Big Lots Reduces the Problems of Big Data and Sales Audits

Shortly after Big Lots, the nation’s largest broadline closeout retailer, implemented SAP IS-Retail the company noticed that its retail stores were generating a lot of data. In fact, data was growing two to three times faster than what the company had initially estimated, and would reach 30-40 TB by the end of the year. This incredible increase in data volume was already causing performance problems, which would only get worse over time. Due to the year-round, high pressure nature of the retail business, the company needed to find a solution immediately and it needed to be able to be implemented quickly, during the company's very short SAP system maintenance windows. In addition, the large amount of data that was being generated with each retail sales transaction also made it difficult for the company to retrieve data for sales tax audits. The data extraction process was very manual and complex. Each audit inquiry required seven separate steps to extract data from both the SAP BW and the SAP ECC systems. To be able to respond within the 2 week time frame provided by auditors, the company needed to find a better, faster solution for extracting data. Solution Big Lots engaged Dolphin to help develop a Data Volume Management strategy to control growth of data in the SAP BW and ECC systems, enforce data retention requirements and improve performance. The solution provided:

  • Secure, low cost storage for archived data
  • Nearline storage for fast retrieval of archived data for analytics
  • Common infrastructure to support both BW and ECC
  • Fast and easy retrieval of data by users
  • Simplified reporting for Sales Audits
  • Data retention compliance with business requirements
The solution was implemented in phases. In the first phase, the company controlled its data growth by archiving its business complete data. In the second phase, the company addressed the performance issues by adding fast and flexible retrieval access to the archived data and custom reports. The sales tax audit report was created as part of this phase. Results The company was able to stabilize data volume growth in both the SAP BW and ECC systems and improve user productivity through faster system performance and elimination of manual steps in reporting. Benefits of the solution include:
  • Stablized database growth
  • 97% reduction of data with archived and nearline technology
  • Reduced time to complete sales queries to 5-10 seconds
  • Improved Sales audit responses to 1 day from 2 weeks
  • Improved sales reporting 200%
  • Reduced data growth rate by 90%
  • Increased user productivity with faster system performance and automated reporting
  • Satisfied retention and tax reporting requirements

Big Lots Reduces the Problems of Big Data and Sales Audits

Shortly after Big Lots, the nation’s largest broadline closeout retailer, implemented SAP IS-Retail the company noticed that its retail stores were generating a lot of data.

In fact, data was growing two to three times faster than what the company had initially estimated, and would reach 30-40 TB by the end of the year. This incredible increase in data volume was already causing performance problems, which would only get worse over time. Due to the year-round, high pressure nature of the retail business, the company needed to find a solution immediately and it needed to be able to be implemented quickly, during the company’s very short SAP system maintenance windows.

In addition, the large amount of data that was being generated with each retail sales transaction also made it difficult for the company to retrieve data for sales tax audits. The data extraction process was very manual and complex. Each audit inquiry required seven separate steps to extract data from both the SAP BW and the SAP ECC systems. To be able to respond within the 2 week time frame provided by auditors, the company needed to find a better, faster solution for extracting data.

Solution

Big Lots engaged Dolphin to help develop a Data Volume Management strategy to control growth of data in the SAP BW and ECC systems, enforce data retention requirements and improve performance. The solution provided:

  • Secure, low cost storage for archived data
  • Nearline storage for fast retrieval of archived data for analytics
  • Common infrastructure to support both BW and ECC
  • Fast and easy retrieval of data by users
  • Simplified reporting for Sales Audits
  • Data retention compliance with business requirements

The solution was implemented in phases. In the first phase, the company controlled its data growth by archiving its business complete data. In the second phase, the company addressed the performance issues by adding fast and flexible retrieval access to the archived data and custom reports. The sales tax audit report was created as part of this phase.

Results

The company was able to stabilize data volume growth in both the SAP BW and ECC systems and improve user productivity through faster system performance and elimination of manual steps in reporting. Benefits of the solution include:

  • Stablized database growth
  • 97% reduction of data with archived and nearline technology
  • Reduced time to complete sales queries to 5-10 seconds
  • Improved Sales audit responses to 1 day from 2 weeks
  • Improved sales reporting 200%
  • Reduced data growth rate by 90%
  • Increased user productivity with faster system performance and automated reporting
  • Satisfied retention and tax reporting requirements

Big Lots Simplifies Sales Audits by Associating POS Receipts Directly with its SAP Financials

This presentation details how leveraging SAP POS Data Management application and nearline storage options help to ensure the vast amount of highly varied retail transaction data created across the company is easily accessible, improving audit response time and increasing productivity.

Manish Garg, Director, SAP CoE at Big Lots and Dr. Werner Hopf, CEO and Archiving Principal at Dolphin, discuss:

  • Big Data volumes generated by POS-DM require solutions such as nearline storage, which provide the performance and speed required for reporting on business-critical data
  • Associating POS-DM data with Financial transactions reduces the number of systems and steps required to generate audit reports
  • Archiving POS data ensures adherence with data retention policies, providing additional cost savings and mitigates risk
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Cloud Storage Solution for Archived SAP & Data and Documents

The use of cloud storage for archived SAP data is demystified as we show how easy it is to use, do a cost analysis and present the benefits of aligning data usage with cost.

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Southern California Edison Migrates SAP BW to HANA adding Nearline Storage and Archiving

Hear Ron Grabyan, Manager Data Warehousing Services, describe how Southern California Edison approached migrating BW to HANA and its HANA implementation, and why SCE added an NLS strategy to control growth and achieve payback.

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Cloud Storage for SAP Archived Data and Documents

cloudstorageThe SAP world is abuzz about Cloud Computing, and for good reason. In the past few months, SAP announced a number of tools to help companies run SAP solutions on private cloud architectures. But amidst all the buzz, there hasn’t been much talk on one aspect of cloud computing highly relevant for any user of SAP solutions: incorporating cloud storage into SAP data and document archiving strategies. Dolphin is the first.

Dolphin’s Content Archive Service for Cloud lets SAP users use Storage as a Service as an ArchiveLink repository. The service allows a direct connection, acting as a “cloud connector,” from the SAP archiving layer to major public cloud providers such as AT&T Synaptic Storage as a Service, Amazon S3 and Google Cloud. It’s an option that makes sense for any organization, whether or not you are running other SAP solutions in the cloud. This cloud archiving solution enables SAP archived data and documents to be stored to cloud and transparently accessed whenever and wherever they are needed.

The primary advantage is that cloud storage lets SAP users align the cost of SAP storage with the value of their data. It frees customers to invest in high performance access for current, frequently used data, while shifting seldom used data and documents to a lower cost and practically infinitely elastic cloud storage services. Results thus far indicate that cloud storage may cost as little as 10 percent of the total of more traditional archive storage solutions built around traditional on-premises hardware.

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SAP Data and Document Archiving to Cloud

A global company in the food and beverage industry had an SAP data archiving strategy in place: Data was being archived to keep the production SAP database running at peak performance. They also archived financial documents that support transactions. But even compressed, archived data takes up storage space, and when the data volume leaps into terabytes, storage becomes expensive. To make matters worse, that cost was going into storage of data that regulations required them to retain, but was very rarely accessed—if at all. The company needed to do something about the rising time and cost of managing terabytes of archived SAP data and documents.

Solution
Dolphin recommended a tiered storage strategy for archived data. This strategy consisted of:

  • Nearline storage for data that could be archived but would be accessed more frequently;
  • Their current offline archive repository for data that would be accessed less frequently;
  • Cloud storage for volumes of documents and data that may never be accessed but needed to be kept to support their retention requirements.

The cloud storage tier lets you align the cost of storage with the value of the data. It frees you to invest in high-performance access for current, frequently used data, while shifting seldom used data and documents to a lower cost and practically infinitely elastic cloud storage service.

We added Dolphin’s Content Archive Service for Cloud (CAS-C) interface to allow the customer to send and retrieve data transparently to the cloud storage provider—in this case, AT&T Synaptic Storage as a Service. Dolphin’s service allows a direct connection from the SAP archiving layer to major public cloud providers such as AT&T, Amazon S3 and Google Cloud.

Results
Now, the company has seamless access through the SAP application to data and documents, regardless of where the data is stored—online, nearline, offline or in the cloud. Thus far, the company is archiving about 4 TB of business-complete accounts payable documents and data using the CAS-S solution provided by Dolphin and AT&T Synaptic Storage as a Service.

Analysis shows that over five years—during which time the database will rise to about 6 TB—the new cloud-based archive strategy will save the customer about $750,000 and free their database and network for more current, mission-critical data.

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Harness the Potential of Unlimited Data Storage

SAPinsider, Volume 16, Issue 2, April 2015.

Organizations are collecting data at an ever-increasing rate. In the past, it was simply too expensive to store every bit of data, but the real-time processing capabilities of SAP HANA makes it possible to lift this limitation.

In this article, learn how a data storage strategy based on SAP HANA allows you to retain virtually unlimited amounts of data at a fraction of the cost, enabling you to answer previously unanswerable questions about your business.

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Nearline Storage Solutions: Manage Data Volume and Prepare the Business for SAP HANA

SAPinsider, Jan/Feb/March 2013
Dr. Werner Hopf

In the information era, you’re only as good as what you know right now. And for the majority of companies, what they know is largely based on the data they have access to. That’s why accurate, real-time information is so vital for making informed business decisions, and why it’s important that employees be able to access that information at all times.

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Building a Bridge to SAP HANA

SAPinsider, Jan/Feb/March 2012
Dr. Werner Hopf

Today’s business intelligence (BI) systems — like SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse (SAP NetWeaver BW) — are experiencing record levels of data growth. As more data accumulates in these systems, they can become difficult to maintain, resulting in slow queries, reduced productivity, and increased TCO.

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