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SAP HANA Migration Options: Q&A with Frank Powell on Technical Considerations in a Move to SAP HANA

May 14, 2014

Thank you to everyone who joined in our Q&A on SAP HANA migration options with Symmetry Corp.'s Frank Powell. Frank took questions from readers for the hour on evaluating SAP HANA implementation scenarios and requirements, and key issues and challenges of moving to in-memory processing.

Review the chat replay and the edited transcript below.


SAPinsider: Looking forward to our Q&A on preparing for SAP HANA migration and implementation options with Frank Powell of Symmetry Corp.! Today's Q&A will be moderated by HANA 2014 conference producer Bridget Kotelly.

Bridget Kotelly, HANA 2014:  Welcome! Thanks for joining us for today’s Q&A on SAP HANA migration and implementation.

Bridget Kotelly:  We’ll have the hour today with Frank Powell of Symmetry Corp. who will take your questions on moving to SAP HANA, assessing your readiness to make that move, and security and data issues to consider. Welcome, Frank!   

Frank Powell, Symmetry Corporation: Hi everyone! I am Frank Powell - President at Symmetry Corporation - the premier Hosting and Managed Services Provider, certified in SAP Cloud, Hosting and SAP HANA Operations Services. I am happy you were able to join us today and hope to have a great discussion regarding SAP HANA and answer your questions technical questions regarding migrations, performance enhancements, technical requirements, tips and tricks, and any other questions you may have. Let's get started!

Bridget Kotelly:  Frank, we already see a number of questions from our readers waiting you, so I’ll let you get started on those now.

Comment From Mark Easley: Does HANA create its own database, or is it reading BW/SAP directly?

Frank Powell: This is a common question and a good one to start with. Yes, HANA is a separate database and replaces your traditional database, like SQL or Oracle.

Comment From Rizwan ul Haque: If an organization implements SAP HANA, there is no need to keep the physical database layer (e.g., Oracle, Sybase, SQL Server, etc.), correct?

Frank Powell: Correct. Oracle, SQL or Sybase would be replaced by HANA. HANA is the new physical database layer.

Comment From Guest: At a database level, what database does HANA use - SAPDB or DB2?

Frank Powell: HANA IS the database. No other RDBMS is used if you convert to HANA.

Comment From Guest: Hi, How does HANA help customers if they implement HANA in a side-car approach?

Frank Powell: Side-car applications allow you to take advantage of HANA for a very specific application component without having to convert your entire ECC system to HANA. COPA is a good example.

Comment From Ahmed: What are the considerations for SAP HANA security?

Frank Powell: In relationship to the SAP application layer, security is the same. Security at the underlying database layer is slightly different, but similar to other traditional databases.

Comment From Andrei: What are specifics on SAP Archiving solution implementation for the Business Suite on HANA (CRM/ERP) and NLS solutions for BW on HANA?

Frank Powell: Archiving for the most part doesn't change relative to functionality; however the storage of those files may change slightly. However, the most common near-line storage products would still work.

Comment From Fernando B Gomes: HANA seems really tuned for OLAP processing (massive loads / massive reads), so a good reason to migrate BW. However, which reasons would lead one to migrate ECCs (OLTP/multiple parallel reads-writes), which are already established in traditional RDBMS?

Frank Powell: For ECC, it really is more about how, due to the speed of processing, business processes can change. Running MRP many times a day, closing financial periods in hours, or managing global inventory in minutes are now possible.

Many of these new functions are possible, but data in large system in the old style of just running multiple reports becomes out-of-date very quickly. Think of inventory control while orders are being processed throughout the day - analysis is now instantaneous.

Comment From Regi: How much time is estimated to migrate, e.g., 1TB into HANA?

Frank Powell: Migrating a 1TB system could still be accomplished in a weekend outage, but the runtime is very dependent on your hardware and whether you are already UNICODE or not.

Comment From Andrei: Any extra cost of porting existing ERP or BW solutions on HANA, besides migration project expenses?

Frank Powell: There are specific hardware requirements which may require you to purchase more hardware. VMware is being supported but still requires specific configurations.

Comment From Guest: What does a typical HANA migration look like for ECC?

Frank Powell: It looks very similar to a heterogeneous migration. Generally 3-6 months, doing a test migration on a SBX environment, functional testing, etc. The net result should not change your standard environment by just moving to the HANA platform.

Comment From Guest: For a customer to migrate to HANA , in addition to the HANA appliance and also migrating applications  (ECC, SRM, etc.), what else is involved?

Frank Powell: At a high level, that's mostly it. The prerequisites have to be met and you would also need to decide if you were going to turn on new functionality, but that is not required.

Comment From Roger Lozada: Is migration to SAP HANA is as easy as a "heterogeneous copy" or are there other procedures?

Frank Powell: Yes, it is essentially the same process, however there are many more prerequisites to go to HANA than moving to a more traditional RDBMS.

Comment From Roger Lozada: Will the migration to SAP HANA also change the ABAP language to another?

Frank Powell: The ABAP code is not replaced nor does it change after converting to HANA.

Comment From Syed Rahman: How does HANA impact custom development?

Frank Powell: It should run the same as before, only faster.

Comment From BG : Are there specific SAP products offered for the HANA solution? 

Frank Powell: Business Suite (ECC, CRM, SRM, etc.) and BW are all supported today. More in the future. You can also buy HANA as a standalone database for developing custom apps.

Comment From Regi: How are APO/LiveCache implementations enhanced with HANA?

Frank Powell: Although LiveCache is still supported if you run SCM (APO) on HANA, you can run the LiveCache functionality directly in the HANA database now, improving performance.

Comment From Guest: If an organization does not have/need BW but has, say, ECC and SRM, does it still help them to use HANA? If so, how?

Frank Powell: Yes. First, all your applications would run faster. Second, with ECC on HANA, for example, there is additional functionality that does not exist in the standard ECC. Symmetry can help you determine which those are.

Comment From Guest: At our organization, we are trying to figure out how HANA can be used for other non-SAP applications (say Oracle-based, etc.). Can you tell us more about this?

Frank Powell: HANA can be bought separately, as a standalone database, to be used for any development. However HANA is just starting to gain support for third-party applications as a supported database platform.

Comment From Anitha: If a client has already implemented BWA, is it beneficial to go for a HANA on BW implementation?

Frank Powell: In this case I would say that it would be slightly beneficial on the performance side, but HANA is the next step in evolution for BW performance, and would be the next logical upgrade path.

Comment From Regi: How do you handle refreshes, data and disaster recovery with HANA?

Frank Powell: Big question. In short, all of these functions are handled under HANA, but just like the difference between Oracle and SQL, HANA is just a little different.

Comment From Roger Lozada: Are there any commercial tools to backup the SAP HANA database? or, the database is backed up as files or snapshots?

Frank Powell: Yes. most backup tool vendors already have support for HANA, however, if they do not, it’s fairly easy to create a backup routine to satisfy the requirement of the tool you do own.

Comment From Wali Ali: My main concern is how can we leverage our existing SAN in our shop happens to be NetApp. Do we have to build an IDT or there are number of SAP HANA partners that offer the NetApp solution with their certified appliance?

Frank Powell: The HANA appliance storage itself is dependent on the appliance hardware vendor; however existing infrastructure can be used for near-line backups, DR, instance storage, archives and other needs. Remember the size of the database (in memory) and on disk will be reduced significantly as well.

Comment From Guest: How long until SAP turns off support for all but HANA, forcing the database change?

Frank Powell: I have not seen any date on this topic, but assume it will be a long time. SAP realizes the investment customers have made in other DB technologies.

Comment From Jeff Pitt: Dr. Berg says with HANA you don't need BW. Do You agree?

Frank Powell: Not necessarily. If you were only using BW to run operational reports of ECC data that may be true. The reality, however, is that many customers use BW as a consolidation system for other third-party data and for summary data. You would not want to put that in an ECC HANA system and would still keep BW.

Comment From Ron: I have heard it is expensive to implement or migrate to HANA. Has that changed, and is HANA viable for a SMB company?

Frank Powell: This is dependent on many factors but the best way to justify the cost is to fully understand the positive impacts on your business and the ROI it can provide.

Comment From Roger Lozada: Obviously not everyone needs or could migrate to SAP HANA. Then, for whom it this migration recommended? Is it only to get more performance?

 Frank Powell: Performance is the obvious reason - and for BW that may need to be the only reason. For ECC, though, there is additional functionality that allows customers to perform functions not previously available. You can get a list of those apps on SAP's website.

Comment From Guest: SAP claims to have moved a lot of processing from the application layer to the database layer, thereby reducing hundreds of lines of code. Can you throw any insight into this?

Frank Powell: I don't have any specific stats, but this is the direction to improve performance. There are additional processing engines within HANA to aid in this. I know there is detailed info on this on SAP's website.

Comment From Guest: How many companies have adopted ECC on HANA so far?

Frank Powell: I don't have the exact number but it is in the hundreds.

Comment From BG: Is the HANA solution viable, from a cost perspective, for small and medium size businesses? Does Symmetry currently support any small and medium size companies utilizing your HANA cloud offering?

Frank Powell: Yes, maybe most viable for an SMB. And Symmetry does have solutions for any size company and for any SAP product.

Comment From Regi: Are there benchmarks comparing IBM AS400 + solid state drive SAP implementations with HANA for SMBs?

Frank Powell: I am not aware of any direct comparisons.

Comment From BG: Is there a migration from HANA to a traditional RDBMS if a customer decides that they no longer want to use the HANA solution?

Frank Powell: Yes.

Comment From Anitha: Are there any limitations in implementing Inventory Management scenario (NKF) in HANA instead of SAP BW?

Frank Powell: None that I'm aware of technically.

Comment From BG: Are there companies that offer HANA as a cloud solution?

Frank Powell: Yes. Symmetry does, for example.

Comment From Guest: How does HANA work?

Frank Powell: This requires a longer answer, but in short, it’s an in memory database that functions more efficiently than a traditional RDBMs. All standard operational functions are supported just like any other database, including DR, refreshes, custom development, etc. Symmetry would be happy to have a more detailed conversation on this, if you have the time to discuss.

Comment From Regi: Can you elaborate on Symmetry?

Frank Powell: Symmetry is an SAP technology consulting company focusing on Cloud, hosting, BASIS, Security, managed services and project work.

Comment From Syed Rahman: Can you tell us why companies would go to HANA Cloud? Is it cheaper to go to HANA Cloud?

Frank Powell: Generally it is a cheaper solution when you consider ALL of the factors that go into operating and maintaining the environment.  Symmetry has some specific information on this very topic.

Comment From Roger Lozada: At Symmetry Corp, HANA cloud is only the database or also involves the application servers? Any other service involved?

Frank Powell: Our HANA cloud is only a portion of what we support. You could have one application (anything) in our HANA cloud, and we would also host other SAP apps or 3rd party apps on traditional databases also. Symmetry also does traditional hosting if you’re not looking for specifically a cloud option.

Comment From Syed Rahman: Can you recommend any documents/links for Customers who are considering HANA?

Frank Powell: Below are some good links to get started with, which will take you to many more...


Bridget Kotelly:  That wraps up our Q&A for today. Thanks again for joining us.  And thanks again to Symmetry Corp’s Frank Powell for joining us.

Frank, thank you for all the advice and tips today! 

Frank Powell: Thank you again for taking the time to join our Q and A today. I hope I was able to answer your SAP HANA questions. If you have any additional questions, please call 414-732-3100 or visit our website at, to learn about Symmetry's full SAP HANA solution offering; migration services, readiness service, hosting, cloud hosting and ongoing steady state managed support.

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