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Data Archiving: The differentiator of ERP services

Effective and efficient are the cornerstones of modern ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) solutions. Today’s ERP vendors must address the compounding pressure of ever-expanding data. In other words, they need to cue in robust data archiving solutions. But, archiving ERP applications can get tricky at times. Many companies seek to retire those initial ERP applications – and, in some cases, the mainframe apps and proprietary platforms that preceded them – they’re not sure how to transition gracefully while maintaining access to all their data. This data still has value, not to mention liability potential, so archiving it takes careful thought. A skillful ERP solutions vendor can come to the rescue.

What is data archiving?

Data archiving refers to a process of identifying, extracting, and transferring data that is no longer in active use, to a secure and accessible location. In the initial phases of building an ERP application, the focus is more on making accessible as much data as possible – in one system, under one roof. But, on the flip side of this lies the complex parent-child relationships between data tables. It can get difficult to pull data out of relational databases without breaking something. Your ERP solutions vendor needs to have tools in place for efficient data archival.

1. Improves cost efficiency

In today’s data-overload environment, storage needs are at an all-time high. Without proper infrastructure, this can put unwarranted pressure on your servers, especially if you are storing everything on site. And, this further involves colossal investments for server upkeep. Many enterprise compliance standards demand that all corporate data (including ERP data) be stored for a substantial periods of time. So, when data deletion is not an option, it is always prudent to store data on remote/off-premise servers or in the cloud. And, this is what data archiving services are all about. In the absence of a well-maintained data repository, companies often have to outsource for intel discovery and incur huge costs in the process.

Data archiving services also take the load off your IT teams and make you more self-reliant when it comes to accessing the archived data. The archives are designed to be both affordable and accessible.

2. Enhances business productivity

Data archival solutions streamline ERP data end to end. It is record management of sorts. Business operation applications, such as ERP, often gather a lot of data in a very short period of time. It creates a lot of unnecessary pressure on your on-premise storage facilities. Cloud storage solutions are better suited for such requirements. All the data your software tools accumulate over a stipulated period of time can instead be archived for easy access and analysis. This not only saves on-premise service space but also ensures that all of your installations function quickly and efficiently.

By carefully structuring the collected data, the process of data archival also makes the case for easy data retrieval. All redundant data is removed and only the unique data is stored and saved. This further enhances business communication as all stakeholders access and collaborate on the same versions of the data files.

The benefits of leveraging data archiving services
Data archival brings multiple advantages to businesses

4. Streamlines enterprise storage

It’s always easier to gain insights from data when it’s stored in a single, shared location. If it is scattered across multiple devices and networks, it becomes difficult to leverage data as enterprise intel. To add to the challenge, data often comes in various shapes and sizes from varying sources – structured and unstructured, traditional and non-traditional. This, of course, means recurring efforts in server maintenance. A centralized repository of data (ERP or otherwise) with business-critical user access can make enterprise operations more efficient.

With data archiving solutions in place, storage can be streamlined and maintained in one go. You can plug in with select ERP service integrations for desirable outputs.

Why do many ERP vendors often miss out on data archiving?

If you’ve ever struggled with the process of purging, archiving, or extracting data for a mid-sized or large enterprise, you may have wondered aloud, “Why didn’t my ERP solutions vendor provide a better way to do this?”

In 1986, Oracle started developing a new generation of business applications that would transform the playing field. Up until that point, ERP systems had been proprietary. They were either written for IBM mainframes (as SAP’s accounting software suite was), or for one of the various mini-computer platforms.

Oracle’s new software would propel ERP one step closer to truly open systems. How? It was written for a new generation of hardware platforms—such as Sequent Computers and Pyramid Computers—that ran on a generic version of the UNIX operating system. Adding to the flexibility, the Oracle relational database could also run on proprietary platforms. Thus, companies using the new Oracle Financials suite with an Oracle database could run their software on virtually anything.

Suddenly, enterprises truly had a choice of hardware and software. Although IBM had invented the relational database, Oracle was running with it.

However, that wasn’t the only pro-customer change. The user interface in these new applications was vastly improved. Previous generations of ERP had offered users a traditional mainframe green screen. You would fill the screen with data and press a button. Since there was no field-level validation, errors would only come back to you after you’d processed an entire screen.

Oracle’s new apps, on the other hand, offered much richer interaction between computer and user. And because they ran on a relational database, users could query data on demand, rather than using the cumbersome nightly reporting associated with mainframe computing. These innovations naturally enabled much greater productivity—not to mention, user satisfaction.

The dynamics between data management and data archiving in ERP

The uptake of ERP applications has been dramatic over time. And the urge to load these systems with huge amounts of corporate data has been unstoppable. So, it was only a matter of time for businesses to realize that the aging ERP applications come with a more serious problem: it’s really hard to get data out of them. And fairly, this set the stage for corporate data repositories, ergo, data archives to enter the picture.

Data protection strategy as the bedrock for application testing

Secure applications are at the core of a good data protection strategy. Businesses run rigorous web application security assessments to prevent even the smallest of data leaks. Today, data is the most precious resource needed to garner a sustainable ROI. Naturally, software security testing is integral to modern data protection and risk management.

Why do you need a data protection strategy?

The benefits of having a data protection strategy are manifold.

  1.  Protects the holistic integrity of enterprise data
  2.  Saves against financial loss and public relations hassles
  3.  Safeguards customer privacy; strengthens trust
  4.  Helps to maintain compliance with third-party regulations
  5.  Facilitates easier management of data and information

Data privacy has been one of the most pressing concerns since the last few decades. And, given the rapid growth of data, some of the breaches are proving to be devastatingly massive. For example, back in September 2018, Hotel Marriott International (Starwood) reported a sensitive data breach for half a million of its customer base. The ensuing investigation exposed unauthorized hotel network access for four-long years preceding the attack. It goes without saying that the PR aftershocks were massive. On top of this, the company was fined £18.4 million by the UK Information Commissioner’s Office in 2020 for failing to keep customers’ personal data safe.

Why do you need to adopt a ‘Data Protection Strategy’?
The benefits of having a data protection strategy in place

Should you include application testing in your data risk management plan?

Absolutely yes! A low-hanging fruit is to focus on the treatment of production database(s) while testing software applications. It’s not uncommon for large companies to maintain ten copies of production – full clones used for testing, training, and development purposes.

To make matters worse, the people who have access to these copies of production are often “outsiders” – third-party consultants who you may not have vetted as carefully as your actual employees. Giving them full access to sensitive corporate data creates a significant privacy risk.

Where to begin privatizing data? Many organizations struggle just to figure out where all their at-risk data lives in the corporate environment. The next step is to put in place a simple yet reliable mechanism for masking, or scrambling, that data so that it will still be useful for testing but won’t endanger the privacy of your customers and employees. In the face of a colossal threat to user data privacy, software testing security is a must-have function.

IBM InfoSphere Optim hosts excellent data privacy solutions

IBM InfoSphere Optim Data Privacy is a solution that minimizes risk without slowing down your testing. By masking personal information, IBM Optim protects confidential customer and employee data and ensures compliance with all levels of privacy regulations.

Of course, masking your data is only part of the game. It’s also a best practice to subset your production database, rather than use full copies of production, for testing and other non-production activities. IBM Optim Test Data Management facilitates that process. And when you use Optim Data Privacy and Optim Test Data Management in tandem, you can actually apply data privacy rules to production data while you’re subsetting it.

Application Retirement 101 – Drafting the legacy roadmap

Application Retirement 101 – Drafting the legacy roadmap

Application sprawl is one of the biggest challenges facing modern-day businesses. The reason can vary from uncontrolled data growth to outdated primary software usage. Toward this, legacy application retirement has become a first-order need today. Decommissioning applications optimize resources otherwise needed to maintain outdated data reserves. Industry analysts view application retirement and archival as top data growth management practices.

What is application retirement?

Application retirement is the process of shutting down inactive database applications.

Data is an invaluable enterprise asset. However, some legacy databases consume resources and maintenance costs despite no active use. It makes them more of a liability. While it might be tempting to let go of such applications, by doing so, you also lose access to the information they contain. You may need such information for driving insights in the future.

The smart way to approach this is to leverage the right data growth management practice. Decommission applications that have already rendered optimal usage. Subject the rest of the legacy databases to application archival. The latter sends selected records from an active store to a standardized archive. You can access, manage, and even retire the applications from this archive as per your need.

Why is application retirement needed?

  • Managing data growth – The explosion of data in recent times has contributed to large volumes of stored information. Alongside, it has also proliferated data-intensive applications which are costly to manage. It is good to standardize data growth management as a practice to address these areas.

Read why it is important to control application data growth before it controls your business.

  • Saving maintenance costs – Organizations run low on infrastructure resources if applications start growing beyond control. This necessitates extra hardware purchases which in turn increase management costs. Application archiving or retirement can cut such unnecessary costs. These make room in your budget for innovation and other business improvements.
  • Boosting resource efficiency – Legacy applications often continue to consume resources even after being replaced. Your infrastructure expands to accommodate all the redundant applications and data. And, such inefficient hardware utilization makes you spend more on infrastructure management than needed. Decommissioning applications that are no longer in use is a business-smart step toward this.
  • Ensuring data security – You must be cognizant of how data moves through your enterprise IT ecosystem. Lack of this visibility can increase risks of security breaches and compliance fines. Make application archival or sunsetting a part of your data growth management strategy for arresting such threats.
  • Adhering to legal mandates– Legal changes in structure can pose challenges in tracking the existing software inventory and related resource requirements.

In the case of a merger, for example, one organization’s applications are often managed as the primary software. The other organization’s programs remain in a non-production environment for reporting purposes. Though this addresses compliance concerns, it may create inefficiencies in infrastructure management. Application archival/retirement can come in handy under such circumstances.

Benefits of Robust Application Retirement
Benefits of Robust Application Retirement

Picking an application retirement strategy

There are volumes of applications in the IT environment today. However, so is the amount of data that has the potential of generating future insight. Justifying investment in an application retirement project can be challenging toward this. New demands are compelling today’s IT teams to address data growth management with fewer financial resources than ever before.

The time is ripe for thinking of application retirement in terms of a comprehensive strategy.

The first step should pertain to a thorough investigation of existing programs. However, simply identifying existing software is not enough. Instead, organizations should dig deeper. Analyzing the cost of programs and connecting to respective business values is a good starting point.

An effective application retirement strategy requires this level of visibility for saving mission-critical data and software. It also allots a sufficient amount of time for the discovery process. There are other benefits to this as well. For example, audits become easier for organizations that have a map of where their data is and how their applications relate to one another.

How to select the right technology for application retirement?

The application decommissioning process can be resource-intensive in the absence of appropriate tools. The retirement factory model can come in handy under such scenarios. This data growth management practice is known for its operation streamlining capabilities.

What is the Retirement Factory Model? 

The retirement factory model helps in strategic application retirement. It leverages automation and pre-built templates for decommissioning legacy applications. As a result, manual processes are optimally eliminated while still allowing human insight and intervention as appropriate.

IBM InfoSphere Optim data lifecycle management effectively automates application retirement

IBM InfoSphere Optim data lifecycle management includes functionalities well-suited for a factory-based approach. Incorporating InfoSphere Optim into existing IT environments helps to automate archival job scheduling.

The application archiving functionality saves mission-critical information so that you can maintain compliance. The query workload support helps to access archived data in the future. This way, line-of-business users gain the efficiency of the factory retirement model. They do not lose any information that might be useful for compliance or analytics in the future.

As InfoSphere Optim has a suite of data lifecycle management applications, you can easily leverage it for keeping track of and retiring applications.

Read more about IBM’s application archiving and retirement solutions.

Launching a data governance initiative

Stalling application retirement initiatives can be tempting. There is always a lingering apprehension that these projects will not be cost-effective. However, controlling application sprawl using the retirement factory model is only likely to save resources in the long run. Not all sprawl issues stem from applications. So, software management can contribute significantly to the total cost of ownership (TCO) of technology. Efficiency gains need a solid foundation to launch a comprehensive data governance initiative.

In some cases, this initiative will mean investing in advanced technology. Some organizations may need to adopt new practices for optimizing their existing solutions. Regardless of the changes, an effective approach can accurately follow data through its entire lifecycle. It can facilitate application retirement through automation.

Read why investing in data governance has always been a strategic business move.

Estuate is a premier implementation partner of IBM InfoSphere Optim solutions

We have deep experience in the implementation of IBM InfoSphere Optim solutions. We also know our way around other IBM Unified Governance and Integration products. Archive little-used data and retire obsolete applications with our data archival capabilities. The archived data can be accessed at any time.

  • We are IBM’s go-to partner for IBM InfoSpere Optim solutions across many platforms and use cases.
  • We have a successful track record with over 350 InfoSphere Optim implementations.
  • We have in-house domain experts to provide business-specific consultation across various industry verticals.

Watch this webinar conducted by Estuate’s IBM experts. They speak on data growth management practices using IBM’s InfoSphere Optim solutions.

So if you are looking for robust data growth management solutions, we’re just this click away.

Do you think that application retirement is necessary for managing data growth? Can it make business operations smoother for you?