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SAP on Azure

SAP HANA Migration: Methods and Considerations

What is SAP HANA Migration?

SAP HANA is a column-based in-memory database that can be deployed locally or in the cloud. Compared to traditional databases, SAP HANA provides superior performance and reliability, enabling companies to improve and simplify processes and increase ROI for the entire SAP environment.

In recent years, SAP HANA has been an integral part of SAP's global strategy, and most new versions of SAP products rely on it. As a result, organizations are migrating from their existing databases to SAP HANA.

This document can help you plan and carry out your technology migration to the SAP HANA platform. It aims to outline an organization's methods, processes and precautions for migrating to SAP HANA.

This is part of our series of articles about SAP on Azure.

In this article, you will learn:

SAP Migration Concepts

SAP database migration involves moving or copying a database from one server host to another server host with or without changes to the database type and operating system.

You can migrate your SAP system database to the following locations:

  • Another server host with the same database and operating system
  • Different server host with the same database type and different operating system
  • Different server host with different database type and the same operating system
  • Different server hosts with different database and operating system

SAP has two concepts related to system migration: homogeneous and heterogeneous system copy, explained below.

Keep in mind that in both types of migration, the combination of operating system and database must be supported by SAP, and you might need to upgrade the operating or database on the source system before performing the copy.

Related content: 5 Ways Cloud Teams Can Ensure Successful SAP Migration and Management

Homogeneous System Copy

This involves moving or copying a SAP system to a new environment, given that:

  • The source system and target system use the same operating system and database.
  • The hardware architecture remains unchanged, or the target system is SAP-certified for homogeneous system copy.

You can use a variety of methods for homogeneous system copy:

  • Using SAP migration tools for database export and import.
  • Using standard backup tools supported by the database to backup the database and recover it to the new location.
  • Using hardware-based migration tools to clone the database to the new location
  • Virtual machine (VM) copying.

Heterogeneous System Copy

This involves moving or copying an SAP system to a new environment, given that:

  • The source system and target system use different operating systems and/or databases
  • There may be a hardware architecture change

You must use the following method for a heterogeneous system copy:

  1. Export the source database to a file, which is not dependent on the database and operating system.
  2. Import it to the target system using official SAP migration tools.

SAP HANA Migration Options

There are three main ways to migrate a database to SAP HANA.

Migration Option

Migration Type Supported


Conventional Migration

Homogeneous Migration

Copy the entire system database using existing tools such as R3load or migration monitor. This is best if you don't need to update the database version during migration.

SAP Software Provisioning Manager (SWPM)


SAP Software Provisioning Manager (SWPM) is a tool that allows you to perform software provisioning processes such as system installation, system copy and migration, and system name change. SWPM is provided with the SAP Software Logistics Toolset. It calls the R3load process at the operating system level to migrate SAP ABAP stack DB objects, and uses the Jload process to migrate Java stack DB objects.

Software Update Manager (SMO)

Homogeneous / Heterogeneous

SMO is a SAP tool that provides a database migration option (DMO), which combines SAP software updates and database migration. If the source system is not at the software level supported by the SAP HANA database, DMO performs a combination of upgrade and migration.

The DMO can also be used for automatic migration without changing the SAP software level, i.e. without upgrading. This is called DMO without System Change. DMO also supports upgrading the database together with the application server—this is called “DMO with System Move".

 Related content: read our guide to SAP HANA architecture

SAP HANA Migration Considerations

Here are a few key considerations before migrating your database to SAP HANA.

Evaluate Business Needs

Enterprises interact with SAP either directly through the SAP user interface or indirectly through the services SAP provides to other applications. Migration can disrupt many of these processes. Evaluate your business processes and see which processes are really in use, and which are not.

Make a list of all business processes related to SAP systems and identify which ones:

  • Should be migrated "as is".
  • Should be modified or updated as part of the migration.
  • Should not be migrated—because they are no longer needed or can continue working with the legacy database.

Include users and business experts in the evaluation process to minimize the risk to critical business processes. Proactively ask for requirements and suggestions, and act on them to ensure that during and after the migration, there is minimal loss of productivity.

Cloud vs On-Site Deployment

One of the key questions to answer when migrating to HANA is whether to move to an on-premise platform or a cloud platform.

If you choose to deploy in the cloud, you can leverage the SAP private cloud service, SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud. This platform comes with an SAP HANA software license, a basic cloud infrastructure, and a set of SAP cloud services. The platform is available on major cloud providers including Microsoft Azure.

For on-site deployment strategies, choose certified SAP HANA devices that can be installed by SAP hardware partners. Once equipment is installed, you can utilize the computing capabilities of the SAP HANA memory platform. You can also choose the Tailored Datacenter Integration (TDI) method to integrate SAP HANA into your systems using existing hardware.

Don't Forget the Broader Ecosystem

SAP systems are usually integrated with other systems. Integration failure can disrupt an organization's critical business functions. Therefore, your migration test should cover the entire environment, including SAP systems, dependent systems, and any integrated systems.

In order to perform effective testing, use test automation to simulate various application program interfaces, and interact with the various technologies and protocols that make up your environment. Identify problems early and find solutions before carrying out the migration. 

Roll Out Changes Continuously

As with any large software project, it is easy to underestimate the amount of work required to implement a particular function. Minimize risk through DevOps and continuous delivery practices. Don’t wait for all features to be available—break out your system into smaller pieces and deploy it as soon as possible, to start collecting feedback.

In the process of migrating to the new system, keep the old system available so that users can still access features that have not yet been migrated to the new system. This can minimize business impact during the migration period.

SAP HANA Migration 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 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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