Q:  

I will be extracting data from SAPR/3 and flat files and loading into my SAP-BW system. How do I go about evaluating ETL tools and which ones would you suggest?

A:  

Sid Adelman's Answer: The most important point to consider is the support the ETL tools have for SAP. Most of the major ETL products have an SAP mapping. Ask to review the mappings and try to determine how easy or difficult it will be for you with each one. The next point to consider is the performance, i.e., how long it will take to perform the ETL process. This is critical if you will be loading vast amounts of data. Ask to talk to references with data volumes as large as yours.

Clay Rehm's Answer: I recommend looking at all the data extraction tools - make sure you look at non-ETL tools - some may not define themselves as such. This means evaluate any kind of data movement, migration or extraction tool. I firmly believe that the tool you select is a tool that your organization needs, not what I suggest. Additionally, the tool may already exist in your organization! Do a thorough search of what data movement tools you have in each department.

Chuck Kelley's Answer: I think I would ask this question to SAP. They have done this many times and I believe they have their own way of doing it.

Mike Jennings' Answer: Conducting a proper ETL product evaluation requires substantial time and resources. Business requirements, budgets, timelines and politics are often the key factors in determining which direction a firm takes with its selection.

Some of the initial criteria the ETL method chosen should provide:

  • Facilitating expedient data movement and improve quality of the data
  • Reducing the cost of data integration processing through savings from reduced system utilization plus development and testing costs
  • Significantly reducing the data errors
  • Reducing training time and learning curve to allow broader usage by non-technical employees
  • Enabling standardization and definition of all data
  • Creating documentation
  • Providing productivity gains from maintaining code-centric extraction processes
  • Taking advantage of a meta data centric repository both for ETL and integration with our products (e.g., data modeling, data quality, data profiling, reporting)

Additional questions:

  • Can your ETL tool take advantage of the bulk load/unload utilities of your RDBMS?
  • If virtual co-servers or nodes for the DBMS have been set up on a single server or across servers, can you take advantage of the parallel load/unload features to optimize performance?
  • Can your ETL tool take advantage of the fragmentation strategy used by the DBMS to distribute data from a single table across multiple disks to avoid I/O bottlenecks?
  • What methods do the ETL developer have to control interaction with the DBMS optimizer to perform complex data integration (e.g., star join)?
  • Can your ETL tool take advantage of data warehousing specific indexing methods of the DBMS (e.g., bitmap)?

You should look at ETL products that have a business relationship with SAP. They may offer prebuilt data maps for SAP (SAPR/3 - SAP-BW) that could save you substantial time and effort depending on the level of customization you applied to your SAPR/3 environment.

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