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Research finds runaway data growth poses risk for SAP software users

Friday December 11 2009

New European research indicates that SAP software users are risking system downtime by hanging on to large volumes of historical information.  

New European research indicates that SAP software users are risking system downtime by hanging on to large volumes of historical information.

 

Some 45% of SAP software users admit their data is growing faster than expected and 69% complained that their main worry about keeping large volumes of data in their SAP database is the time it takes to back up and protect their system, according to a new survey by SAP archiving expert Macro 4.

 

"We've come across organisations whose SAP databases have grown so large that backups take over 15 hours, making them difficult to schedule without disrupting productivity," explained Lynda Kershaw, Marketing Manager at Macro 4, which surveyed 135 SAP users in UK, France and Spain.

 

"More importantly, data restores take much longer than backups and we've spoken to users with large databases who know it would take them several days to get their core business systems up and available again in the event of failure. The impact on sales and productivity could be catastrophic, especially for businesses that operate 24-hours a day, such as an online retailers.

 

"Some people falsely assume that if they're mirroring their data at a secondary site, they'll always get the system back instantly. But any corruption to data at the main site will just be mirrored to the second location, so on many occasions you're still left with lengthy downtime as you try to restore large volumes of data from backup," added Kershaw.

 

Other negative effects of running larger SAP databases include the software responding more slowly and disrupting end user productivity, mentioned by 55 per cent of the survey. 47% of respondents were concerned about greater storage hardware requirements and 35% identified slower batch performance.

 

The research indicates that a big part of the problem is older information which is seldom accessed. Almost two thirds (67%) of respondents admitted that static, historical data makes up a significant proportion of their SAP data, but only 43% said they archive this inactive data off the system. In the UK and Spain archiving use was even lower - 36 and 31% respectively.

 

Archiving can take historical data away from the main SAP database so that it no longer impacts on system resources or clogs up the backup and restore process. Storage costs are reduced because older data is removed from expensive hard disk storage and placed on lower cost online media where it is held in compliance with industry regulations and remains accessible.

 

"It's not just the cost of hard disk space that you'll save by moving data to less costly storage hardware, but the cost of managing the hard disk. IT industry analyst firm Gartner estimates that the storage administration costs for managing one terabyte of hard disk space are five to seven times higher than the cost of the hard disk itself," explained Kershaw from Macro 4, which works with SAP software users to manage their data.

 

Another point that Macro 4 was keen to emphasise is that data moved into an SAP archive is just as accessible as if it were still live within the system:

 

"The archiving process is completely transparent to the end user and most people would notice no difference whether they were calling up something from the archive or from the live environment," said Kershaw

 

Nick Parkin, technical director at specialist SAP data archiving consultancy, Proceed, pointed out that archiving is a sensible strategy for the many companies who are currently contemplating upgrading to the latest version of SAP's software, SAP ERP 6.0: "Many organisations find that the large volumes of data involved can mean it takes several days to implement upgrades, making them a nightmare to schedule - most firms can't afford to be without their SAP system for such a long time. So it makes sense to archive the bulk of your historical information before you upgrade. You'll have less data to migrate, making the upgrade faster and less complex. Generally we find that upgrades often run a third faster after archiving so that disruption can be minimised."

 

For organisations that are wondering if archiving would benefit them, Parkin suggested they look at their batch performance times: "If you're holding too much data in your SAP database, slower batch performance and timeouts on queries are among the first things you'll notice. Over time if you don't address the issue, things will get worse and you'll get end users finding the system running slowly and potentially even bigger problems such as crashes and downtime," he said.

 

Macro 4 is providing a free health check to analyse users' databases and identify archiving possibilities. For further information email market@macro4.com

 

www.macro4.com