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Before organizations can make an effective data management plan, they must first understand how data management is evolving in the era of in-memory systems.

In-memory systems like S/4HANA, unlike other traditional enterprise systems, come with built-in data management capabilities. This is because S/4HANA is designed to run natively on the lightning fast, columnar SAP HANA database. Only with the SAP HANA database is it possible to keep large volumes of data in productive systems so it can be accessed directly, without the need for secondary archive storage. In fact, S/4HANA’s ability to simplify complex IT landscapes with a single, powerful system and database, is a large part of the appeal of the solution. However, this is also why many organizations are not fully considering the impact that an effective data management will have as they plan the move to S/4HANA.

In a presentation at SAP TechED 2015, Robert Wasserman, Sr. Product Manager, SAP Information Lifecycle Management, explained how SAP has been evaluating how data aging can be used to optimize the overall data management for Suite on HANA.

According to SAP: “Moving forward, our data management strategy will be based on two corner stones:

  1. For Suite on HANA our proven and well-established standard Data Archiving is the basis for data management. Customers can finally delete data using information destruction by SAP ILM.

  2. Additionally, Data Aging helps customers optimize storage costs of technical business objects such as IDOCs and Application logs. Data Aging is the standard data management approach for newly developed HANA-based applications like Simple Finance. “

With this in mind, for Business Suite on SAP HANA data aging is only available for selected technical objects. The applications continue to use standard SAP data volume management functions. Data aging is only available for simplified applications in S/4HANA (i.e., Simple Finance). Any applications that have not been simplified will continue to use the standard SAP data volume management strategies including data archiving.

Based on the current SAP announcements and Dolphin’s experience in SAP data management, we can assume the following:

  1. While the concept of data aging is not new, the amount of data being collected in enterprise systems is growing dramatically each year and as new technologies like IoT are adopted, this data growth will continue at an impressive rate. How such large volumes of data, even with data aging, will affect the performance and cost of S/4HANA is not clear.

  2. Naturally, organizations that choose to use a greenfield approach, will leave behind legacy systems, and there is a significant cost to maintain and support those systems annually.

  3. The current S/4HANA business case DOES NOT include the cost of running existing business systems for the next 10 years.

Therefore, part of any S/4HANA planning, must include data sizing that considers both current data volumes and projected data volumes, and the cost of keeping legacy systems operational before the move to S/4HANA.

Certainly data management can play a role before the transition to S/4HANA. Data that is static or business complete can easily be archived to reduce the size of the systems prior to the move to S/4HANA.After the move to S/4HANA, it is possible that data management strategies can be used to decommission legacy systems and control data volume growth in S/4HANA to keep costs of the system low and stable.

Today, with only a small set of SAP users currently on SAP HANA and S/4HANA, the true impact of data management techniques like data aging is still not clear. However, the number of companies having moved or currently moving onto S/4HANA is expected to grow rapidly in the next couple of years, as SAP begins to roll back the early adopter discounts. Understanding how data management is evolving in the era of in-memory systems will be particularly useful for companies as the impact of SAP’s data aging strategy is fully understood over the next few years. This understanding can ensure your organization is prepared to make the best decisions for your business during this critical time period.