The best practice advice from SAP AG is that customers should try to control the buildup of data on their SAP databases by using SAP archiving to take away inactive, historical information. By reducing the volume of data in the live system, archiving helps your SAP applications to run more efficiently, reduces storage costs and makes it easier to back up and restore critical business information.
Yet only around a third of SAP customers follow this advice. Archiving may seem like just another thing to add to the lengthy IT ‘to do’ list and many organisations convince themselves that it just isn’t relevant to them: they will get round to it later, if at all.
But this could be a mistake. Here we explore the seven most common objections to archiving and why you should think twice before using one of them as an excuse:
Objection 1: "But we don’t have a large volume of data in our SAP database, so there’s no need to archive yet ..."
You may not have huge data volumes today - but you still need to consider how fast your database is growing. For example, if a 500GB database grows by just 2% per month then it will increase to 1TB in size after only three years. Archiving from day one keeps that growth in check.
Performance is another issue: even if your SAP database doesn’t contain a large volume of data, individual database tables could still be overloaded and cause problems such as slow response times. And it’s worth remembering that different database management systems, such as DB2, Oracle and SQL Server, have different ‘safety limits’ for their tables. You need to perform an analysis of the individual tables to get a true picture of whether you will benefit from archiving.
Objection 2: "Storage hardware is relatively cheap, so we can buy more disk space rather than archiving..."
People often forget that the true cost of storage is much more than the disk alone. Additional overheads, such as personnel, training and storage management systems, make up around 75 per cent of the total cost. Altogether, saving a single terabyte of disk space through archiving could reduce your storage costs by as much as £150,000.
Even if you do buy more disk capacity, it won’t necessarily solve the whole problem. Large SAP databases could take several days to restore in the event of a disaster, which for many organizations is an unacceptable risk. And, if you are already experiencing poor performance, throwing more storage at the problem could actually make it worse. Remember that unless you partition the database over the new disks - and this is only possible with certain database management systems - any disks that you do add will just increase the workload on the CPU, causing more degradation.
Objection 3: "Our end users aren’t experiencing any performance problems so we probably don’t need archiving..."
Don’t wait for end users to notice delays and performance issues. It is far safer to be proactive and undertake an analysis of your database tables to see how archiving can safeguard performance. And do take heed of any early warning signs that your SAP database is approaching its data limits, such as time-outs on queries or slightly slower batch performance. That way you won’t have to experience a loss of employee productivity before taking action.
Objection 4: "If we archive our data then end-users will find it difficult to access it when they need to..."
This is a mistaken assumption. In fact SAP has specifically designed the archiving process to enable archived data to be easily accessed through the live SAP application. So end users won’t even know that the archive data they are accessing is no longer in the live system.
Objection 5: "Our key priority is upgrading our SAP system – we can worry about archiving at a later date..."
It can be tempting to put off SAP archiving if you already have your hands full trying to plan and implement a major upgrade of your SAP software. But making archiving an integral part of your upgrade project will have two key benefits.
Firstly, by reducing the overall size of the database, archiving will offset your need for additional disk storage due to upgrading. That’s important when you consider that each new SAP software release increases storage requirements by anywhere between 5% and 10%, and by as much as 30% if a Unicode conversion is involved.
Secondly, the upgrade runs much more quickly because there is less data to process. That results in shorter upgrade projects, with less production downtime.
Objection 6: "We’ve only been using SAP software for a couple of years – so archiving is something we can leave to the future..."
Most SAP users underestimate the rate of growth of their SAP data. When Macro 4 polled 135 SAP software customers in the UK, Germany and Spain, nearly half said their data was growing faster than they expected. The most practical approach is to implement an archiving strategy from day one. That way archiving is much easier to plan and implement and you keep your database size - and storage costs - under control from the start.
Objection 7: "Archiving is just too time consuming for us to look at right now..."
An SAP archiving expert can quickly and easily perform a database health check to analyse your tables and pinpoint where you will get most benefit from archiving. They can help you create an archiving plan based on a series of ‘quick wins’, ensuring you get the greatest return for your efforts.