Just a few short years ago, the thought of building a reliable data archiving infrastructure for an SAP enterprise system would send chills down the spine of any data administrator. Today, storage technology, software enhancements and third-party products have taken much of the worry away.
But implementing an archiving SAP infrastructure is far from a plug-and-play process. SAP administrators will have to do some significant groundwork before moving one bit of data. Specific considerations include:
- Data archival policies: How long must the data be retained before deletion?
- Active data access: What determines whether the data is current and must be kept live?
- Compliance: What legislative requirements are driving an archiving methodology?
- Storage architecture: How is storage architected in the enterprise, what growth plans are in place and how are data silos defined?
- Business continuity: What business continuity and disaster recovery solutions are in place and how will those processes be affected by an archival system?
- Data ownership: Are data silos owned departmentally, by business units, across the enterprise or by the IT department?
- Security: How is data protected against unauthorized access? Will archives fall under the same guidelines and technologies?
- Evolution: How will archived data be managed if a major system upgrade occurs? Will old data files, tables and indexes be converted to work with the latest software? Will applications be retired in an active mode to work with archived datasets?
- Frequency: Will the archive process be active or will it be scheduled to happen at predetermined times, such as daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly?
- Archival storage medium: Will storage be tape, optical, magnetic disk, removable media or library based?
- Management: Who will be responsible for maintaining archives, validating viability and protecting the data?
- Location: Will the archive be stored on-site at the data center, off-site at a backup location or moved to cold storage elsewhere?
- Access: What level of access to the archive is needed? How quickly must archived data be made live? What support resources are dedicated to returning archive data to an active state?
Those questions will most likely create additional questions, and all must be answered before selecting an archive methodology, as well as the technology to build an SAP archival solution.
What's more, the definition and exploration process will require input from more than just the IT department. Other departments, such as legal, facilities and operations, may need to be involved in the process; and, of course, those providing budget to build the system will have to be informed of the needs, as well as the ROI and TCO of an archival system.
For most, the first step is a plan. That plan should cover costs, benefits and requirements and should be used as a template to vet solutions that meet both business goals and IT department needs. One common mistake made during the process is forgetting to include manpower and associated costs, such as training, recruiting and reassignment of personnel.
About the Author: Frank J. Ohlhorst, CNE, MCP, L+, N+, A+, is an award winning technology journalist, professional speaker and IT business consultant with more than 25 years of experience in the technology arena.