1. Problem description
ERP systems have a tendency to grow. Even after a short time, companies often need to expand their system’s storage capacity and increase its computing resources. They’ll have to keep doing so too in order to prevent system queries from business users having a noticeable impact on performance. They may even need to order and purchase additional licenses. Operation and maintenance require more work and are becoming more expensive. Also, companies are finding that updates and upgrades take longer. Overtime hours and weekend work becomes the rule rather than the exception in order to minimize the disruption to business operations and avoid interruptions to production and other areas.
Complex system and application environments with large repositories of legacy data and documents make it more complicated and more expensive for companies to move to the cloud. Many existing SAP customers want to leverage cloud benefits as preparation for the implementation of SAP S/4HANA, whether they’re running their current SAP ECC 6.0 systems on relational databases or on SAP HANA.
Also, environments that have grown significantly get more complex and the data structures that keep changing over time will prevent customers from using the SAP system conversion tools, which themselves require standard SAP. As a result, the transformation and migration to the new SAP generation take longer and become more expensive.
A further problem is that the vicious circle can even continue in the new SAP S/4HANA environment. Constantly increasing data volumes means more and more investment in hardware – memory is still expensive – and more effort in keeping operations running.
This is why ERP and existing SAP customers are looking for solutions to control and limit data growth in their systems. The problem exists in current environments, such as those based on SAP ECC 6.0, as well as future ones based on the new software and database generation from SAP.
ERP and other users who want to reduce the volume of their ERP database from roughly 10 TB to half of that often look for ways to extract and archive the data and documents they no longer need. However, unexpected difficulties then often arise while implementing this project. These include complex interdependencies, which generally prevent a reduction in storage volume of 50 percent or more.
One alternative is to place a new ERP system next to the old one and work with it, while the legacy system continues to operate, albeit with fewer resources. After all, this is the only way to guarantee the legal requirements for access to data and documents.
From a strategic point of view, both of these traditional approaches fall short. Either the data volume in the operating system cannot be reduced to the desired extent or the number of systems keeps increasing. Both cases will mean a disproportionate increase in the staff and financial resources required. If the upgrades and security updates take longer, while downtime affecting all or part of the system hinder or slow down business processes even during ongoing operations.
As well as increasing running costs, this vicious circle hinders key business and technical initiatives. Many companies – especially existing SAP customers – want to prepare for migration to the new SAP software and database generation by moving their SAP ECC 6.0 systems to the public cloud and run them on SAP HANA as well as on relational databases. However, the greater the volume of data and documents to be transferred to the cloud, the higher the amount of work and cost involved.
In addition, the migration to SAP S/4HANA is easier and faster if customers use the SAP system conversion tools for it. This requires customers to return to standard SAP, which limits the number of customers involved as most existing SAP systems have been tailored to each company’s needs. These adaptations will have meant changes to data structures that diverge from SAP standards. In addition, they cannot be changed back for legal reasons during the statutory retention periods. Companies wanting to ease their journey to the new SAP environment – by using the system conversion tools on their entire repository of legacy information – will find the exercise extremely difficult, if not impossible.
Even worse: the pool of legacy information, along with the continuing growth in the volume of data and documents, will be a burden on the agility of the future SAP S/4HANA environments – to say nothing of the constantly increasing investment and operating costs.
The one really suitable solution to this challenge is called rightsizing. The idea is to extract all data and documents from the legacy ERP system before deleting the database entries that are no longer required for the live systems.
It is crucial that the extracted information is stored together with its business context on a neutral, central and modern platform. This allows them to be searched independently of the original system and displayed in the web browser. To comply with legal requirements, this kind of platform must also be able to manage the entire lifecycle of historical data and documents up to their controlled and definitive deletion. This is why it should also include retention management functionalities.
The Java-based Information Management Platform JiVS IMP is exactly this type of solution. It is certified by auditors, so that the data and documents can be stored permanently without the original system and still meet all legal requirements.
This makes it possible to reduce the volume of data in ERP systems from a business point of view rather than a technical one. As a result, the volume of historical information can be reduced by between 80 and 95 percent. The data and documents that remain on the operating system can be edited and changed in future without the risk of problems with internal or external auditors. They are all stored in JiVS IMP in a tamper-proof manner and are still fully available in read-only mode.
For rightsizing projects, JiVS IMP also acts as a central collection and provisioning point, known as a data staging area, for company information. Companies can create analyses of the information pool’s reduction potential and define the filter rules for reduction. Once the project is complete, JiVS IMP provides legally compliant access to the information regardless of the device type, time and location. It also subjects the legacy information to end-to-end retention management for the seamless management of the historical data and documents’ lifecycle.
Customers can implement JiVS IMP in their own datacenter or in the public cloud. Supported environments include Amazon Web Services, the Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure. At the same time, customers can choose from a variety of popular database management systems (DBMS), from IBM Db2 to Oracle Database and Microsoft SQL Server to SAP IQ.
5. Customer benefits
The greatest benefit of this approach for ERP users and existing SAP customers is massive cost savings. JiVS IMP enables them to move 80 to 95 percent of their historical data out of the legacy systems. These can then be shut down and decommissioned, which usually allows companies to save 80 percent or more in operating costs compared to keeping the old systems running.
A huge reduction in legacy information volumes simplifies and accelerates the move to the cloud while making it significantly cheaper – especially for existing SAP customers. And it makes no difference whether they’re using relational databases or SAP HANA to run their systems. Either way, this approach gives them a dramatic reduction in the migration, investment and operational resources required.
Rightsizing based on JiVS IMP is also the perfect means for preparing migration and transformation projects for a move to new software and database generations. The less legacy information to be transferred to the new environment, the lower the overall migration workload. Generally speaking, this workload can be halved with the help of JiVS IMP.
This 50 percent reduction is made possible by the platform’s high level of automation. Its support for more than 2000 business objects enables customers to transfer 100 percent of the historical data and documents from their legacy systems to JiVS IMP at the touch of a button, in most cases with no prior project-specific work. Once this is done, customers can define the filter and transformation rules for the tiny fraction of data and documents that need to be transferred to the new operational systems. Once the filter rules have been tested and are working correctly, the next step is the definitive transfer of the information from the legacy systems, including any new data and documents that have appeared since the first transfer.
Next, JiVS IMP passes what is now a far smaller part of the data, based on the predefined and tested rules, to the customer’s preferred migration and transformation tool, whether it comes from SAP, DMI or a third-party provider.
One of these is the SAP system conversion tools. Many SAP customers want to use the implementation of SAP S/4HANA as a way to go back to the SAP standard. But that road is rocky and perhaps even impossible, given that all the historical information would need to be converted. JiVS IMP removes these obstacles in that historical information that deviates from the SAP standard can simply be moved to the platform without needing to be imported into the new environment. That significantly increases the proportion of SAP customers who can use the SAP system conversion tools for their data transformation and migration.
As an integral part of the destination architecture, JiVS IMP plays its strategic role to the fullest extent in the operational phase. JiVS IMP enables companies to avoid many problems right from the outset that are often typical of existing ERP environments, such as the ever-increasing need for resources. This is solved by regularly moving data and documents to JiVS IMP once they are no longer required for day-to-day business.
This is a specific scenario for which JiVS IMP offers existing SAP customers integration on the business object level. It enables changes to business objects in live systems like SAP S/4HANA and SAP C/4HANA, along with the associated changes to the data structure, to be automatically synchronized in JiVS IMP. As a result, data and documents from the operational systems can be continually transferred without generating additional project cost or effort. The application’s interface is the second integration level. From within the SAP GUI or SAP Fiori, SAP users can directly search for and view information in the operational systems as well as in JiVS IMP. In the case of the historical information, it is displayed exclusively in read-only mode.
Using JiVS IMP enables customers to turn the rightsizing of ERP systems and SAP environments – both the current and future ones – into a normal work routine in IT as well as in general risk management.
6. Price and availability
JiVS IMP is available now. The functional scope and pricing are defined on a project-specific basis. Customers can choose to subscribe to the platform’s functionality as a service, enabling them to transfer capital expenditure (CAPEX) to operating expenditure (OPEX).