Databases are a trouble spot in a system landscape. If there is insufficient space in them, the applications may even cease to function, in a worst case scenario. One important task that falls to database administrators is therefore to check the data volume, its growth, and the size of individual objects at regular intervals. Complex databases also generate high operating costs, which can be reduced if the stored data is optimized. The SAP Data Management and SAP Data Archiving Optimization services support companies in doing just this.
Reducing data volumes
It is in the nature of things that the amount of information stored in databases will grow over the years. However, the administrative effort involved increases as the database gets larger. SAP Data Management can provide support in this respect. In this service, SAP experts first analyze the largest tables in the database, as these contain the most data. Based on this analysis, they then make recommendations in four areas:
- Avoiding data: Here it is necessary to determine unnecessary data, and deactivate the functions via which this data was collected.
- Aggregating data: Data that can be compressed is identified and aggregated.
- Deleting data: Data that is no longer required must be deleted using special methods, such as transactions, reports, or the installation of notes.
- Archiving data: The specialists pinpoint areas in which data can be archived, and provide an overview of archiving that has already been carried out in the enterprise.
The SAP experts carry out SAP Data Management via a remote connection, or on site at the customer’s premises. The service creates valuable free space and therefore reduces the workload for database administration. In addition, the investment in new hardware can be reduced. The Brazilian confectioners Chocolates Caroto is one of the companies that has profited from this service, as Alexandre Mercadante Cidri, IT Infrastructure Coordinator of the company, explains: “We benefited from the fact that a team from SAP Global Active Support implemented the SAP Data Management Service in our company. As a result, we have considerably reduced the size and growth rate of our database.” As experiences from other projects show, SAP Data Management offers a potential improvement of 25 % on average.
Archiving correctly, saving memory space
Even when all the options for avoiding and aggregating data have been fully exploited, and the database is organized in the most efficient way, the database can only be kept to an acceptable size in the long term with a well conceived archiving concept. This must be tailored to the individual requirements of the particular company, and must be “lived” in practice. The SAP Data Archiving Optimization Service supports companies in developing suitable archiving strategies. Two different versions are available:
- Assessment Version: If the company already has an archiving strategy, the SAP experts analyze this together with the employees responsible, and locate areas for potential improvement.
- Empowering Version: If the company does not yet have any experience in the field of data archiving, the primary aim is to create a comprehensive archiving concept, to make employees aware of archiving and data analysis issues, and to provide them with training in this area.
SAP Data Archiving Optimization always begins with an analysis of the data via remote connection. In this process, the SAP specialists look at the largest tables in the system in question and the associated header and item tables, in order to determine where there is archiving potential. This could include, for example, FI data from relatively old fiscal years, or processes that have been completed in full. The experts also check whether the housekeeping – that is, the routine tasks for system operation, such as the deletion of files, directories or reports that are no longer required – is carried out correctly. In this way, they can often achieve great successes (“quick wins”) with relatively little effort.
The results of this initial analysis form the basis for proposed solutions, which the team of specialists draws up via remote connection or within workshops. An important factor here is that both the SAP specialists and the customer assess the extent to which the proposed solutions are feasible. This is the only way to create a concept that the company can implement with its existing resources, and that brings the maximum benefit. The aim of the service is to ensure that the responsible employees are able to adapt the archiving strategy to new requirements independently in the future.
Migrating and converting archives
If considerable restructuring is carried out to databases in production systems, for example if the chart of accounts is converted, the changes should also be made in the archiving runs. This prevents inconsistencies between the archive and database, which can lead to the archived data being displayed incorrectly, among other things. SAP also offers a number of services for these types of changes to production systems and archives. These services are provided by the System Landscape Optimization (SLO) team, which offers one-stop migration and conversion solutions. SLO offers archive migration and archive conversion services to support changes to archives.
The aim of archive migration is to make the data archived in one system available in another system. For this to be possible, it is necessary to transfer the administration data for the archiving runs and then the archive data itself from the source system to the target system. It therefore makes sense to carry out an archive migration after production systems have been merged or if clients or company codes are moved to a new system, for example.
After a database has been converted in an SLO project, it is necessary to adjust the archiving runs to ensure consistency. This is done in archive conversion, and guarantees that the data can continue to be displayed and evaluated from the archive without error. To this end, System Landscape Optimization uses a special conversion method, which is also used in the production environment of many SLO projects. In it, the changes are first carried out directly at database level using specially generated programs. These programs are then used to convert the archiving runs. The advantage of the method is that all data, including the history, can be converted, and after conversion the system looks as though it has always functioned in the new form. This is not possible via traditional methods such as batch input, because here it is generally only possible to work on the basis of a key date, and many changes cannot be made.
The customer’s requirements determine the procedure
SAP Data Management is recommended in particular if the database is larger than 200 GB and grows by an average of 10 GB or more. If the analysis of the data shows that a new or improved archiving strategy would keep the database to a manageable size in the long term, it makes sense to use the SAP Data Archiving Optimization Service as well.
The customer’s requirements and the size of the database are the deciding factors in whether the management and archiving systems work effectively with the conversion project. If a conversion project is to be carried out for a relatively small database, it is advisable to carry out archiving once the project has been completed in the production system. In this way, the new structures are included in the archive, and as a result, the archive does not need to be converted. In very large databases, on the other hand, an acceptable runtime for data conversion in the production system can usually only be achieved if archiving is carried out first. The archive is then converted in a separate sub-project, after the new structures are in use in the production system.
However, most projects fall somewhere between these two extremes. In individual cases it is necessary to ascertain whether SAP Data Management or other project-specific measures are required to optimize performance before conversion, in order to minimize the runtime for conversion. SAP’s experiences in numerous conversion projects, combined with special tools for estimating runtime, help to lay down guidelines before most projects start.
For further information on SAP’s optimization services, see the SAP Service at www.service.sap.com/slo and www.service.sap.com/smo.