There is a growing trend to migrate SAP HANA databases to the cloud. In particular, many users are preferring Microsoft Azure, due to its strong security and compliance features, and its tight integration with SAP solutions. Azure provides a Tailored Datacenter Integration (TDI) capable of running heavy-duty SAP workloads, and also provides a range of VM sizes certified to run SAP HANA and other SAP applications.
In this article, I’ll explain several key benefits you should consider when migrating SAP HANA to the Azure cloud.
What Is SAP HANA?
SAP HANA is a relational database management system (RDBMS) that achieves very high performance by storing data in a columnar structure, and storing all data in memory instead of on disk.
Due to HANA’s high performance, it is commonly used for scenarios like:
- Real time stream analytics
- Spatial data processing
- Predictive analytics
- Extract, transform, load (ETL) processes
SAP HANA can run in a variety of environments, including local and cloud environments. You can run SAP HANA in the Microsoft Azure cloud, and transfer much of the responsibility for infrastructure management to Azure.
How Does SAP HANA on Azure Work?
SAP has a tight integration with Azure, taking the form of the Tailored Datacenter Integration (TDI) within the Microsoft Azure cloud. The SAP application layer runs on regular virtual machines (VMs). The SAP HANA database runs on HANA Large Instances, in an isolated unit called a Large Instance Stamp, within the TDI environment.
Here is a brief explanation of the three sections of the architecture shown above:
The right section
Displays the on-premises infrastructure, which should ideally connect to Azure using ExpressRoute. This infrastructure runs various applications in the data centers, enabling users to access line-of-business (LOB) apps, like SAP.
The center section
Illustrates the manner in which Azure IaaS uses VMs to host applications using SAP HANA as their database management system (DBMS). Smaller instances of HANA are deployed in the same VMs as their application layer, using the memory provided by the VM.
The left section
Represents TDI-certified SAP HANA software residing in the Azure Large Instance stamp. These Large Instance units connect to your Azure virtual networks using the same technology as your other on-premises connections to Azure.
Communications between HANA Large Instance units and Azure VMs is now possible independently of the ExpressRoute Gateway. This is possible thanks to the ExpressRoute Fast Path optimization, which is represented by the two red lines in the image above.
The computing, storage and network components are combined within the Azure Large Instance stamp. Computing is executed through Intel Xeon processor-based servers that are SAP HANA certified.
Storage capacity is subject to the configuration deployed and can be expanded for an additional monthly fee. The network between these and other LAN components is through a unified high-speed network fabric.
Customers within the Large Instance stamp, multi-tenant infrastructure, are arrayed as isolated tenants and classified as an Azure subscription within your Azure enrollment, which is the one the HANA Large Instance is billed to.
A network can access a HANA Large Instance unit subordinated to a tenant in another Azure region from any other virtual network, regardless of Azure subscription, so long as they belong to the same enrollment.
7 Reasons to Run SAP HANA on Azure
1. Lower Upfront and Operational Costs
By migrating to SAP HANA, you can easily scale up or down using Azure infrastructure, providing flexibility and also significant cost savings. Forrester research shows that companies saved up to $7.2 million in hardware costs and a 20% in operational costs YoY by moving SAP applications to Azure, rather than upgrading their own data centers.
2. Faster Time to Market
The same study shows that Azure helps companies release new SAP instances quicker, reducing testing time and error-related delays. According to the study, savings as a result of faster release cycles can reach as much as $3.3 million.
3. Automated Backup and Disaster Recovery Systems
Because SAP integrates with Azure Site Recovery, critical workloads are easily replicated between on-premises and cloud. Another advantage is the ability to build multi- or single-region recovery systems to maintain required RPO and RTO values.
4. Improved Workflows and Data Sharing
Running SAP HANA on Azure enables collaboration across geographical regions and real-time file sharing on almost any device. You can also leverage SAP to gain real-time insight for IIoT deployments across a wide range of physical assets. You can achieve this by integrating Microsoft’s IoT hub with SAP Leonardo.
5. Integrated Offerings Supporting Large Scale Deployments
Azure offers extra-large instances supporting huge SAP HANA deployments, including Mv2 VMs with up to 6 TB of memory, and custom SKUs with up to 24 TB of memory and up to 480 Intel CPU cores.
6. Azure is Preferred by Larger Enterprises
Global 2000 company executives polled by Goldman Sachs identified Azure as their preferred cloud hosting service. The executives explained their choice, saying that Azure provides service reliability, innovative database services and other platform as a service (PaaS) offerings, and an extensive array of integrations. SAP products are certified, tested, and integrated with Microsoft Azure.
7. Adoption Among Large Enterprises
Before releasing its SAP offering to the public, Microsoft moved all its own SAP systems to Azure, paving the way for businesses of any size and complexity to shift their SAP activities to Microsoft’s cloud. 90% of Fortune 500 companies are now using SAP on Azure.
There are many great choices for moving SAP HANA to the cloud, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, and IBM Cloud. Among these choices, Azure shines as a robust option that is highly suitable for large enterprise deployments.
I explained the basic architecture of SAP HANA on the Microsoft Azure cloud, and covered the key benefits of Azure for SAP mission critical workloads:
- Research shows Azure provides significantly lower upfront and operational costs compared to local data center deployment
- Azure enables faster time to market with SAP HANA solutions, because of the advanced automation and development tools it provides
- Azure provides automated backup and recovery capabilities that enable more robust disaster recovery than in an on-premises data center
- Azure enables advanced workflows across the software development lifecycle, and makes it easy to integrate data sources such as IIoT data feeds
- The Azure SAP integration supports large scale deployments with automatic scalability
- Azure is identified by industry analysts as a leading choice of large enterprises
- 90% of Fortune 500 companies run SAP on Azure, meaning that Azure is a tested choice for large-scale enterprise deployments
I hope this will be of help on your journey to migrating SAP workloads to enjoy the benefits of cloud infrastructure.