Clarification on the impact of Unicode encoding for SAP upgrades
Unicode can involve using up to 4 bytes for some characters, depending on the encoding scheme used. For SAP systems the encoding scheme in the database varies from vendor to vendor. For example, Oracle uses CESU-8 and MS SQL Server uses UTF-16.
The key issue with upgrades to ERP 6.0 however is that all data in the database needs to be converted to Unicode - and this means additional downtime for the SAP system. Therefore a data archiving strategy is best implemented before an upgrade as it will reduce the overall volume of data and hence the costly conversion time.
The fact that the database can be larger after the upgrade because of the Unicode encoding can lead to additional data management problems. Again data archiving could help here by reducing volumes.
Aside from the Unicode issue, we are finding that SAP users generally can make their upgrade process easier by using archiving to reduce the size of their database.