author

      If you implement ILM Retention Management now in ECC, you will have ILM enabled archiving. But with respect to system decommissioning, this is not required or much of a help. During the system decommissioning project, we will need anyhow to convert the existing ADK files to ILM compliant files that can be read in the ILM Retention Warehouse system.

      Author's profile photo Praveen Kumar Dwaraganath
      Praveen Kumar Dwaraganath

      Hello Sumath

      Requesting your clarification on below queries,

      1. My understanding is DMLT solution is supported only by SAP directly. How to decommission without DMLT.
      2. Is Replication server used only while performing through DMLT method?
      Author's profile photo Sumanth Hegde
      Sumanth Hegde
      Blog Post Author

      Hello Praveen


      While DMLT provides accelerators which makes the project faster, the SLT replication server and Legacy Extraction Workbench (LEW) method applies to standard method of SAP ILM system decommissioning.

      Hope this clarifies.



      Author's profile photo Praveen Kumar Dwaraganath
      Praveen Kumar Dwaraganath

      Hello Sumath

      Thanks for your quick reply.

      Please let me know if i could connect with you separately, if possible.


      Author's profile photo Kaiquan Mah
      Kaiquan Mah

      Hi Sumanth,

      For a SAP system which is already not in use, is SAP ILM able to extract data within various SAP tables and export in different formats (e.g. CSV) for archival?

      Author's profile photo Sumanth Hegde
      Sumanth Hegde
      Blog Post Author

      Hi Kaiquan


      Yes, not in CSV format but SAP ADK format.




      Author's profile photo kiran dasari
      kiran dasari



      Is it possible to retire SAP ILM itself? If someone wants to move out of ILM to some other archiving platform?




      Author's profile photo Satya Prasad
      Satya Prasad

      Hi Sumanth Hegde ,

      Can the SLT & RW exist on the same server?

      in that case we should have separate clients for SLT & RW, correct?

      is there a need to transfer archive files in this case from SLT to RW?

      Please advise,