Challenges Faced by Companies While Migrating to SAP HANA


SAP Migration – An Introduction

Migrating an SAP database and application environment, along with the associated system software and unbundled products, is one of the most demanding task any organization can encounter. The most challenging type of migration – Heterogeneous migration – consists of moving from one database architecture to different database architecture. Some of the key points in any migration project would be: Identifying Challenges and issues, Assessing requirements and resources, creating a plan, preparing the infrastructure, performing the migration, validating the migration.


SAP HANA is an innovative next generation business platform that leverages in-memory technology to bring transactions and analytics together, significantly increases the performance of applications, handles structured and unstructured data, and enables reporting without latency. HANA’s open architecture permits simplification of IT delivery processes, solves performance issues, accelerates speed of applications, improves business processes and positively influences user experience.

Initial Steps – Budget, Business Case, Partnership

Key to any migration project would be the Business Case. The required use case, whether it be an Integrated Approach or Side-Car approach or Business Warehouse on HANA migration would be vital to further decisions. The budget consideration based on the business case proves to be a challenging decision which could decide the fate of the migration project. This has dependency on multiple factors like Sizing, Infrastructure, Resources, Migration Strategy and many more. Another challenge would be deciding on the team for executing of project. This could be either an internal team or be entrusted with a trusted partner. Fixing the right partner for the project cause by itself has to go through a multi-stage process for proper fitment. Maintaining a healthy partnership with SAP will also be key factor. Further on, the trusted partner would be providing services to interface with SAP for support.

Planning – Sizing, Infrastructure and Migration Strategy

Sizing of the HANA appliance proves to be critical for any migration project. Optimized sizing would ensure expected performance. This would also ensure requisites for expected data growth. Based on the sizing, the requisite infrastructure needs to be obtained. Key here would be to procure SAP Certified HANA hardware, which all the leading hardware partners are supplying. Procurement of the infrastructure can be done directly by the organisation or through the trusted partner. Sizing and Infra again is linked to the Business Case and budget considerations. All activities need to be performed in a well meshed manner for the smooth undergoing of the migration project.

With the onslaught of Cloud technologies, another major challenge for organisations would be to decide on On-Premise, Cloud or Hybrid strategy. This again depends on the organisation’s security considerations and infrastructure maintenance capabilities. On-Premise would lead to the decision of either having a dedicated team for infrastructure maintenance or having your trusted partner host the infra and provide required maintenance. There are also choices for going on Cloud with HANA – either Private or Public cloud. This would be based on security considerations. Another option would be to have a hybrid model in place.

With the infra in place, choosing the right migration strategy would be the next challenge. There are multitudes of migration tools available with SAP for your migration project. Opting for the standard migration tools or with new migration tools would be dependent on the organizations current landscape and certain requisites. Opting for standard migration strategy would put into effect a multiple step process for migration. There are options for using a single step migration strategy using Database Migration Option in Software Update Manager (SUM) which would help to accelerate the migration project. Based on the current landscape requisites, the optimized migration strategy needs to be determined, which will in turn pave way for the major challenge – project execution.

The Execution – Code Optimization, Cutover, Downtime

With all the challenges in making the right decisions and building blocks set in place with regards to Initial steps and Planning, next challenge would be execution of the plan. Multiple challenges need to be overcome during the execution phase. From a technical perspective, requisite for Unicode & Dual Stack split needs to be considered to proceed using the chosen migration strategy. Once requisites are met, actual migration using the opted migration tool is executed. As in any migration projects, there will be multiple technical reconciliations required for various objects for fitment into the new system. Initial migration is done using a sandbox to overcome all challenges with respect to the technical objects and to go forward with migration of further systems in the landscape.

All required technical objects are initially migrated in the sandbox system to note possible challenges. This would involve both standard as well as custom objects. Fitment of custom objects would be a crucial challenge for every migration so that the organisation can retain the expected functionality. With the involvement of HANA in the landscape, a major expectation is that of higher performance. Once all objects are successfully migrated, the functionalities are tested to confirm the performance. For added benefits it is recommended to perform Code Optimization. This will ensure that your code base is optimized for best performance with HANA as the database and guarantees the expected performance levels for all applications.

Further to this migration activities are performed in other systems like the Development and Quality. Based on user acceptance in the quality system for all functionalities and processes, the final challenge of migrating your Production system and making it available to the organisation for consumption without major hurdles is undergone. This is an extreme situation where the major challenge would be the cutover followed by downtime. Cutover denotes the transition of all crucial data into the new system. Across any organisation, the major concern for any migration project would be to minimize the downtime i.e., to make the Production system available to users without any interruption. It should be as seamless that the business should not face any issues in continuity. This is ensured by the minimum downtime approach. This approach ensures that the system is available to business for usage with minimum discontinuity or no discontinuity.

Knowledge Transfer

Parallel to migration activities in Production system, another challenge would be educating and training the staff on changes and to operate and maintain the new system. This would ensure that beyond Go-live proper handover happens between the partner and the organisation. Knowledge transfer is an essential challenge which needs to be addressed with the required training and handover activities. Beyond go-live, dedicated support is the next challenge which the partner will be providing to rectify and optimize any known issues to maintain the smooth functioning of the system.

Migration to SAP HANA – Conclusion

All challenges noted at various phases of the migration though being independent activities have co-relations with each other. It is the smooth functioning of each of the activities meshed intricately as one single machinery which would ensure the smooth transition to the new SAP HANA system.

There has been an influx of innovations in the SAP universe and beyond based on SAP HANA, which could range from new user experience to improved performance to simplification in functionality and so on. Some of the new features that come along with migrating to SAP Suite on HANA would mean an enhanced user experience utilizing SAP UI5 technology. SAP Fiori apps ensure simplicity and mobility of applications. Another added advantage of having analytical applications linked with real-time data, SAP Fiori apps are suitable across all business users. Hence, migrating to HANA is not synonymous like any other database migration. This would further mean adopting and implementing to the innovations, which will lead to performance boost, simplification of processes, real-time data processing, inclusion of mobility and more.


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