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SAP software users can reduce business risk by turning to archiving, suggests new research

Archiving can help reduce backup and restore timescales, improve performance and cut storage costs

2009.09.11

New European research indicates that SAP software users can reduce system downtime by using archiving to remove large volumes of historical information.

45 per cent of SAP software users admit their data is growing faster than expected and 69 per cent complained that their main worry about keeping large volumes of data in their SAP database is the time it takes to back up and protect their system, according to a new survey by SAP archiving expert Macro 4.

“We’ve come across organisations whose SAP databases have grown so large that backups take over 15 hours, making them difficult to schedule without disrupting productivity,” explained Lynda Kershaw, Marketing Manager at Macro 4, which surveyed 135 SAP users in UK, France and Spain. “More importantly, data restores take much longer than backups and we’ve spoken to users with large databases who know it would take them several days to get their core business systems up and available again in the event of failure. The impact on sales and productivity could be catastrophic, especially for businesses that operate 24 x7, such as an online retailers.

“Some people falsely assume that if they’re mirroring their data at a secondary site, they’ll always get the system back instantly. But any corruption to data at the main site will just be mirrored to the second location, so on many occasions you’re still left with lengthy downtime as you try to restore large volumes of data from backup,” added Kershaw.

Other negative effects of running larger SAP databases include the software responding more slowly and disrupting end user productivity, mentioned by 55 per cent of the survey. 47 per cent of respondents were concerned about greater storage hardware requirements and 35 per cent identified slower batch performance.

The research indicates that a big part of the problem is older information which is seldom accessed. 67 per cent of respondents admitted that static, historical data makes up a significant proportion of their SAP data, but only 43 per cent said they archive this inactive data off the system. In the UK and Spain archiving use was even lower - 36 per cent and 31 per cent respectively.

Archiving can take historical data away from the main SAP database so that it no longer impacts on system resources or clogs up the backup and restore process. Storage costs are reduced because older data is removed from expensive hard disk storage and placed on lower cost online media where it is held in compliance with industry regulations and remains accessible.

“It’s not just the cost of hard disk space that you’ll save by moving data to less costly storage hardware, but the cost of managing the hard disk. IT industry analyst firm Gartner estimates that the storage administration costs for managing one terabyte of hard disk space are five to seven times higher than the cost of the hard disk itself,” explained Kershaw from Macro 4, which works with SAP software users to manage their data.

Another point that Macro 4 was keen to emphasize is that data moved into an SAP archive is just as accessible as if it were still live within the system:

“The archiving process is completely transparent to the end user and most people would notice no difference whether they were calling up something from the archive or from the live environment,” said Kershaw

Nick Parkin, technical director at specialist SAP data archiving consultancy, Proceed, points out that archiving is a sensible strategy for the many companies who are currently contemplating upgrading to the latest version of SAP’s software, SAP ERP 6.0:

“Many organisations find that the large volumes of data involved can mean it takes several days to implement upgrades, making them a nightmare to schedule - most firms can’t afford to be without their SAP system for such a long time. So it makes sense to archive the bulk of your historical information before you upgrade. You’ll have less data to migrate, making the upgrade faster and less complex. Generally we find that upgrades often run a third faster after archiving so that disruption can be minimized.”

For organisations that are wondering if archiving would benefit them, Parkin suggests they look at their batch performance times:

“If you’re holding too much data in your SAP database, slower batch performance and timeouts on queries are among the first things you’ll notice. Over time if you don’t address the issue, things will get worse and you’ll get end users finding the system running slowly and potentially even bigger problems such as crashes and downtime.”

About the Research
Macro 4’s research consisted of an online survey of 135 IT executives working in private and public sector organisations that use SAP. 55 of the sample were in the UK, 45 in France and 35 in Spain.

Macro 4 SAP Database Health Check
Macro 4 is providing a free health check to analyse users’ databases and identify archiving possibilities. For further information click here.

About Macro 4
Macro 4 is a global software company that helps organisations to improve the performance of their critical business applications by making the complex simple. Macro 4’s solutions for application performance, document management and application availability are easy to use, fast to implement and deliver value quickly in even the most complex IT environments.

US and European subsidiaries and a network of international business partners represent the company in every major market worldwide.

Macro 4’s Document Management solutions capture, store, present and deliver business-critical documents electronically and physically in the most appropriate way to increase the efficiency of key processes such as SAP™ ERP, application decommissioning and customer service via the Internet or call centres.

Macro 4 is a part of the UNICOM Group of Companies.

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