Last updated on August 20, 2018
SAP HANA is known for its next-generation business platform bringing transactions and analytics together. With SAP HANA, you can expect to increase the application performance by enabling reporting without latency. HANA provides an open architecture that simplifies the delivery processes, reduces performance issues, provides room for innovation, and positively influences user experience. Larger organizations are opting for a cautious approach in the journey towards SAP HANA to reduce the associated risks. The first logical large step is the upgrade of the core ERP system onto the SAP HANA database platform.
Migrating any database is a huge task, and migrating an SAP database and application environment, is a mammoth one demanding organization level efforts. The process needs separate and continuous attention with clear planning and apt operational execution. The key areas to give attention are:
From Business Case to Deployment
A correctly prepared business case drives the approach for migration. The budget considerations are based on the business case, and it can be challenging to decide the best fit deployment option. Also, we have other dependencies like the sizing of the database, available infrastructure and resources, migration strategy and so on. Also, execution can be done using internal resources or outsourcing the entire project to a trusted partner. Choosing the correct partner itself is a project cause as it demands a clear understanding of the requirements and multi-decision making.
Planning the Resources and Strategy
Planning for current and futuristic increased needs of database growth is crucial as the sizing of HANA appliance is critical for any migration project. Optimized sizing ensures expected performance. Correct sizing also provides a correct requirement for the infrastructure. Sequence, size and after-activity precautions needs to be well planned and thought off for the smooth execution of the migration project.
Selecting the Option
The most critical part of the entire process is to select the deployment option that best suits your organization’s business model, needs, budget, and resources. The options are
Selecting the correct option depends on the organization’s security considerations and infrastructure maintenance capabilities. If you select the on-premise option, you need to decide about the resources: a dedicated team for infrastructure maintenance or having a trusted partner providing maintenance. You may also opt for Cloud with HANA with either private or public option based on security considerations. The third option is to have a hybrid model.
With the infrastructure in place, choosing the correct migration strategy is another challenge. SAP provides many tools for your migration project and depending on the organization’s landscape one can select the suitable option. Based on the organizational landscape, the optimized migration strategy may be determined which guides the journey towards execution.
Recommendations for planning and execution
It may seem logical to start with the development system. However, it is recommended to start with the full-size system or production as soon as possible as it enables you to see how it works on a real system. A production copy has full database size, and you can also build a detailed runbook based on a simulation of production. This approach is not possible with the development systems with a different code base.
Getting obsolete data out
SAP HANA is an in-memory database. So you can delete the unrequired data even before migrating to HANA. Housekeeping activity to delete the data can take days to complete and hence it is recommended to start this activity early in the process. By this, you ensure almost nil impact on the business operations.
To make it available, installing production hardware early is recommended with high availability (HA) cluster. With this, you can get it ready for the first sandbox.
Cut cost by rolling other changes
As with HANA, the number of test cycles is more, rolling in additional changes can improve the stability and reduce the costs.
See a bigger picture
Instead of focusing only on the SAP systems, it is advisable to consider the entire business suite as a system. This means that you can upgrade or update other areas such as PMO, Warehouse, and Portals at the same time. Integrated efforts are more fruitful than the separate ones.
Focus on test management
For organizations, the SAP Business Suite on HANA is the first step to get S/4HANA, and it involves enormous testing in the future. It, therefore, makes sense to evaluate your test management system and ensure modern tools and test automation are in place.
Custom code remediation
Custom code remediation is a MUST on HANA as SAP optimizes the Business Suite on HANA. However, the custom code is not optimized by default which can lead to performance issues. For this, SAP Solution Manager has Custom Development Management, Usage and Procedure Logging and Clone Finder.
Identify and benchmark critical processes
Each organization has different critical processes. It is important to benchmark them to ensure that they are measured in the test process. It is also important to ensure that these processes are optimized for the HANA platform.
Executing the plan
Once a robust plan is made considering all the requirements and resources, executing the plan is the next major step and probably with all the major hiccups. The approach involves a step-by-step strategy:
A major, but mostly neglected challenge in database migration is making an effort to educate and train the staff for the expected changes and how to operate and maintain the new system. An organization needs to ensure a handover of operational modus operandi from the partner organization if involved. Migration is single time activity, but the knowledge transfer may continue for next few days well beyond the go-live. Another challenge is to provide 24/7 dedicated support to remove the known issues and maintain system functioning.
For any migration from the existing system to a new one, various phases of independent activities need to be coordinated with each other. For migration to SAP HANA, as the technology is based on innovation, new user experience with improved performance using simplification in functionality is expected. SAP HANA brings new features with SAP Suite on HANA ensuring simplicity and mobility of applications. Hence, migrating to HANA is much more than a regular database migration requiring adaptation and implementation of new technology, simplification of processes, real-time data processing, the inclusion of mobility and much more.
This all means that one can afford to be aggressive with timelines. One still needs to do a great job of planning, testing and executing, but it’s possible to move quickly and still be risk-averse. For example, a large SAP BW client moved to HANA in the manufacturing industry in eight weeks and a large SAP ECC client to HANA in 16 weeks, including a large amount of code remediation and thousands of test cases.
Harikrishna Neelam -SAP BASIS Lead, S/4HANA(On-premise & Cloud)@YASH Technologies
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