Managing storage for your SAP systems

Information management can be a challenge, and in your SAP systems, failing to maintain an effective solution can result in higher costs and lower productivity. This article presents a number of options for SAP storage management.

Since the Internet boom, corporations have generated and processed exponentially more digital information involved

in conducting business. Managing that information can be a challenge, and in your SAP systems, failing to maintain an effective solution can result in higher costs and lower productivity.

You have a number of options when it comes to solving the SAP storage management dilemma. SAP's own storage solution is typically to store information in the R/3 data repository, which can be catalogued and backed up by time period, explains Bill McSpadden of North Billerica, MA-based Plant-Wide Research. Many SAP customers have more than one instance of R/3, and the R/3 instances are often customized. This requires careful maintenance of the information to keep it retrievable.

"SAP allows and provides for online real time information storage and retrieval," McSpadden says. "Then SAP leaves the more complex information storage solutions to those specialists in the field that support SAP."

There are a number of solutions on the market that help corporations tackle the SAP storage problem. Veritas Software Corporation, IBM and EMC are a few companies with leading SAP storage management solutions. Veritas offers a number of high availability and backup solutions, and EMC also offers a suite of SAP-specific storage management tools.

For companies with complex storage requirements, it can sometimes make more sense to consider outsourcing. Most of the time, companies will achieve higher efficiency through seeking outside help from an applications hosting partner, as Eric Nichols, CIO of Solutia, Inc. in St. Louis, MO found out.

"We were hosting our own SAP environment," says Nichols. "It was clunky with a bunch of servers, and we weren't getting any leverage across the development and production environments."

Nichols turned to Plano, TX-based EDS to solve Solutia's problem. In the process, Solutia consolidated its servers and turned over the management to EDS. Nichols estimates Solutia saved millions of dollars per year and achieved ROI in less than a year. In addition, Solutia's SAP environment gained better hardware and more intelligent storage on the back end. In short, the company now operates with the right servers for the job, says Nichols.

"It's not something you want to build a core competency around," advises Nichols, for other IT managers trying to improve efficiency. In turning to EDS, "We know for a fact that we were improving management."

In addition to EDS, some other companies on the market that handle outsourced SAP storage are IBM, BlueStar Solutions, Inc. of Cupertino, CA and Qwest CyberSolutions in Denver, CO. SAP also offers some SAP hosting, as explained at www.saphosting.com.

If you are considering an outside application hosting provider for your storage needs, the transition will be a lot smoother if you put in some preparation time. Nichols says Solutia's transition took a mere 36 hours and was accomplished over one weekend.

"Prior to moving, we at Solutia had been archiving aggressively for two years," he says. "My advice is to get your legacy environment as clean as possible before you're ready to hand over the keys."

Whether you manage your corporate SAP storage databases onsite or through an applications hosting company, it is definitely a good idea to have your storage ducks in a row. Your corporation has too much to lose. Spend a little time and money now on your storage solution. It will almost certainly pay off in the long run.



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