Now more than ever.. Archiving in SAP makes sense

21 Jan Now more than ever.. Archiving in SAP makes sense

NateCrawford Nate Crawford

In this article, I review some high-level considerations related to archiving SAP data to a Hadoop file system.

Archiving in SAP makes sense with the newly added ability to connect the SAP archiving process to Hadoop.  Hadoop or HDFS (“hadoop distributed file system”) is an open-source platform. This file system can reliably store extremely large data sets within a cluster. Then stream that data back and forth to the user applications using massively parallel processing.

Recently, SAP has enabled the connectivity to Hadoop. This gives SAP clients the ability to offload data deemed “archivable” to this lower-cost storage medium.  By all measures, Hadoop offers a much lower cost of ownership when compared to a traditional SAN (Storage Area Network), however, implementing Hadoop is not without its own challenges.  Hadoop administration requires specific expertise that may not be present within many organizations. For seasoned storage administrators, the learning curve is not steep. However, to successfully implement Hadoop don’t underestimate the skills needed.

Here are my thoughts on what it takes to successfully start down the archiving road.

#1 – Senior Leadership Support

Whether your company chooses to use Hadoop or not, the first step is to get full support from senior leadership.  This is because, without senior-level stakeholders, any attempt to prioritize and execute an archiving strategy is at risk. Other projects and initiatives will come along, but the core team members need to focus on the archiving project and keep it as a top priority.

#2 – Identify Team and Archiving Lead

Next, identify the archiving team.  Members of the core team should include Basis, Security, Hadoop (or SAN) administrator, a project manager, archiving lead, functional team experts and their managers.  

Then, designate an archiving lead or point person.  This person will be responsible for configuration steps. They will also facilitate testing during the early phases of the project.  A good background for this person is either someone working in the functional areas as a technical liaison or someone with Basis experience.   This role requires a mix of functional and technical aptitude. Later when the solution is in production, the archiving lead will be responsible for configuring the production jobs and monitoring logs for any issues.

Before proceeding, consider adopting an Agile methodology.  This includes routine updates across the team and agreed upon deliverables in 2 to 3-week increments. This methodology will help keep the core team engaged and the work on track.  If your firm doesn’t currently use the Agile methodology and you’re interested in learning how to start, please contact us. We have helped several local companies introduce Agile to their project teams without causing disruption or delaying corporate objectives.

#3 – Work with Basis to Identify Tables

The next step is to work with Basis to determine the areas that need attention in your system.  Basis can usually use solution manager reports to locate the problem areas within the system. Next, isolate tables that consume the biggest storage footprint and identify the tables within the system that need to be cleaned up or archived. Then, determine if they contain data that can be purged without archiving.  In some cases,  SAP supplied programs can prune the data in a safe and efficient manner. (examples – Idocs and system log data)

Next, identify these three pieces of information for the tables that need to be archived.

  • How should we prioritize these tables?
  • What archiving object(s) from SAP can be configured for these tables?
  • What is the retention requirement for your company related to this data?

#4 – Testing

As you start a plan to purge and archive, determine the environment with data present to use for testing.  If there isn’t a suitable environment, can you restore some production data into a sandbox system for unit testing?

If your plan includes the archiving of FI data, first check with the legal team and tax experts at your firm to determine what DaRT jobs should be configured and run first.   DaRT is the SAP Data Retention Tool. Its purpose is to generate extracts for easy access during an audit in your company file system. Most likely there will be some tax or legal functional experts already familiar with the DaRT tool within your company.

#5- Naming Conventions

Finally, work with your Hadoop (or SAN) administrator and Basis expert to agree upon a naming convention and storage topology.  It’s always a good idea to have an intuitive topology when storing your archiving files. 

When all of these initial items are sorted out, you’re ready to begin the next phase.

One of the biggest keys to a successful archive is focused participation from your functional experts.  Also, establishing an extensive testing strategy with clear scenarios is crucial. There will be decisions that need to be made along the way due to custom configuration that may exist within your system.  Having clear lines of sight on this testing for your functional management and open communication with senior leadership will be necessary.  

The details around the actual configuration and how to troubleshoot issues is a moving target as SAP is adding more options and OSS notes to this area on a regular basis.  If you are interested in starting an archiving initiative, please reach out to us at Phoenix Endeavors. 


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