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Configuring storage for ERP

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Practicing ILM in an ERP environment
When companies implement an information lifecycle management (ILM) philosophy, the first task is to determine the value of data over time. The data must be categorized by current value and value over time before it can be managed to the appropriate level of storage. A better question in an ERP environment might be "What or who can actually read the data?"

Databases lock data up in tablespace files that look like big files that are constantly in use. A system administrator can see oraclesapdata23, but not what's inside.

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Traditional file-system ILM strategies are useless for putting older data on cheaper disk. But ERP apps have their own form of ILM.

A data warehouse coupled with an ERP application could be considered a form of "application-based" ILM. The database administrator can determine when the data in the tablespace ages, as well as how that aged data can be moved from the online transaction processing system to the data warehouse system for long-term storage.

While traditional ILM technologies like EMC Corp.'s DiskXtender can't step in and manage the tablespace, these types of apps can be considered in the management of archive and log files. Database administrators establish log files and archives to ensure they can recover a database to a specific point in time. If the database finds that it can't create a log file or an archive file as required, all transactions stop and the ERP application fails. By coupling ILM technologies with the log files, you can protect the database and ensure that the appropriate level of disk capacity is maintained.

Finally, third-party job scheduler applications are used in the most complicated environments--typically when the infrastructure used for backup and recovery spans multiple data centers. Jobs are developed within the scheduling applications that control the sequence of events to back up the app. The jobs can be monitored and can have different restart characteristics depending on where the sequence failed. An automated process that's controlled from a single application needs to be developed to provide this type of backup. In addition, it's important to think about applying ILM processes to some of the ERP data (see "Practicing ILM in an ERP environment").


Teamwork
There's no debate that ERP applications are tough to administer and protect. While ERP applications can cause significant stress to IT personnel, if database administrators, storage administrators and systems administrators all work as a team, the ERP application's performance and protection will be significantly increased. Again, appropriate coordination is the key to establishing a backup copy of an ERP application that can be recovered. Leverage the capability of the database to suspend transactions to the primary tablespace, and use the clone capabilities within your array and the backup application to move the copy of the data to secondary media. But data corruption isn't the only potential loss that IT administrators must be concerned with. In a future article, we'll describe how to protect an ERP application through a site failure by leveraging local and remote replication, and clustering techniques.

This was first published in December 2006

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