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We asked users of SAP applications who attended a data management seminar and workshop we staged recently about the key drivers that are fueling their interest in this area.  Here’s what they said:

Performance optimization (30 per cent)

Perhaps it’s not surprising that performance optimization was mentioned by a third of attendees - receiving the most ‘votes’. After all, maintaining strong performance is essential for productivity.

It is a good policy to limit the build up of data within the SAP database to ensure you deliver efficient batch and end user response times.  Of course you can’t simply delete older data from the database; while much of it may be inactive, it may need to remain accessible for compliance purposes or for operational reasons such as customer service.  That is why many users of SAP solutions are beginning to turn to archiving to manage database growth and keep performance levels up.

 Rising storage costs (18 per cent)

It goes without saying that letting your data pile up is going to increase your storage costs. This includes the hardware bills, as well as the costs of storage management systems and people.  In fact, the price of hard disk typically represents only around 23% of total storage costs, according to analyst Gartner.

With archiving you can limit storage costs because older, inactive business complete data – that does not have to be frequently accessed – is removed from expensive disk storage systems and placed on less expensive disk, where it stays accessible through the SAP application. By taking data off the live system, you reduce the storage management and administration burden, as well as cutting hardware costs.

Compliance issues (18 per cent)

Nobody should be surprised to learn that compliance issues are driving data and document management decisions.  Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) technology from SAP is designed with compliance in mind. SAP NetWeaver® Information Lifecycle Management provides tools and technologies to meet the needs for information retention, destruction, and compliance in line with legal and regulatory mandates. One of its key benefits is that it supports legal compliance in the area of information retention.

Another of its features makes it possible to preserve records related to a current legal case by collecting and placing the records on hold during the course of the legal action.  

Impending upgrades (12 per cent)

If you’re planning to upgrade your SAP software it is wise to run an archiving project first. If you’ve got large volumes of data in the database, it increases the time required to complete an upgrade.  Upgrades can be difficult to schedule because most companies can’t afford to be without their SAP system for very long. By archiving 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 run a third faster after archiving, which keeps system downtime to a minimum.

Increasing backup timescales (5 per cent)

Obviously the more data you have in the database, the longer it takes to back it up – and the more resources and administrator time the backup process eats up.  We’ve spoken to customers who admit it would take over 24 hours to back up all their live data – something they can’t do without disrupting operations.  So it makes very good sense to keep backup cycles manageable by using archiving to restrict the growth of the database.

 Maintaining high levels of system availability (17 per cent)

As well as making backup windows shorter, keeping your database lean allows you to recover quickly from a failure requiring a database restore.  Because restores take much longer than backups, if it takes you a day to back up your data, there’s a risk of even longer down time if you’re hit by an IT disaster.  The financial consequences of extended production downtime could be severe, especially for the increasing number of businesses that operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.