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Integrate SAP HANA into your Power Systems Environment

Kolby Hoezle


Q: What is SAP HANA and how does it integrate into my existing SAP on POWER environment?

What is SAP HANA? This question may seem straight-forward on the surface, but to answer this question, consider the context in which the question is being asked. The term “SAP HANA” is sometimes used interchangeably to refer to the SAP HANA database or to the S/4HANA business suite of applications.

Officially, SAP HANA is SAP’s enterprise relational database. The SQL-compliant database provides similar functionality as other well-known enterprise, relational databases such as Db2* and Oracle. The SAP HANA database differs from these databases in implementation, however, because it primarily stores data by columns instead of by rows. The SAP HANA database is also considered an in-memory database, meaning that the entire database is designed to reside in memory at run-time.

As mentioned earlier, SAP HANA is also often used to refer to SAP S/4HANA, SAP’s next generation ERP software. This is an evolution of SAP’s existing ERP software, SAP Business Suite. Unlike previous versions that support multiple databases, SAP S/4HANA is only supported to run with the SAP HANA database.

To answer the second part of the question, the context is important.

In the context of the SAP HANA database, integrating SAP HANA into an existing SAP on POWER* environment usually means replacing the database in an existing SAP application stack with the SAP HANA database (i.e., Suite on HANA or Business Warehouse on HANA). This requires migrating the data from one database to the other. In this scenario, only the underlying database is changed; the applications and functionality provided by the applications utilizing that database typically don’t change.

In the context of SAP S/4HANA, integrating SAP HANA into an existing Power Systems* environment usually means that the existing SAP ERP software is replaced with SAP S/4HANA. This is potentially much more pervasive than migrating from one database to another because much of the functionality and the business applications will be changing. Integrating SAP S/4HANA is, at best, an upgrade of the existing SAP ERP software. At worst, it’s an entire re-implementation.

Many clients have chosen a more gradual approach to the integration of SAP HANA. In the context of the SAP HANA database, only part of their SAP environment might be migrated to SAP HANA. For example, the SAP BW system might be migrated to the SAP HANA database, while the SAP ERP system continues to run on the existing database. Similarly, in the context of SAP S/4HANA, some clients have chosen a gradual approach to integration by implementing a subset of functionality for only select parts of their business, such as finance.

In summary, SAP HANA is often used interchangeably to refer to a database or to ERP software, and these are definitely not the same thing. So, if someone asks about the integration of SAP HANA into an existing SAP on POWER environment, you now know that you need to answer that by asking a different question: “Are you referring to the SAP HANA database or to SAP S/4HANA?”

Kolby Hoelzle is an advisory software engineer working at IBM development in Rochester, Minn.


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