If you reached this blog, you are already familiar with the reasons why you need to do a house cleaning on your old applications. If not, this subject has been explored in other discussions, like this one from Claudia Chandra.
All the explanations below are based on Informatica Data Archive for application retirement.
Very often, customers are surprised to know that Informatica’s solution for application retirement can also decommission SAP system. The market has the feeling that SAP is different, or “another beast”. And it really is!
A typical SAP requires software licenses, maintenance contracts, and hardware for the transactional application itself, the corresponding data warehouse and databases, operating systems, server, storage, and any additional software and hardware licenses that you may have on top of the application. Your company may want to retire older versions of the application or consolidate multiple instances in order to save costs. Our engineering group has some very experienced SAP resources, including myself here, with more than 16 years of hands-on work with SAP technology. And we were able to simplify the SAP retirement process in a way that makes the Informatica Data Archive solution decommission SAP as any other type of application.
Next are the steps to decommission an SAP system using Informatica Data Archive.
Let’s start with some facts: SAP has some “special” tables which can only be read by the SAP kernel itself. In a typical SAP ECC 6.0, around 9% of these tables fall in these categories, representing around 6,000 tables.
More specifically, these tables are known as “clusters”, “pools” and I created a third category with transparent tables which have a binary column, or RAW data type, which only SAP application can unravel.
In this step, we will get all the metadata of the SAP system being retired, including all transparent, cluster and pools tables, all columns with data types. This metadata will be kept with the data in the optimized archive.
2) Extraction from source
Informatica Data Archive 6.1.x is able to connect to all database servers certified by SAP, to retrieve rows from the transparent tables.
On the SAP system, it is required to install an ABAP agent, which has the programs developed by Informatica to read all the rows from the special tables and archive files and to pull all the attachments in its original format. These programs are delivered as an SAP transport, which is imported in the SAP system prior to the beginning of the decommissioning process.
Leveraging the Java connector publicly available through the SAP portal (SAPJCo), Informatica Data Archive connects to an SAP application server on the system being decommissioned and make calls to the programs imported though the transport. The tasks are performed using background threads and the process is monitored from the Informatica Data Archive environment, including all the logging, status and monitoring of the whole retirement process happening in the SAP system.
Extraction of table rows in database
Below you can see what all SAP table types are and how our solution deals with it:
|Table type||Table name in SAP
|Table name in the database(Physical table)||How we handle it?|
|Cluster tables||BSEG||RFBLG||The engine reads all the rows from the logical tables by connecting to the SAP application level and store in the archive store as if the table existed in the database as a physical table.The engine also reads all rows of the physical tables and stores as they are, as a policy insurance only, since the data cannot be read without an SAP system up and running|
|Transparent tables with RAW field||PCL2STXL||PCL2STXL||The engine creates a new table in the archive store and read all rows from the original table, but the RAW field is unraveled.The engine reads all rows of the physical tables and store as they are, as a policy insurance only, since the data cannot be read without an SAP system up and running
The engine also reads all rows of the original table PCL2 or STXL and stores as they are, as a policy insurance only, since the data cannot be read without an SAP system up and running
The Informatica Data Archive will extract the data of all tables, independently of their types.
Table rows in archive files
Another source of table rows is the archived data. SAP has its own archiving framework, which is based on a creation of archiving files, also known as ADK files. These files store table rows in an SAP proprietary compacted form, which can only be read by ABAP code running in a SAP system.
Once created, these files are located in the file system and can be stored in an external storage using an ArchiveLink implementation.
The Informatica Data Archive engine also reads the table rows from all ADK files, independent of their location, as long as the files are accessible by the SAP application being retired. These table rows will be stored in the archive store as well, along with the original table.
Very important: After the SAP system is retired, any implementation or ArchiveLink can be retired as well, along with the storage that was holding the ADK files.
Business transactions in SAP systems have the ability to have attachments linked to them. The SAP Generic Object Services (GOS) is a way to upload documents, add notes to a transaction, add URLs relevant to the document, all still referencing a business document, like a purchase order or a financial document. Some other SAP applications, like CRM, have its own mechanism of attaching documents, complementing GOS features.
All these methods can store the attachments in the SAP database, or at SAP Knowledge Provider (KPro) or externally in storages, leveraging an ArchiveLink implementation.
Informatica’s engine is able to download all the attachment files, notes and URLs as discrete files, independent of where they are stored, keeping the relationship to the original business document. The relationship is stored in a table created by Informatica in the archive store, which contains the key of the business document and the link to the attachments, notes and URLs that were assigned to it in the original SAP system.
All these files are stored in the archive store, along with the structured data – or tables.
4) Load into optimized archive
All data and attachments are then loaded into Informatica’s optimized archive,. The archival store will compress the archived data up to 98%
5) Search and data visualization
All structured data are accessible though JDBC/ODBC, as any other relational database. The user has the option to use the search capability that comes with the product, which allows users to run simple queries and view data as business entities.
Another option is to use the integrated reporting, capability within the product, which allows users to create pixel-perfect reports, using drag and drop technology, querying the data using SQL and displaying the data as business entities, which are defined in prebuilt SAP application accelerators. .
Informatica also has a collection of reports for SAP to display data for customers, vendors, general ledger accounts, assets and financial documents.
Some customers prefer to use their own corporate standard 3rd party reporting tool. That is also possible as long as the tool can connect to JDBC/ODBC sources, which is a market standard for connecting to databases.
Hopefully this blog helped you to understand what Informatica Data Archive for Application Retirement does to decommission an SAP system. If you need any further information, please comment below. Thank you.