It goes without saying: data protection protocols—including backup, restore, recovery, and defense against cyber threats—are paramount to any serious digital strategy. In a time of surging data creation and pandemic-driven digital transformation, your approach to data protection has taken on new significance.

In this five-part series, Brian Sturgis and Rob McLaughlin, fellow SAP specialists at Dell Technologies, laid out the four big ideas dominating interactions with SAP users as the effects of a global pandemic make their mark on everyday business operations. In the second post, they explored the heightened focus on the cloud and the need to build a cloud-first strategy. In the third post, they delved more deeply into the scale and performance conversation to understand how it’s evolving and how recent experiences can better prepare you for long-term SAP success. In the fourth post, they shared their perspectives around the critical issue of data management strategy.

In this final post, Rob shares a few important items for your 2021 SAP data protection checklist.

1. Ensure Service-Level Objective (SLO) Protection

Don’t allow service-level commitments to the business to be undercut by insufficient data protection and restore capabilities. It’s essential that you define service levels consistently across each layer of your SAP stack. Web servers, app servers, databases, and bolt-ons that are serving specific SAP components should be grouped as a recoverability “zone.” Understanding the impact of data loss in any of these layers helps to define the required service levels.

Additionally, don’t forget about nonproduction. In many cases, these nonproduction systems are part of your next transformational strategy. Make sure you define your service levels here as well. At the infrastructure level, it’s important that you’re leveraging a trusted data protection solution that enables efficient data movement, data placement, and a secure architecture that verifies data in line to keep it protected.

2. Improve Storage Utilization

Meet stringent protection SLOs for your SAP landscape by backing up directly from the application and database server. The database layers typically grow to be significant in terms of database size. It’s not uncommon to have databases approaching 5-6TB in size. These systems are copied to nonproduction databases in order “refresh” the environments for development and testing. Deduplication technologies can significantly reduce the amount of capacity required to store your SAP backups.

Also, this direct path functionality allows backups that include only unique data blocks, reducing storage utilization and network bandwidth tremendously. Recovery is simple: copies are stored as full backups, with only changed data pulled back. In addition, database administrators can instantly access backups stored on Dell Technologies storage for simplified granular recovery.

3. Safeguard Cloud Data

As your SAP environments increasingly transform toward the “Intelligent Enterprise” concept, data will be generated and stored not only in the core, but typically also at the edge, and possibly in other applications hosted in the hyperscalers. Your data protection strategy needs to offer a full-feature solution to support workloads being protected across multiple environments, from core to edge to cloud. Gain visibility into your data protection environment across multiple systems and multiple sites, and protect multiple workloads running in a variety of configurations by transferring backup data securely and efficiently to the cloud for disaster recovery.

4. Recover Quickly

Incidents do happen. And with vast proliferation of data volumes and data sources, as well as highly motivated malicious individuals, the risk of incidents continues to rise. Your ability to recover quickly and effectively is a crucial business differentiator. We like to let SAP admins protect data using native tools, but we also provide them with the simplicity and efficiency of backing up directly to our solutions. This eliminates the complexity of traditional backup software and puts control in the hands of SAP data owners, letting them have the control they need to do backups when they want. Data management via a common set of tools offers SAP S/4HANA and BR*Tools integration for backup and recovery.

5. Enhance Data Management

Beyond backup and recovery, your data protection suite should allow for local and remote data management integrated into standard SAP BASIS operations. The ability to utilize BASIS tools like BRBACKUP, BRRESTORE, SAP studio, and others to control discovery, redirected restores, and selected restores is critical when maintaining your promote-to-production landscape. This is important during transformational projects and/or as part of your daily operational process. For example, functionality such as application and database direct restores allows for BASIS team members to initiate a restore process directly to pre-production landscape to enable a dress rehearsal prior to go-live. This helps eliminate the data management silos that are prevalent in many IT environments today.

Do you have questions or comments about data protection for SAP? Send them along to the Dell SAP specialist team. No pressure, no obligation. We would enjoy hearing from you.

Have you upgraded your EAM technology stack, navigated an SAP S/4HANA migration, or solved an operational business challenge through technology or process improvements? Your peers are eager to learn from your experience at the upcoming ASUG Best Practices: SAP for EAM virtual conference on April 13–14. Submit your presentation abstract for an opportunity to share your SAP journey.