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SOA, system consolidation adds to data migration pain

Informatica says it can ease your migration pain, but one SAP expert believes data migration will always be a nuisance.

When a company consolidates instances or migrates off legacy systems, data migration is an issue that can cause costly fixes and missed project deadlines.

The ETL vendors are now getting on the SOA bandwagon and if the apps do not support SOA, what value do these tools offer?
Naeem Hashmi,
chief research officerInformation Frameworks

Most SAP pros think they have a firm grip on their company's data, but often it's too late when they find the opposite is true, according to Tom Osborne, of Informatica, a Redwood City, Calif.-based data integration firm. A project can come in significantly over budget and over its timeline when inconsistent data bogs down a migration.

"The processes that are being built into new SAP implementations are more and more expansive and covering more systems," said Osborne, who manages Informatica's SAP partnerships. "We're seeing a lot of companies making compromises to meet their implementation deadlines."

Informatica, which sells data integration software that enables companies to integrate and consolidate data across a variety of systems, is aligning itself closer to SAP. The company recently announced an agreement with SAP to aid SAP services firms in giving customers best practices and data integration software during the migration process.

More customers are consolidating multiple instances of SAP and many are running into data migration issues, Osborne said.

Data migration issues:

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"A lot of times data conversion in the migration process is not being done correctly and that could cause problems downstream during the implementation," he said.

Other firms offer direct NetWeaver expertise

Data migration is always messy regardless of SOA, ERP or any other integrated business applications, said Naeem Hashmi, chief research officer of Information Frameworks, an IT research and strategic consulting group in Londonderry, N.H.

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Many individual legacy applications use their own data terminology, data types, meta data, codes and master data and when it comes time to eliminate the legacy applications, SAP pros have to deal with the complexity, Hashmi said. There are many different flavors of the same data or many data elements of the same flavor, he said.

"The ETL vendors are now getting on the SOA bandwagon and if the apps do not support SOA, what value do these tools offer?" Hashmi said.

Several vendors have specific expertise with NetWeaver migration projects, Hashmi said.

Wayne, Pa.-based Enetfinity Technologies and New York City-based Information Builders have developed dedicated tools for SAP data migration. The tools provide very specific SAP data migration/load transactions through application programming interfaces (APIs) that do simulation of data loads in R/3 without loading to R/3 to validate the data and the transaction quality.

Informatica is steadily growing its SAP customer base, according to Osborne. SAP last year awarded Informatica's Data Migration Interface (CA-DMI) certification to the vendor's PowerCenter data integration platform. The platform enables SAP firms to conduct large scale data migration projects, consolidate applications in the mySAP Business Suite or upgrade applications.

Osborne said his firm is not competing with SAP's Exchange Infrastructure. SAP XI, which has been gaining momentum among SAP users, is about business process integration, he said. Informatica provides expertise in heavy data transforms, analysis of source systems, data quality and meta data differences, he said.

Informatica is also projecting an increase in data issues, as firms begin moving toward a service-oriented architecture (SOA). While an SOA can increase data flow between multiple systems, it could also cause complications slowing down various SOA projects, according to Osborne.

The top causes of data migration problems:

  • Consolidating multiple instances: Some firms are trying to consolidate hundreds of SAP instances and, in the process, poor data quality is slowing down projects.
  • Outsourcing complexity: As companies outsource some systems, data quality becomes an issue.
  • SOAs: Informatica said SOA introduces some complexities for customers. While Web services allow data to flow between multiple systems, data quality becomes more of an issue.
  • Dig Deeper on SAP and enterprise service oriented architecture

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