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Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) is an aspect of SAP system administration that doesn't get highlighted nearly as much as it should. Through proper ILM techniques a company can theoretically close off an SAP server, leaving it running the bare minimum of services in order for data in that legacy system to still be available. This means that the majority of the SAP system is taken offline while only things like records that deal with current clients or tax information can still be accessed, but no new records can be created and existing records cease to be updated, leading to an eventual phasing out of the system. The downside of this stems from leaving the system running – ideally a shutdown would mean the system is completely offline. As we shall see, there are ways to work around this requirement.

Gradual Removal vs. Shut Down Dynamics

SAP's built in ILM system approaches the life cycle conundrum from the perspective of a consumer that intends to keep his or her legacy system running long after that system has ceased to be useful. In any scenario, this is simply not a viable method of thinking. Businesses may not have the hardware or personnel necessary to keep an old SAP system running, even if that system provides information pertinent to the business and consumes a minimum of resources. Due to this, many companies are looking at alternative methodologies for shutting down legacy systems, and a solution from PBS software allows for more flexibility in shutting down a legacy system completely.

Exploring an Alternative ILM System - PBS

PBS software offers a system that is much different to the one included with SAP. Some may argue that PBS's system is superior simply because it doesn't require a legacy system that is technically "shut down" to keep running. The PBS system also considers that data within the system may be necessary after the legacy system goes offline and caters for it in a unique way. The PBS system has two distinct functioning parts that work in tandem with each other:

  • Content Extractor (ConEx) - ConEx allows for the extraction of existing data on an SAP system in a format that is transparently readable.

  • Enterprise Content Store (ECS) - Basically the ECS contains views that can be used to visualize the data extracted with ConEx, along with powerful filtering and analysis tools.

An additional bonus to using the PBS ILM suite is that even users that are completely unfamiliar with SAP can use the data extracted from this source. An option that can be explored for some companies is keeping some sample data on-hand so that new employees can use it as a practice data set while the familiarize themselves with Hana.

The Scope of PBS ILM

The PBS ILM can be adapted to a lot of different uses and so lends itself to a wide range of companies looking for an ILM end-of-life solution that lets them actually shut their SAP servers down. ConEx can be used to extract data like Z-Tables and ADK archive files (a SAP format) as well, giving the PBS ILM added functionality for companies that have need of this type of extraction. The ECS can then be used to access these files after the legacy system has ceased to function if any data is needed from those records. That’s similar to how VPN apps secure data. Additionally, the ECS also supports the storage of DART files which SAP uses for tax auditing. While data can be stored conventionally from an export, the ECS allows for a more powerful method of examining and interacting with the SAP data.

No Need to be Permanent

A system shut down at the end of its life cycle should not be something that requires a permanent software solution. To this end, the software that PBS offers is on a rental basis. The idea is that once data has been extracted and all records that need to be saved have been saved the company can dispense with paying the monthly fee for rental of the PBS system. This Software-as-a-Service model is perfect for the PBS ILM since it encourages companies to move their data over to their own servers in order to reduce operating costs while at the same time giving businesses a dependable method for saving their SAP data in an export format that can be then used afterwards when the legacy system is no more.
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