GECO TABAK, a.s. belongs among leading importers of tobacco products and smokers’ requisites in the Czech Republic. It is the only company in its field to cover the nation-wide market by distribution, and by its own wholesale. At the same time, the company operates a network of specialized “tobacco and press” shops under GECO brand name. These shops offer a broad choice of periodicals, telephone cards, public transport tickets, scratch cards, betting mediation, etc. Since 2000, GECO TABAK, a.s. has also been present on the Slovak market through its subsidiary GECO TABAK, s.r.o.
Objectives of GECO TABAK, a.s.
The primary objective of GECO TABAK, a.s. was to resolve the issue of ERP system (SAP R/3) database data archiving due to its size. The database contained a vast number of records in modules typical for the retail business, i.e., procurement, sale, and material management. The size of the database comprising all data for the past three years was overloading the hardware, consuming the disk space, and prolonging the system’s response time. IT specialists of GECO TABAK, a.s. therefore decided to solve the situation by data archiving of the SAP database using the Livelink ECM products.
Within the framework of overall project preparation, GECO TABAK, a.s. defined resolution of automatic archiving of the print reports generated by SAP, and archiving of issued accounting documents (including retroactive archiving of previously issued documents and print reports with historic data) as an additional objective of the project. Extension of the common solution comprised the possibility of bulk manipulation with archived documents, which was used for example, in the event of need to send multiple documents by e-mail.
The SAP data archiving solution prepared for GECO TABAK, a.s. was quoted and supplied as a complex “turn-key” package. In addition to the implementation works, IXTENT thus also ensured complex delivery of hardware and software components of the solution. The supply comprised the application server, operating system, database system, Open Text Livelink software, as well as UDO Jukebox for secure and long-term storage of archive data as required by GECO TABAK, a.s. and by the company standards.
SAP ERP Data Archiving and Outputs Archiving
Already during the first phases of discussions about the data archiving solution, IXTENT presented a detailed analysis of the SAP database including recommendations of suitable solution variant. This analysis was performed with the analytic tool and in cooperation with GECO TABAK, a.s. personnel. The recommended solution comprised archiving of six selected SAP data objects including data scope definition. These objects are located in FI (Financial accounting) MM (materials management), and SD (sales) modules. These objects occupied 65.6% of the total space taken by the data which could have been archived. Just for comparison, achieving the general ratio 80/20 (i.e., archiving of 80% of data with 20% effort) would require archiving implementation for 11 archiving objects. Archiving of the above-mentioned 65.6% of data was thus reached with 11% effort.
GECO TABAK, a.s. gained the following benefits by the archiving:
- better system performance thanks to the reduced database volume
- lower data volume for backup reducing the time needed for regular backup operations and related hardware savings
- secure ERP data archive on UDO technology platform
Expected data volumes to be archived in the future were determined on the groundwork of the outputs from the data and process analysis. According to the calculation, GECO TABAK, a.s. will archive up to 210 GB of data thanks to the database archiving solution during the next two years. This data will no longer load the SAP system database, however, it will still be available to the GECO TABAK’s personnel.
Archiving of outgoing documents (accounting documents, etc.) in defined PDF format forms an integral part of the SAP data archiving. PDF files generated by SAP are large in volume and they would considerably increase the need for archive space. IXTENT proposed several alternative solutions and supplied a specialized tool for PDF files reduction based on the data structure optimization according to the PDF standard through its partner as requested by GECO TABAK, a.s. A PDF Reducer was implemented at the time when the disk arrays contained approximately 1.5 TB (1TB = 1024GB) of PDF files generated by SAP. The reduced files are identical to the original ones except the size, which is up to 92% smaller. The proportion between the reduced and non-reduced file size depends on the number of pages, graphic elements, tables, etc.
PDF Reducer implementation enabled a saving of hardware equipment required to store these files and also provided a greater comfort for users working with PDF files generated by SAP.
Functionality for Bulk Operations with Archived Documents
Standard SAP tools for document (accounting documents) printing are available for communication with partners. This functionality was extended by printing into PDF files stored on the archive server within the framework of the solution implementation. The archived PDF files can be exported from the archive. Files for export are selected on the groundwork of selection criteria specification directly in SAP using a suitably adapted report. Exported files are stored/published to an FTP server from where the user can download them and subsequently send them to a partner in electronic form.
Successful archive server implementation provided GECO TABAK, a.s. with control over the growth of data in SAP, and the company has also obtained a complex solution, providing functionalities for archives management, fast access to stored data, and automatic monitoring of activities in the archive. The solution can be further extended in particular by incorporation of additional documents into the system, by coverage of a larger part of the documents life cycle, by process workflow extension, and by implementation of other functionalities to comply with requirements of relevant legislation.