SAP HANA: A Comprehensive Guide for Industry Leaders

July 13, 2023

SAP HANA is a powerful tool for decision-making and operational performance—which makes it the enterprise software solution of choice for industry leaders. Amid the floods of data now confronting businesses, this software rapidly extracts useful insights that drive growth and profitability.

New features in SAP HANA include in-memory computing, rendering the system substantially faster than the competition. Moreover, it employs predictive analytics to find otherwise hidden information through data mining. The net result is enhanced efficiency and innovation—along with improved customer outcomes.

With these advanced capabilities, it’s hard to overstate the importance of mastering SAP HANA technology.

In memory computing

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What is SAP HANA?

SAP HANA (or high-performance analytic appliance) is the database management system underlying important enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. It differs from conventional database systems by using high-speed memory instead of slow storage. This allows the solution to power through business processes at unprecedented rates.

There are other distinctions under the hood. For instance, SAP HANA uses a column-oriented design rather than the common row-oriented design. Engineers at SAP have worked out which architecture supports the most efficient calculations for typical business uses. As such, the solution comes packed with functions to run all the main tasks of an enterprise.

With SAP HANA, you can easily create forecasts and reports—or have artificial intelligence automate tedious manual tasks. In essence, the system becomes the central data repository for all business functions. You could use it to bill customers, pay vendors, manage employees, or handle manufacturing. In fact, pretty much any industrial process or business objective.

Advantages of SAP HANA

In addition to its key role of managing your organization’s data, SAP HANA offers a vast array of ancillary benefits, including tools to build web apps and mobile apps. The system can also handle big data in real time—and support any number of employees across a variety of sites with ample security and regulatory compliance.

Another advantage of SAP HANA is its adaptability, letting you run the software on-premise or in the cloud, or in a combination. Furthermore, it has a user-friendly interface as well as features to create professional-grade user interfaces for your own custom applications built on the database.

With the breadth of functionality in SAP HANA, you can apply it to practically any business need. Pre-built content already performs most of the functions you’re likely to want, and the system is completely configurable and extensible. A certified consultant such as Approyo will help you to make the most of all the relevant features, plus any customizations you desire.

SAP HANA—What Industry Leaders Need to Know

SAP HANA is a huge and complex system, so there’s a lot to know. Leaders, however, should focus on the core components, deployments types, and architectures. Gaining this fundamental understanding will help you to streamline operations.


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The principal components of SAP HANA work together as a united whole to present a seamless experience for users. There are several types of servers to deliver content where needed. You also have a client to present the data to the user. Furthermore, the organization’s network infrastructure transports data between servers and clients.

The central component of an SAP system is called an application server, whose job it is to execute the SAP software. Business logic runs on the equipment allocated as your application server, calculating the outputs necessary to keep operations going.

The database server is a related component that handles the underlying information, storing tables of data such as transactions or customers. Additionally, it maintains accurate records and performs fast reads and writes. This is crucial information that the other server components rely on.

A presentation server takes the resultant information and processes it for the user interface. In other words, it makes the output ready for staff to use in their jobs. To give you an idea, there are multiple presentation servers running the Linux or Windows operating system.

Next, you have the clients themselves who engage with the enterprise software. For instance, an employee may connect to the organizational SAP HANA system through a smartphone or a laptop. The latter devices represent the client components.

The network infrastructure comprises a number of switches, routers, and additional communications hardware that moves data among the other components. SAP HANA functions like a nervous system, distributing information and processing data to make headway.

Detailed Server Architecture

Let’s take a deeper dive into the server architecture of SAP HANA. Here, every database leans on the functionality of different types of servers. These may include, for example, a name server, an index server, and a compile server. Each one performs specific tasks that are necessary for the whole architecture to work correctly.

A database can combine a range of these server types to achieve a desired goal. The most critical of these is the index server, which contains the data stores themselves as well as the data-processing engines. This means that while other server types are optional and only used when called for, every database requires an index server.

The name server is only run by the system database. Its purpose is to store information on the entire system, such as the list of tenant databases it hosts. However, the name server does not store the location of tables within tenant databases; rather, each database holds its own information. The name server doubles as the index server for the system database.

The tenant databases only need their own index server. Other server types—like the compile server—don’t need to store data over the long term. Therefore, these servers simply run on the system database and serve all other databases.

To put this in context, suppose you have a range of enterprise applications, each with its own tenant database. Every tenant database will have a dedicated index server and connected clients. Nonetheless, all the applications will connect to the system database’s name server.


Organizations have more than one option available for which SAP HANA system types to deploy. These all use the same basic components to achieve unique goals. Usually, you would have multiple system types working side-by-side to fulfill the diverse needs of an enterprise. The main categories are development, quality assurance, production, and disaster recovery systems.

In the case of development systems, technical teams build new functionality. Software development is the process of creating applications, and this shouldn’t be done on the same systems where other teams are actively running production processes. Hence, separate development systems cater to the needs of development teams.

The production system is where employees use SAP HANA to perform the core duties of your organization. It may encompass several different servers, including application and database and presentation servers, which store and process business-critical data.

Quality assurance (QA) holds the middle ground between development and production. After developers release new functionality, it must be vetted via QA to ensure it works reliably. It’s important to test this code on a system separate from either the development or production systems in the event of any issues.

Finally, there’s a disaster recovery system. This normally looks and works like the production environment, but instead of being used in daily operations, it sits in reserve in case of problems. Then, it’s a simple matter of making the switch to continue uninterrupted operations.

Replication for High Availability and Backups

An advantage of running SAP HANA is being able to replicate (i.e., copy) data to other servers. This option is useful for high availability as well as disaster recovery. Essentially, you have the same data in more places, allowing you to serve more users. In addition, there’s an automatic backup in case one of the locations fails.

For high availability, one uses synchronous replication over short distances within the same availability zone. Alternatively, disaster recovery makes use of asynchronous replication over long distances, covering numerous availability zones. You can have the best of both worlds by combining these two approaches to achieve replication.

Thanks to SAP HANA replication, it’s possible to cut downtime caused by hardware failures, planned maintenance, and more. And because the recovery time is near-instantaneous, you’ll prevent much of the serious fallout that may otherwise have occurred.

Note that replication is a more advanced feature. As such, it can take some weeks, and considerable technical know-how, to set up and test, especially if you include on-premise installations. Further, you’ll need to consider potential challenges—such as different copies becoming disconnected from one another but needing to remain consistent.

SAP HANA cloud automates the installation and monitoring of replication. The system availability is 99.9% uptime, and with synchronous replicas it reaches 99.95%. It only takes a few minutes to enable or disable replicas, so you can easily adjust the configuration to your needs.

With active disaster recovery, your enterprise software stays operational—even in the unlikely event of an entire availability zone collapsing. These availability zones are the groupings of cloud data centers from which data is served. The replicated data is restored to action so your site remains functional.

Cloud Security

A common concern—not just around SAP HANA but also the broader cloud ecosystem—relates to security. Just how secure is the cloud? That all depends on how you manage it. SAP cloud systems are tightly secured, and Approyo can strengthen your installation even further.

Among the leading factors affecting cloud security are those pertaining to physical data centers. The cloud servers Approyo uses to host SAP HANA have earned certifications in data security. Several layers of defense protect the systems against unauthorized access.

The network also has to be protected. As such, there are multiple levels of security, including firewalls, encryption, and vulnerability testing, not to mention audit trails and access controls. Together, these tactics keep intruders out and sensitive data in. Because online attacks regularly evolve, it’s essential to stay ahead of the latest malware.

Another reason to practice good cloud security concerns regulatory compliance. A data breach would subject you to penalties such as fines—on top of the loss of customers and other tolls. As a result, more countries and states are creating privacy legislation, often with an eye on enterprise cloud applications.

Regularly backing up your SAP HANA deployment and preparing to restore backups will help with cloud security. Of course, it’s better to prevent the problem from happening in the first place! Routine monitoring with Approyo Overwatch and penetration testing make cloud security trustworthy enough for hundreds of established businesses.


Two distinct arrangements of SAP architecture are available, depending on the size of the organization—namely, single-system and distributed system architectures.

A single-system architecture has, as the name implies, one server, which consolidates the many functions of SAP HANA. It’s a relatively simple architecture, suitable for small organizations that have minimal needs and resources.

By contrast, a distributed system architecture employs numerous different servers. For this reason, it’s also known as a multiple-host system. Bearing in mind that the demands of larger enterprises cannot be met by a single server, each host has its own SAP HANA database. Moreover, multiple servers provide redundancy and high availability for these big organizations.

Each server (or “host”) provides the necessary hardware and software resources for your SAP HANA landscape. A host has a processor, memory, networking equipment, and operating system. It also contains either the storage medium itself (for a single-system architecture) or a connection to external storage (for a distributed system architecture).

Migration to SAP HANA

Regardless of which architecture you choose, migrating to SAP HANA will boost its performance. The software’s complete toolset and massive scalability make it perfectly positioned to drive modern business enterprises, and those that migrate will see financial savings and a vastly improved customer experience.

Fundamentally, SAP HANA increases your agility to respond to today’s fast-paced business climate. The core processes are solid under any conditions, while new functionality can be easily added. Moreover, it’s been designed to support the latest uses of Internet of things (IoT) and machine learning (ML).

If your legacy system no longer fits the bill, or you’re ready to outcompete the market, it’s an opportune time to migrate. That said, before starting the migration, you’ll need to develop a detailed strategy. Take into account any existing data and software to be migrated, as well as new requirements. Then, you can plan around budgets and requirements to find a practical balance.

Approaches to SAP HANA Migration

Further to your budget, consider the timeline for migration. Even if you need to adjust the timeline as you go, it will help keep the upgrade on track.

There are several stages to any migration. A typical transition from SAP ECC to SAP HANA would go from preparation to technical migration, “delta customization” of your business configuration, data migration, and testing. Finally, you hit “go live” and complete the migration.

It’s also possible to migrate to SAP HANA in a “greenfield deployment,” where you don’t carry over the preceding infrastructure and applications. Instead, you create a fresh install, then bring over the enterprise data. It’s a useful approach if you’re going to rebuild much of your architecture.

Another option is to deploy the SAP S/4HANA Finance module alongside other enterprise software. There’s the RISE with SAP program to migrate older platforms to the cloud. To determine which route is best for your organizational culture and infrastructure, it makes sense to consult with an SAP expert like Approyo.

Migration to SAP HANA enhances digital transformation efforts by bringing together the latest and most capable innovations. As a one-stop shop for data, it simplifies financial and operational processes. Added to that, regular releases make it much easier to keep the system secure post-migration.


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SAP HANA Implementation and Optimization

When deploying and managing SAP HANA, be sure to plan carefully and apply best practices. Planning starts well ahead of implementation and should result in clear objectives. At this time, it’s also a good idea to identify your hardware or cloud infrastructure needs, and choose whether to deploy the solution on-prem, in the cloud, or as a hybrid.

Selecting the appropriate resources will optimize speed, stability, and scalability. With a cloud solution, it’s easier to adjust your infrastructure on the fly. Approyo will help you determine the right size and type of infrastructure for your specific situation.

Throughout the implementation process, you can refer to SAP’s recommended methods and their extensive library of documentation. It’s also worth testing the system during and after deployment—not only to check that it meets your needs but also to maintain a well-functioning network.

After implementation, it’s recommended that you monitor the SAP HANA system to find areas for optimization. Here, Approyo’s Overwatch will help with monitoring IT infrastructure, applications, and data. Other beneficial practices include regularly updating the software and using security tools to protect assets.

Tips and Tricks

Before implementing SAP HANA, ensure you have the right system permissions and are logged into the correct account. Also, double-check that you have valid licenses.

From the project’s inception, you need a team that’s responsible for designing the roadmap. Start with your business requirements; then identify how the SAP HANA solution will address your specific needs. Include areas where it will improve on previous systems.

In addition to functional needs, be sure to note any broader considerations, such as ease of use, high availability, or scalability. These will affect which landscape architecture you choose and where you deploy.

Then, estimate the total cost of ownership (TCO) to establish whether the solution fits your budget. Each possible configuration will have its own TCO. These figures should drive your decisions in respect of infrastructure size and features. Contact a certified SAP consultant for pricing on the basis of your needs.

Now, you’re ready to deploy and optimize SAP HANA. The consultant can help implement precisely the solution you’ve planned. Moreover, they’ll know just how to manage changes and operations to keep mission-critical systems running during and after the cutover.

Why Your Company Should Start SAP HANA Implementation

There are multiple advantages to using SAP HANA, making it a winning choice for companies looking to outpace the competition. The benefits start with a much faster in-memory database than the alternatives. This speed manifests itself in real-time analytics over huge datasets—all of which are simply unattainable using lesser technologies.

The user interface is straightforward and attractive. And because SAP HANA is designed with the cloud in mind, it’s suitable for modern digital methodologies. Hybrid workforces, mergers and acquisitions, new sales channels, and more can be managed with utmost efficiency. It’s a cost-effective system that addresses the needs of practically any industry.

Furthermore, SAP HANA gathers data from a number of different sources. Combining these inputs simplifies data-processing and enables superior insights. The latest data modeling helps make your business processes as close to ideal as current technology allows.

Successful companies globally are already experiencing the benefits of SAP HANA. One example is Italian utility firm Acea, which now uses SAP HANA to optimize its financial processes. In another use case, the digital advisory company Techedge employs software to enable their client’s digital transformation. Meanwhile, the multinational automotive supplier Brose has developed a cloud application that serves thousands of users, streamlining collaboration.

An SAP service provider supports businesses in managing data. Approyo ranks among the top providers, with years of experience handling all aspects of SAP HANA and literally hundreds of systems under management. Whether you need consulting, hosting, or a complete architecture, go with Approyo for an end-to-end solution that works.

Master SAP HANA with Approyo

Gaining a deeper understanding of SAP HANA processes puts you in pole position to lead the competition. This is genre-defining enterprise software, and it offers immense benefits to those who know how to use it. SAP HANA is fast, secure, and feature-rich for every industry.

The principal components of SAP HANA—its application server, database server, presentation server, and client—are all tied together by the network infrastructure. Moreover, there are different deployment types for development, quality assurance, production, and disaster recovery. While smaller organizations utilize a single consolidated server, larger ones are better suited to a distributed system.

Implementing and optimizing SAP HANA gives you access to the leading industry technology. Accompany that technology with expert knowledge to streamline your organization. The sooner you start, the more success you’ll realize.

Learn more about how to fully master SAP HANA by downloading this ebook. Then, when you’re ready to work on your deployment with the leading full SAP service provider, contact Approyo.

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