May 23, 2021
February 11, 2021
Clearly all businesses require data archiving. Anyone responsible for archiving projects knows how daunting they can be. Whether part of a divestiture/carve-out, a landscape decommissioning, or a simple database reduction prior to migration to S/4, myriad roadblocks, both functional and technical, can stall the project.
Common functional roadblocks include:
Common technical roadblocks include:
While this is not a complete list, it’s a good place to start. In this article, we will review some of these items in more detail with alternative, possible solutions for some of them, and recommendations on overcoming the more difficult issues. We list “getting archived data into applications” as both a functional and technical issue as functional users need their data but it’s a technical issue to do so and keep the report running efficiently. For a more complete list of roadblocks and strategies for overcoming them, visit our website for the full article.
An archiving project that doesn’t archive the intended data is a failure
We believe “archival of intended data” should always be one primary success metric. Many Archive Objects (AO) have business-completion criteria such as residence time not met, items not cleared, and receipts not matched that can prevent a transaction from archiving. Whatever the reason, several mechanisms exist by which you can modify this default behavior or enhance and extend the archiving checks.
The first and best approach is to use whatever SAP standard configuration is available within your target AO to achieve your desired behavior. For example, in SD you can modify the minimum archivable status of shipments so they can be archived at different points within their business process; or material-specific JE’s can have longer residence times. Many AOs also allow use of creation date vs. last change date during calculation of their residence time.
The next best option is to implement SAP user exits and enhancement points to add custom ABAP code into the process at predefined locations. This hybrid standard-custom solution is recommended only for experienced archivists and solution architects as it can yield varying results with different levels of support from SAP in the event of a post-archiving data integrity issue.
At Paschke Consulting (PCI), we also employ a set of custom solutions that create Object-specific custom archiving variants and optional force-close processing that address many of the issues that can’t be addressed via config or coding. First, we analyze all the tables in each AO to find the transactions in the system that meet our criteria. Then, the solution builds archiving variants for those AOs and runs standard archiving using these enhanced variants. This guarantees that we archive only what’s intended, all using fully-supported, SAP standard archiving.
Archived data that’s inaccessible to the business users is a failure
Archiving the right data is only half the battle. We must then provide access to that archived data to any and all the critical business processes that need it in order to work correctly. One archiving axiom is that if archiving breaks any critical business processes then that project is a failure. Below, we’ll review several options for archive-enabling and we’ll show our proprietary approach for archive-enabling without breaking any current processes.
SAP’s standard mechanism for indexing archived data is Archive Infostructures (AIS) in Tcode SARJ. This is a fairly robust and flexible solution and, most importantly, it’s free. However, it requires a good deal of coding that can be difficult to do and a great deal of experience to keep that code performant. There are also third-party solutions that facilitate access to archived data for many standard objects that are more complete but these are usually quite expensive.
Another approach to indexing archived data involves archiving to Nearline Storage (NLS) or other columnar database where the data is the index, but this is usually much more expensive and complex. Another archiving-related axiom is to always tie the value of the data to the cost of the medium on which it is stored. While we also support the NLS option, we do so cautiously unless data volumes support it or there are already on S/4HANA with short residence times. For more information on this, please visit our website or call.
Any business processes that require archived data for successful processing might include standard and custom Tcodes and programs, ABAP queries, Report Groups / Report Writers, and others. Each process needs to be analyzed, and may need to be updated, in order to read both archived and database data back into the application in a predictable way. This is generally referred to as archive-enabling custom reports.
Archive-enabling custom applications is essential to filling the gaps between archiving the data and providing seamless access to that data. This is the second major hurdle. Simply coding access to the archives is fairly rote for simple applications with single-record access. However, archive-enabling more complex applications with high-volume data requirements and keeping them extremely performant is more difficult and requires:
These four points are our differentiators in archive-enabling. Implementing the first three items over 20 years is what has led us to codify the solution set in the form of several Function Modules that accept a minimum of input and/or a wide range of inputs based on a program’s complexity, determine the best index to use, and then also provide all the return values from one or many tables in an extremely efficient manner.
Implicit hashing scheme in archive metadata - this is the most recent addition to our exclusive solution set. Based on our consistent method of defining AIS infostructures and the method of archiving execution, the archive metadata yields an implicit hashing scheme, i.e., a predictable method by which we reduce archive data access time by up to 90%. By leveraging this info already present in the metadata, our unique hashing scheme reduces development time and, at the same time, guarantees speedy reports.
Some firms are afraid to explain their processes for fear of losing business. At PCI, we will always explain and train our customers in our solutions, as we’ve found that once they understand this value-add, they become comfortable with our providing their solution in a very cost-effective, time-efficient manner.
In summary, while we specialize in data archiving, we’ve also been archive-enabling custom applications for over 20 years. In that time, we’ve created a proprietary interface that retrieves archived data from wherever it’s stored back into custom applications performantly, ensuring archiving projects are successful.
We stand ready to help you on your journey
If you’ve tried archiving in the past or are starting fresh, visit our website or email us today and we’ll provide you a customized Summary Archiving Strategy Document within one day. There is no software to install, and no cost to you.
We’d be happy to set up a time to chat and discuss your challenges and what alternatives are available to you.
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