Building a Solid Contingency Plan to Avoid Downtime with SAP
Eliminate the surprises that can trip you up
When it comes to SAP implementation and operations, there are a few surprises that might pop up that CIOs should be aware of so that they can have their teams evaluating and leveraging options to prevent these surprises from becoming big problems.
The first is that managing the lifecycle of SAP test and development systems is a challenge of its own. Creating and refreshing test, development and sandbox systems using production data is an important, but tedious and time-consuming task involving moving copies of data around.It is expensive to create, move, protect and keep multiple copies of the same information. In addition, new SAP applications and technologies like SAP HANA are usually being rolled out on a constant basis, requiring their own test and developments systems to be setup and managed. As a result, something called automated copy management is growing in acceptance with more vendors offering solutions.
“To reduce the risk of data loss and to increase the overall value IT provides in SAP environments, ensure that data is properly secured, managed and protected.”
Essentially this means that instead of creating lots of different copies of data to be used across the SAP environment for less critical tasks likereporting, ad-hoc testing or training for example, a single copy of the data could be presented from a single location without actually creating a full copy of that dataset in another location. After the task is done, such a copy would beshut down for quick and easy disposal.Classic SAP Development and Test systems often require their own copy of data. In this case, automated tools for creation and refreshing of these systems are key.
Test and development landscapes can also take up a lot of disk space and usually need to be protected, so it’s imperative that the data in them is managed efficiently. To do this, only moving and storing changed blocks is a key requirement. Deduplication technologies can help a great deal to minimize backup storage requirements. CIOs should ensure that there is a way to manage tracking and decommissioning of one-off SAP sandbox systems, which were created for specific prototyping, testing or training, making them easy to be forgotten over time and leaving those copies of data needlessly consuming scarce resources. Taking care of this is another aspect of SAP landscape lifecycle management, as forgotten sandbox systems can lead to hidden costs that can add up and be a real surprise.
Running SAP is usually a significant investment, so CIOs should be cognizant of potential hidden and unnecessary costsfrom multiple copies of information. In addition, the SAP investment also requires that a business has anefficient and automated backup and recovery solution in placethat is flexible enough to provide different recovery SLAs based on the value and use of data, can match the scale of SAP and is efficient – both for the data with things like deduplication and compression built in, and for the man hours it takes to manage. Ideally this solution would also support SAP landscape lifecycle management in order to maximize the investment in it and to minimize IT teams’ solution management costs.
Keys to Success
One key to success lies in designing SAP data protection and recovery properly to ensure that downtime is kept to the absolute minimum due to the criticality of these applications. For instance, in terms of business impact, it can make a huge differenceif one is able to recover a mission-critical SAP ERP system in minutes versus hours. Using managed storage array snapshots has increased rapidly as a solution for this because they deliver both fast capture of data to minimize impact to production systems while it occurs and rapid, native format recovery to get back online fast when something goes wrong. At the end of the day, SLAs govern how SAP systems need to be protected and recovered.
While critical SAP production systems require snapshot-based protection, streaming backups might be appropriatefor test, dev and sandbox systems. The data protection and recovery tools in place should therefore support both data protection methods. Don’t forget about disaster recovery (DR) plans as well. Thinking ahead when scoping backup plans to include DR will help ensure a comprehensive plan that eliminates as much complexity as possible. IT infrastructures are dynamic by nature, so the plan should be periodically tested and verified – it’s even better if the solution can automate the testing – to make sure your SLAs will be met.
The SAP environment typically becomes consistently more complex over time. As a result, the way you protect and manage it becomes more important, as the difference between well- and poorly-designed SAP data management can mean the difference between moving a business forward and holding it back. When a new SAP system comes in, it needs to be connected to data protection, landscape lifecycle management and archiving infrastructure. Another key to success to have in place solutions and plans that add these new data and IT assets into the protection scheme with only minimal manual intervention and without having to create scripts and perform other time-consuming and labor-intensive tasks.
Optimizing SAP performance is also important for successful SAP operations.As a result of high data growth, SAP production systems face performance degradation over time, which can easily have a direct impact on the business. Therefore, it is key to have strategies for how, what and where data is retained over time. Having a SAP archiving tool in place for identifying and moving obsolete business data out of the production systems on a regular basis to keep those systems lean and performing well is a key to success.
One more key to success is flexibility. Given the agility of today’s business environments change has become the normal and is no longer the exception. As cloud-based models becomeattractive for more and more companies using SAP, data management tools in use need to support the adoption of various cloud models like storing backup and archive data on cloud storage, moving SAP production systems, or at least dev and test, to the cloud along with running disaster recovery to cloud.
Dodging the Bullets
To reduce the risk of data loss and to increase ITs overall value, ensure that the SAP environment is properly managed and backed up. Make sure that specific needs and requirements of your business and infrastructure are appropriately identified in order to correctly deploy the right data management solution, and when you make projections, consider SAP data and environment growth over the next fiveyears. This solution should not only cover SAP data protection, but also SAP landscape lifecycle management, cloud integration and SAP archiving. Bringing the four disciplines together in one tool offers the most synergies, and it should also include a high level of automation to provide scalable operations, risk reduction and cost efficiency. Finally, combining all of this into an effective strategy means you need to also keep in mind cloud. Evaluate what value cloud-based offerings could bring for your organization in the long term and look for a solution that will support seamless use and migration for any chosen SAP deployment, including on-premise, hybrid and public cloud deployment options.
AParting Piece of Advice to CIOs
The truth of the matter is that SAP HANA is coming your way. Be prepared by ensuring you are looking into what other solutions and strategies you will have to roll out with a HANA implementation – such ascomprehensive data protection including managed snapshots, HANA landscape management, deduplication, cloud integration and more.