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SAP Deployment: A 5-Step Process and 3 Cloud Deployment Options

What is SAP Deployment?

For SAP environments, which today are primarily based on SAP HANA, companies have a variety of deployment options. The SAP environment no longer lives in isolation. Many organizations deploy SAP systems to the cloud, which requires additional integration and complexity, but enables the organization to fine-tune and optimize the environment for different business needs. Even if SAP is primarily deployed locally, it is likely that at some point some of the environment will extend to the cloud.

In this article, we’ll provide a general process for SAP implementation and deployment, and discuss SAP deployment options in the cloud.

In this article, you will learn:

SAP Implementation: A 5-Step Process

Below is a general process for implementing and deploying SAP solutions in your organization. The process includes preparation, sizing, functional development, cutover, and finally going live.


At the outset of a SAP implementation project, the organization should appoint a Technical Support Organization (TSO). This is a team that designs and executes the SAP solution vision—this is a plan for the future state of the SAP solution. The plan should:

  • Detail the business requirements and show how the SAP solution addresses them.
  • Show how the SAP solution will meet the allocated budget.
  • Clarify what is missing from current systems and how the new SAP system should improve on them.
  • Clarify non-functional needs like scalability, security, ease of operation, and high availability.


This stage of the project involves an analysis of project total cost of ownership (TCO). The team should consider different options for SAP stacks (with different hardware and software options), determine the cost of each stack, and see which configuration will deliver the best value at the lowest cost.

Important considerations during the sizing phase include:

  • High availability and disaster recovery—plan what happens if the SAP system goes down due to hardware, power, or software failure. Calculate the expected cost of downtime to see how much to invest in availability and what should be the recovery time and point objective (RTO/RPO).
  • Pricing from SAP solution vendors—contact several companies that can provide the stack on which you will run the SAP solution. Consider how many concurrent users the system needs to support, and volume of data processing. SAP can assist by providing a sizing proposal and recommending which stack is most appropriate per the solution vision.
  • Perform installations—once the data center is ready, the team should prepare operating systems and databases per SAP system requirements, and deploy SAP software. Consultants from the SAP solution vendor may be involved at this stage.

Functional Development

The next stage is to develop the solution to meet all the requirements defined in the planning phase. Because SAP solutions are typically mission critical and affect many parts of the organization, the process needs to be managed carefully:

  • Change management—establish a process for managing changes introduced by different parts of the TSO and others in the organization, to ensure that changes are productive and minimize risk.
  • Operations management—SAP systems need to be maintained on a day-to-day basis. Create an operations manual that documents the current state of the system, and describes ongoing maintenance processes.
  • Testing—before going to production, the SAP system must undergo functional testing (checking that it provides the required business functions), integration testing (ensuring it works well with other organizational systems) and regression testing (ensuring that changes made to the system did not cause degradation of functionality.


Cutover refers to the transition from the existing system providing the relevant business service to the new SAP system. This transition must be carefully planned to prevent disruption of critical services and loss of productivity. Important tasks during the cutover phase include:

  • Finalizing critical system processes like backup strategy and system monitoring
  • Assigning ownership of SAP functional processes to individuals in the organization
  • Allow SAP to review and validate the system—this is known as a GoingLive check
  • Once everything looks good, lock down configurations to prevent any more changes to the system

Going Live

Finally, the SAP system can go live. Users typically undergo training on the new solution and start using it in production. The TSO should carefully monitor initial usage of the solution, gather feedback from users, and adjust the solution accordingly.

SAP Cloud Deployment Options

Most modern SAP deployments involve a cloud element. Many SAP solutions today are deployed entirely in the cloud. Here are the primary cloud-based deployment options supported by SAP.

SAP Public Cloud

The public cloud is a DIY option for SAP cloud deployment. If you already have an experienced SAP technical team who are interested in moving to the cloud, this is a good choice. Public cloud providers provide the necessary infrastructure for deployment, as well as migration services, but the organization’s SAP team will be responsible for either doing this themselves or choosing an implementation partner to handle migration.

At first glance, this may seem like the cheapest option, but keep in mind that infrastructure typically makes up less than 20% of the total cost. To run enterprise applications in the cloud, you need to consider the cost of ongoing administration and maintenance of the software stack. In general, the public cloud is a cost-effective option, because it eliminates the data center aspects of a SAP deployment.

If you choose public cloud, the first thing to consider is your SAP cloud migration plan. Once the team has learned the migration process, they should consider how to manage the SAP solution in production. Public clouds typically guarantee SLAs at the infrastructure level, so this must be kept in mind while planning the migration. The team should ensure they have procedures for robust backup and recovery procedures, and must pay attention to high availability and disaster recovery, which can be readily implemented in the cloud by choosing the right infrastructure options.

HANA Enterprise Cloud (HEC)

HEC is one level up from the service provided by public cloud providers, because it includes technical application management services. This is a good choice if your current SAP solution is quite standard, and you find SAP support services and processes suitable.

SAP publishes standard service catalogs and service level agreements. Make sure these services and SLAs meet your requirements, especially if you want to reduce or redistribute your internal SAP technical team. The standard uptime for production systems is guaranteed at 99.5%, while the standard uptime for non-production systems is guaranteed at 95%, but improved SLAs are available at an additional cost.

Note that SAP may limit the software that can be installed on HEC systems. If you are investing in additional software, make sure it is supported. You probably won’t be able to migrate to HEC if your SAP system is closely integrated with non-SAP solutions.

Another caveat is that HEC services are not always provided directly by SAP Operations. SAP may outsource services to partners like IBM and HPE, who are also committed to the same service definitions and SLAs, but may provide a different quality of service.

SAP-Managed Private Cloud

Private cloud hosting is a good option for highly customized SAP environments. It is a managed service provided by SAP and its partners. It enables the organization to create a deployment closely suited to their needs, running on-premises but with full cloud capabilities. This option leverages the SAP Cloud Platform and SAP Leonardo, enabling organizations to develop highly customized applications.

SAP Deployment with Azure NetApp Files

Azure NetApp Files is a Microsoft Azure file storage service built on NetApp technology, giving you the file capabilities in Azure even your core business applications require.

Get enterprise-grade data management and storage in Azure so you can manage your workloads and applications with ease, and move all of your file-based applications to the cloud.

Azure NetApp Files is certified for use with SAP HANA and solves availability and performance challenges for your production landscapes.

With built-in enterprise data management capabilities, Azure NetApp Files lowers your business risk profile and reduces the time to backup and recover your database in the case of local disruptions or regional disasters. Azure NetApp Files can accelerate SAP HANA deployments, reduce costs, speed up development/testing projects, and provide increased agility for your business processes.

Want to get started? See Azure NetApp Files for yourself with a free demo

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