Seven tips for simplifying SAP data archiving administration

SAP data archiving is a complicated, labor-intensive process. But there are best practices for SAP data archiving to make the administrative task simpler.

SAP data archiving cannot be implemented without significant risk. That is the message of Jim Malfetti, president of Glen Mills, Pa.-based Brandywine Data Management Group, an SAP professional services firm.

But there are ways to simplify the administration of SAP data archiving, said Malfetti, who has been involved in consulting with SAP customers since 1996 and claims to have dedicated much of his career to archiving best practices. Malfetti offers seven tips for simplifying the administration of SAP data archiving.

Tip #1. Don't worry if your SAP data archiving project goes into start/stop mode. Once the archiving maintenance phase is reached, going into start/stop is perfectly normal. This is because of the 12-month time lapse between the end of the archiving execution phase and the beginning of the archiving maintenance phase. During this time, details get lost -- who's responsible, which new procedures and policies need to be created, which new security authorizations are required. A reassessment at this time of whether the right archiving objects are being used is also often required.

Tip #2. There's a law of diminishing returns with selecting new archiving objects. In SAP data archiving, the archiving object is a critical component. The archiving object specifies which data is archived and how; describes which database objects must be handled together as a single business object; and interprets the data regardless of the technical specifications at the time of archiving, such as release and hardware.

There are more than 600 possible SAP archiving objects, Malfetti said. The most he ever witnessed any customer using was 100, and he called that customer's practice "insane."

The law of diminishing returns kicks in after 20 to 25 objects, since 10 to 20 objects address most of the database. He said, however, that new archiving objects can significantly add to your overall SAP database storage savings.

Tip # 3. SAP provides tools to improve archiving effectiveness, but consider adding third-party utilities. Although many SAP archive administrators currently use the SAP Archive Administration (SARA) tool, which provides the overall administration of archiving schedules and managing the archiving sessions, Malfetti recommended a new archiving automation aid from TJC Software Solutions Inc. called Archiving Session Cockpit (ASC). He said that both tools provide the same functions, but "what takes the administrator 100 steps with SARA takes only a few steps with ASC."

Tip # 4. Perform a comprehensive database analysis every six to 12 months. Introducing new archiving objects can yield significant database savings. This is another area where third-party tools are worth evaluating, he said.

Using Transaction TAANA (which stands for Table Analysis: Administration) helps identify the distribution of data within a table. TAANA can also identify the volume of archivable data and any archive file routing requirements.

Malfetti recommends that SAP administrators look into the PBS DB Analyzer Plus tool to help them analyze the capacity commitment of their archiving objects in the database in order to determine their current memory requirements. The tool helps administrators determine how much their database is growing, for which objects archiving makes the most sense, and which module requires most of the disk space.

Tip # 5. When it comes to archiving, consider your entire SAP landscape. BI data can be archived and nearlined. CRM and industry-specific solutions all have archiving functional standards. QA and DEV systems could benefit from PRD archiving after a refresh; they can also be reduced using third-party solutions.

Malfetti noted that any space savings may be mirrored three or four times, so that a reduction of a terabyte in your original database can actually represent a total saving of 4 TB.

Tip #6. Archiving is a prerequisite for deleting expired data. In order to dispose of end-of-life data, "expired data must first be archived," Malfetti said. "There is no magic program to dispose of, for example, everything older than seven years in sales. You need to go through all the steps for archiving" in order to delete the data -- after the seven-year retention period now stipulated.

Malfetti also noted that each archiving object may have multiple variants for a given time frame. So that, while the mandate for keeping U.S. data is seven years, in Italy the retention period is 10 years. This means, he said, that you need two separate files for the data. "Otherwise, if it's in one file, you'll be keeping the U.S. data for 10 years."

Tip #7. To keep an SAP data archiving initiative on schedule requires project management expertise. Malfetti divides the SAP archiving cycle into four phases: archiving development, archiving scheduling, archiving execution, and then ongoing maintenance, and each phase involves a large and diverse team of players. While the primary roles in the first three phases belong to the archive administrator and the storage administrator, significant parts are also played by the project manager, functional analysts, key business users and the Basis administrator. The fact that so many different titles play key parts requires significant coordination to keep the project on schedule.

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