This optical archive, though, is separate from the database archive. A torrent of daily transactions hits the SAP system. These documents are retired from the production database and archived at regular intervals depending on the type of data and legal requirements.
Deliveries, for example, are archived after an 18-month retention period. The system is configured to detect such files on a weekly basis and send them to the archive. Financials, on the other hand, are not automated. Cuda notes that the year-end close out happens at different times and it is wise to wait for financial OK before doing any year-end archiving.
When the project was completed, the results were significant. Cuda reports transactions that used to take six seconds now take one second. The company saved an estimated $700,000 annually in terms of avoided hardware acquisition costs alone. The database is maintained at 2 TB, with another TB residing in rapid access archives.
This happy ending, however, was no overnight success. Cuda admits to considerable struggles during the project. These only vanished once he made some major changes to project management. Initially, he took a technology view if archiving, thinking if he could just find the right tool, all would be well. When this approach ran aground badly, he realized it needed a whole different methodology in terms of understanding the business and legal side thoroughly and THEN finding technology or adapting technology to meet those needs.
As part of the process, he managed to eliminate much of the implementation complexity by laboriously plotting out all 223 data objects within his SAP database. This showed him the dependencies that existed among data types and highlighted exactly how to retire things so as to minimize risk. Thus policies could be correctly set for archive automation.
For example, invoices should not be archived until the corresponding shipping and delivery documentation denoted a closed transaction.
"SAP has mechanism's built in that prevent retirement of open transactions," said Cuda. "So it makes good sense to use diagrams to map out data interdependencies and plot the optimum archiving path."
Cuda advises others to opt for the easy pickings in any archiving project rather than a big bang. Financial documents, for example, often have no dependencies. By finding these low- or no-dependency records, you can implement the archiving of a segment of the database without wreaking havoc across the system.
"Attacking such low-hanging fruit not only gives you significant data recovery," advised Cuda, "it also gives your team a sense of victory, and highlights to management and users that archiving is beneficial to the system."