Category Archives: Application Retirement
That tag line got your attention – did it not? Last week I talked about how companies are trying to squeeze more value out of their asset data (e.g. equipment of any kind) and the systems that house it. I also highlighted the fact that IT departments in many companies with physical asset-heavy business models have tried (and often failed) to create a consistent view of asset data in a new ERP or data warehouse application. These environments are neither equipped to deal with all life cycle aspects of asset information, nor are they fixing the root of the data problem in the sources, i.e. where the stuff is and what it look like. It is like a teenager whose parents have spent thousands of dollars on buying him the latest garments but he always wears the same three outfits because he cannot find the other ones in the pile he hoardes under her bed. And now they bought him a smart phone to fix it. So before you buy him the next black designer shirt, maybe it would be good to find out how many of the same designer shirts he already has, what state they are in and where they are.
Recently, I had the chance to work on a like problem with a large overseas oil & gas company and a North American utility. Both are by definition asset heavy, very conservative in their business practices, highly regulated, very much dependent on outside market forces such as the oil price and geographically very dispersed; and thus, by default a classic system integration spaghetti dish.
My challenge was to find out where the biggest opportunities were in terms of harnessing data for financial benefit.
The initial sense in oil & gas was that most of the financial opportunity hidden in asset data was in G&G (geophysical & geological) and the least on the retail side (lubricants and gas for sale at operated gas stations). On the utility side, the go to area for opportunity appeared to be maintenance operations. Let’s say that I was about right with these assertions but that there were a lot more skeletons in the closet with diamond rings on their fingers than I anticipated.
After talking extensively with a number of department heads in the oil company; starting with the IT folks running half of the 400 G&G applications, the ERP instances (turns out there were 5, not 1) and the data warehouses (3), I queried the people in charge of lubricant and crude plant operations, hydrocarbon trading, finance (tax, insurance, treasury) as well as supply chain, production management, land management and HSE (health, safety, environmental).
The net-net was that the production management people said that there is no issue as they already cleaned up the ERP instance around customer and asset (well) information. The supply chain folks also indicated that they have used another vendor’s MDM application to clean up their vendor data, which funnily enough was not put back into the procurement system responsible for ordering parts. The data warehouse/BI team was comfortable that they cleaned up any information for supply chain, production and finance reports before dimension and fact tables were populated for any data marts.
All of this was pretty much a series of denial sessions on your 12-step road to recovery as the IT folks had very little interaction with the business to get any sense of how relevant, correct, timely and useful these actions are for the end consumer of the information. They also had to run and adjust fixes every month or quarter as source systems changed, new legislation dictated adjustments and new executive guidelines were announced.
While every department tried to run semi-automated and monthly clean up jobs with scripts and some off-the-shelve software to fix their particular situation, the corporate (holding) company and any downstream consumers had no consistency to make sensible decisions on where and how to invest without throwing another legion of bodies (by now over 100 FTEs in total) at the same problem.
So at every stage of the data flow from sources to the ERP to the operational BI and lastly the finance BI environment, people repeated the same tasks: profile, understand, move, aggregate, enrich, format and load.
Despite the departmental clean-up efforts, areas like production operations did not know with certainty (even after their clean up) how many well heads and bores they had, where they were downhole and who changed a characteristic as mundane as the well name last and why (governance, location match).
Marketing (Trading) was surprisingly open about their issues. They could not process incoming, anchored crude shipments into inventory or assess who the counterparty they sold to was owned by and what payment terms were appropriate given the credit or concentration risk associated (reference data, hierarchy mgmt.). As a consequence, operating cash accuracy was low despite ongoing improvements in the process and thus, incurred opportunity cost.
Operational assets like rig equipment had excess insurance coverage (location, operational data linkage) and fines paid to local governments for incorrectly filing or not renewing work visas was not returned for up to two years incurring opportunity cost (employee reference data).
A big chunk of savings was locked up in unplanned NPT (non-production time) because inconsistent, incorrect well data triggered incorrect maintenance intervals. Similarly, OEM specific DCS (drill control system) component software was lacking a central reference data store, which did not trigger alerts before components failed. If you add on top a lack of linkage of data served by thousands of sensors via well logs and Pi historians and their ever changing roll-up for operations and finance, the resulting chaos is complete.
One approach we employed around NPT improvements was to take the revenue from production figure from their 10k and combine it with the industry benchmark related to number of NPT days per 100 day of production (typically about 30% across avg depth on & offshore types). Then you overlay it with a benchmark (if they don’t know) how many of these NPT days were due to bad data, not equipment failure or alike, and just fix a portion of that, you are getting big numbers.
When I sat back and looked at all the potential it came to more than $200 million in savings over 5 years and this before any sensor data from rig equipment, like the myriad of siloed applications running within a drill control system, are integrated and leveraged via a Hadoop cluster to influence operational decisions like drill string configuration or asmyth.
Next time I’ll share some insight into the results of my most recent utility engagement but I would love to hear from you what your experience is in these two or other similar industries.
Recommendations contained in this post are estimates only and are based entirely upon information provided by the prospective customer and on our observations. While we believe our recommendations and estimates to be sound, the degree of success achieved by the prospective customer is dependent upon a variety of factors, many of which are not under Informatica’s control and nothing in this post shall be relied upon as representative of the degree of success that may, in fact, be realized and no warrantee or representation of success, either express or implied, is made.
I believe that most in the software business believe that it is tough enough to calculate and hence financially justify the purchase or build of an application - especially middleware – to a business leader or even a CIO. Most of business-centric IT initiatives involve improving processes (order, billing, service) and visualization (scorecarding, trending) for end users to be more efficient in engaging accounts. Some of these have actually migrated to targeting improvements towards customers rather than their logical placeholders like accounts. Similar strides have been made in the realm of other party-type (vendor, employee) as well as product data. They also tackle analyzing larger or smaller data sets and providing a visual set of clues on how to interpret historical or predictive trends on orders, bills, usage, clicks, conversions, etc.
If you think this is a tough enough proposition in itself, imagine the challenge of quantifying the financial benefit derived from understanding where your “hardware” is physically located, how it is configured, who maintained it, when and how. Depending on the business model you may even have to figure out who built it or owns it. All of this has bottom-line effects on how, who and when expenses are paid and revenues get realized and recognized. And then there is the added complication that these dimensions of hardware are often fairly dynamic as they can also change ownership and/or physical location and hence, tax treatment, insurance risk, etc.
Such hardware could be a pump, a valve, a compressor, a substation, a cell tower, a truck or components within these assets. Over time, with new technologies and acquisitions coming about, the systems that plan for, install and maintain these assets become very departmentalized in terms of scope and specialized in terms of function. The same application that designs an asset for department A or region B, is not the same as the one accounting for its value, which is not the same as the one reading its operational status, which is not the one scheduling maintenance, which is not the same as the one billing for any repairs or replacement. The same folks who said the Data Warehouse is the “Golden Copy” now say the “new ERP system” is the new central source for everything. Practitioners know that this is either naiveté or maliciousness. And then there are manual adjustments….
Moreover, to truly take squeeze value out of these assets being installed and upgraded, the massive amounts of data they generate in a myriad of formats and intervals need to be understood, moved, formatted, fixed, interpreted at the right time and stored for future use in a cost-sensitive, easy-to-access and contextual meaningful way.
I wish I could tell you one application does it all but the unsurprising reality is that it takes a concoction of multiple. None or very few asset life cycle-supporting legacy applications will be retired as they often house data in formats commensurate with the age of the assets they were built for. It makes little financial sense to shut down these systems in a big bang approach but rather migrate region after region and process after process to the new system. After all, some of the assets have been in service for 50 or more years and the institutional knowledge tied to them is becoming nearly as old. Also, it is probably easier to engage in often required manual data fixes (hopefully only outliers) bit-by-bit, especially to accommodate imminent audits.
So what do you do in the meantime until all the relevant data is in a single system to get an enterprise-level way to fix your asset tower of Babel and leverage the data volume rather than treat it like an unwanted step child? Most companies, which operate in asset, fixed-cost heavy business models do not want to create a disruption but a steady tuning effect (squeezing the data orange), something rather unsexy in this internet day and age. This is especially true in “older” industries where data is still considered a necessary evil, not an opportunity ready to exploit. Fact is though; that in order to improve the bottom line, we better get going, even if it is with baby steps.
If you are aware of business models and their difficulties to leverage data, write to me. If you even know about an annoying, peculiar or esoteric data “domain”, which does not lend itself to be easily leveraged, share your thoughts. Next time, I will share some examples on how certain industries try to work in this environment, what they envision and how they go about getting there.
In my last blog on this topic, I discussed several areas where a database archiving solution can complement or help you to better leverage the Oracle In-Database Archiving feature. For an introduction of what the new In-Database Archiving feature in Oracle 12c is, refer to Part 1 of my blog on this topic.
Here, I will discuss additional areas where a database archiving solution can complement the new Oracle In-Database Archiving feature:
- Graphical UI for ease of administration – In database archiving is currently a technical feature of Oracle database, and not easily visible or mange-able outside of the DBA persona. This is where a database archiving solution provides a more comprehensive set of graphical user interfaces (GUI) that makes this feature easier to monitor and manage.
- Enabling application of In-Database Archiving for packaged applications and complex data models – Concepts of business entities or transactional records composed of related tables to maintain data and referential integrity as you archive, move, purge, and retain data, as well as business rules to determine when data has become inactive and can therefore be safely archived allow DBAs to apply this new Oracle feature to more complex data models. Also, the availability of application accelerators (prebuilt metadata of business entities and business rules for packaged applications) enables the application of In-Database Archiving to packaged applications like Oracle E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft, Siebel, and JD Edwards
- Data growth monitoring and analysis – available in some database archiving solution to enable monitoring and tracking of data growth trends and the identification of which tables, modules, and business entities are the largest and fastest growing to focus your ILM policies on.
- Performance monitoring and analysis – also available in some database archiving solution — allows Oracle administrators to easily and more meaningfully monitor and analyze database and application performance. They can identify the root cause of performance issues, and from there, administrators can define smart partitioning policies to segment data (i.e. mark them as inactive) and monitor the impact of the policy on improving query performance. This capability helps you to identify which set of records should potentially be “marked as inactive” and segmented.
- Automatic purging of unused or aged data based on policies – database archiving solutions allow administrators to define ILM policies to automate the purging of records that are truly no longer used and have been in the inactive state for some time.
- Optimal data organization, placement, and purging, leveraging Oracle partitioning – a database archiving solution like Informatica Data Archive is optimized to leverage Oracle partitioning to optimally move data to inactive tablespaces, and purge inactive data by dropping or truncating partitions. All of these actions are automated based on policies, again eliminating the need for scripting by the DBA.
- Extreme compression to reduce cost and storage capacity consumption – up to 98% (90%-95% on average) compression is available in some database archiving solutions as compared to the 30%-60% compression available in native database compression.
- Compliance management – Enforcement of retention and disposal policies with the ability to apply legal holds on archived data are part of a comprehensive database archiving solution.
- Central policy management, across heterogeneous databases – a database archiving solution helps you to manage data growth, improve performance, reduce costs, ensure compliance to retention regulations, and define and apply data management policies across multiple heterogeneous database types, beyond Oracle.
Under the hood: decommissioning an SAP system with Informatica Data Archive for Application Retirement
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.
ROI = every executive’s favorite acronym and one that is often challenging to demonstrate.
In our interactions with provider clients and prospects we are hearing that they’ve migrated to new EMRs but aren’t receiving the ROI they had budgeted or anticipated. In many cases, they are using the new EMR for documentation but still paying to maintain the legacy EMR for access to historical data for billing and care delivery. If health systems can retire these applications and still maintain operational access to the data, they will be able to realize the expected ROI and serve patients proactively.
My colleague Julie, Lockner wrote a blog post about how Informatica Application Retirement for Healthcare is helping healthcare organizations to retire legacy applications and realize ROI.
Healthcare organizations are currently engaged in major transformative initiatives. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) provided the healthcare industry incentives for the adoption and modernization of point-of-care computing solutions including electronic medical and health records (EMRs/EHRs). Funds have been allocated, and these projects are well on their way. In fact, the majority of hospitals in the US are engaged in implementing EPIC, a software platform that is essentially the ERP for healthcare.
These Cadillac systems are being deployed from scratch with very little data being ported from the old systems into the new. The result is a dearth of legacy applications running in aging hospital data centers, consuming every last penny of HIS budgets. Because the data still resides on those systems, hospital staff continues to use them making it difficult to shut down or retire.
Most of these legacy systems are not running on modern technology platforms – they run on systems such as HP Turbo Image, Intercache Mumps, and embedded proprietary databases. Finding people who know how to manage and maintain these systems is costly and risky – risky in that if data residing in those applications is subject to data retention requirements (patient records, etc.) and the data becomes inaccessible.
A different challenge for CFOs of these hospitals is the ROI on these EPIC implementations. Because these projects are multi-phased, multi-year, boards of directors are asking about the value realized from these investments. Many are coming up short because they are maintaining both applications in parallel. Relief will come when systems can be retired – but getting hospital staff and regulators to approve a retirement project requires evidence that they can still access data while adhering to compliance needs.
Many providers have overcome these hurdles by successfully implementing an application retirement strategy based on the Informatica Data Archive platform. Several of the largest pediatrics’ children’s hospitals in the US are either already saving or expecting to save $2 Million or more annually from retiring legacy applications. The savings come from:
- Eliminating software maintenance and license costs
- Eliminate hardware dependencies and costs
- Reduced storage requirements by 95% (data archived is stored in a highly compressed, accessible format)
- Improved efficiencies in IT by eliminating specialized processes or skills associated with legacy systems
- Freed IT resources – teams can spend more of their time working on innovations and new projects
Informatica Application Retirement Solutions for Healthcare provide hospitals with the ability to completely retire legacy applications, retire and maintain access to archive data for hospital staff. And with built in security and retention management, records managers and legal teams are satisfying compliance requirements. Contact your Informatica Healthcare team for more information on how you can get that EPIC ROI the board of directors is asking for.
The term “big data” has been bandied around so much in recent months that arguably, it’s lost a lot of meaning in the IT industry. Typically, IT teams have heard the phrase, and know they need to be doing something, but that something isn’t being done. As IDC pointed out last year, there is a concerning shortage of trained big data technology experts, and failure to recognise the implications that not managing big data can have on the business is dangerous. In today’s information economy, as increasingly digital consumers, customers, employees and social networkers we’re handing over more and more personal information for businesses and third parties to collate, manage and analyse. On top of the growth in digital data, emerging trends such as cloud computing are having a huge impact on the amount of information businesses are required to handle and store on behalf of their customers. Furthermore, it’s not just the amount of information that’s spiralling out of control: it’s also the way in which it is structured and used. There has been a dramatic rise in the amount of unstructured data, such as photos, videos and social media, which presents businesses with new challenges as to how to collate, handle and analyse it. As a result, information is growing exponentially. Experts now predict a staggering 4300% increase in annual data generation by 2020. Unless businesses put policies in place to manage this wealth of information, it will become worthless, and due to the often extortionate costs to store the data, it will instead end up having a huge impact on the business’ bottom line. Maxed out data centres Many businesses have limited resource to invest in physical servers and storage and so are increasingly looking to data centres to store their information in. As a result, data centres across Europe are quickly filling up. Due to European data retention regulations, which dictate that information is generally stored for longer periods than in other regions such as the US, businesses across Europe have to wait a very long time to archive their data. For instance, under EU law, telecommunications service and network providers are obliged to retain certain categories of data for a specific period of time (typically between six months and two years) and to make that information available to law enforcement where needed. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that investment in high performance storage capacity has become a key priority for many. Time for a clear out So how can organisations deal with these storage issues? They can upgrade or replace their servers, parting with lots of capital expenditure to bring in more power or more memory for Central Processing Units (CPUs). An alternative solution would be to “spring clean” their information. Smart partitioning allows businesses to spend just one tenth of the amount required to purchase new servers and storage capacity, and actually refocus how they’re organising their information. With smart partitioning capabilities, businesses can get all the benefits of archiving the information that’s not necessarily eligible for archiving (due to EU retention regulations). Furthermore, application retirement frees up floor space, drives the modernisation initiative, allows mainframe systems and older platforms to be replaced and legacy data to be migrated to virtual archives. Before IT professionals go out and buy big data systems, they need to spring clean their information and make room for big data. Poor economic conditions across Europe have stifled innovation for a lot of organisations, as they have been forced to focus on staying alive rather than putting investment into R&D to help improve operational efficiencies. They are, therefore, looking for ways to squeeze more out of their already shrinking budgets. The likes of smart partitioning and application retirement offer businesses a real solution to the growing big data conundrum. So maybe it’s time you got your feather duster out, and gave your information a good clean out this spring?
IT application managers are constantly going through a process of integrating, modernizing and consolidating enterprise applications to keep them efficient and providing the maximum business value to the corporation for their cost.
But, it is important to remember that there is significant risk in these projects. An article in the Harvard Business Review states that 17% of enterprise application projects go seriously wrong; going over budget by 200% and over schedule by 70%. The HRB article refers to these projects as “black swans.”
How can you reduce this risk of project failure? Typically, 30% to 40% of an enterprise application project is data migration. A recent study by Bloor Research shows that while success rates for data migration projects are improving, 38% of them still miss their schedule and budget targets.
How can you improve the odds of success in data migration projects?
- Use data profiling tools to understand your data before you move it.
- Use data quality tools to correct data quality problems. There is absolutely no point in moving bad data around the organization – but it happens.
- Use a proven external methodology. In plain English, work with people who have “done it before”
- Develop your own internal competence. Nobody knows your data, and more importantly, the business context of your data than your own staff. Develop the skills and engage your business subject matter experts.
Informatica has industry-leading tools, a proven methodology, and a service delivery team with hundreds of successful data migration implementations.
To find out more about successful data migration:
- Informatica World: Visit us at the Hands On Lab – Data Migration.
- Informatica World: Informatica Presentation on Application Data Migration.
Application Data Migrations with Informatica Velocity Migration Methodology
Friday June 5, 2013 9:00 to 10:00
- Informatica World: Data Migration Factory Presentation by Accenture
Accelerating the Power of Data Migration
Tuesday June 4, 2013 2:00 to 3:00
- Bloor White Paper: Lower Your Risk with Application Data Migration: Next Steps With Informatica
- Informatica White Paper: De-Risk Your Application Go Lives