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SAP Software Solutions, the creators of SAP HANA, announced in 2019 that the future of SAP HANA is in the cloud. This makes sense when you consider that an estimated 94% of enterprises are already using cloud services. 

For current users of SAP HANA, cloud-based SAP might require you to move workloads to the cloud. It can enable new adopters to take advantage of a previously unaffordable resouces. If you fall into one of these groups, now is the time to start thinking about what SAP HANA in the cloud can mean for you. 

In this article, you’ll learn what SAP HANA is and the benefits of using it in the cloud. You’ll learn your options for running SAP HANA in the cloud. You’ll also learn some best practices to apply to your deployments.


  1. What Is SAP HANA?

    SAP HANA is a column-oriented, in-memory, system for managing relational databases. It functions as a database server that stores and retrieves application data. Since HANA is stored in memory, data can be retrieved more quickly than with traditionally stored databases. SAP HANA is often used for next-generation applications, business intelligence, and analytics. 

    It can perform a variety of advanced analytics, including spatial data processing, predictive analysis, and stream analysis. It can also perform Extract, Transform, Load (ETL) functions, used to transfer data between databases.

    Benefits of SAP HANA:

    • Up to 100x faster than traditional relational databases
    • Uses up to 80% less storage
    • Enables parallel processing
    • Real-time analytics
    • Can work with a variety of data sources and formats


    Drawbacks of SAP HANA:

    • Can only run on SAP or SUSE Linux certified hardware
    • High cost to implement
    • Time-consuming update process


  2. Why Use SAP HANA in the Cloud?

    SAP HANA can be deployed in hybrid, public or private cloud environments. The type of deployment you choose depends on your specific needs. For example, hybrid deployments can enable you to limit high sensitivity data to on-premise workloads without impeding overall scalability.

    Public and third-party, private cloud deployments can help significantly reduce your costs. These platforms enable you to offset the costs of expensive hardware with pay-for-use services. This offset gives you access to significantly more computing, networking, and storage power than you would be able to achieve for the same cost. 

    Cloud deployments enable you to take advantage of scaling and availability that are hard to match on your own. Cloud providers offer resources that are available on-demand and have data centers spread across the globe. Cloud providers also provide access to the latest infrastructure advances without a need to do manual maintenance or upgrading. 

    When you use SAP HANA in the cloud, you can take advantage of already connected services and data sources. For example, Internet of Things (IoT) devices or cloud-native applications.

    Deploying SAP HANA in the cloud also has the potential to grant greater security. Cloud providers typically have greater access to security expertise and enterprise-level security measures than small to medium businesses.

  3. Options for Running SAP HANA in the Cloud

    SAP HANA in the cloud is available directly from SAP via SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud, a managed, private cloud service. It is also offered via Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) by all major cloud providers.

    SAP HANA on Azure

    Runs on SAP certified Virtual Machines (VMs) or on private, dedicated bare-metal servers. You can also use it via integrated, hybrid services, like Azure NetApp Files. Azure supports bringing your own SAP HANA license or licensing jointly through Azure.


    Runs on a combination of EC2, EBS, and Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) services. High Memory instances are available for optimized performance. AWS requires you to bring your own SAP HANA license.


    Runs on SAP certified VMs. GCP offers features for dynamic storage tiering and single or multi-host architectures. GCP requires you to bring your own license.

  4. Best Practices for Using SAP HANA in the Cloud

    Once you decide to run SAP HANA in the cloud, you should keep the below considerations in mind.

    Determine Resource Needs

    Regardless of which service you plan to use, you should carefully analyze the amount of compute, networking, and storage resources you need. A baseline idea of your needs can help you avoid paying for more resources than needed. It can also help ensure that you do not under-provision resources.

    Use Automation

    Use automation whenever possible. Automating your deployments enables you to get up and running more quickly with standardized configurations. Automated data tiering, moves less frequently used data to external storage. Data tiering can help you save storage costs and improve database performance.

    Monitor Your Systems

    Implement full-stack monitoring and real-time alerts. Monitor across your SAP HANA deployments and connected systems. Centralized monitoring and alerting improve your system visibility. It also enables you to more efficiently respond to performance issues since you don’t need to perform investigations to locate issues. 

    Use a Certified Installer

    Installation in the cloud must be performed by a Certified SAP Technology Associate. This is true regardless of the cloud platform you are using. If you do not employ someone who is certified in your installation, you void your ability to receive support from SAP.

  5. Conclusion

    Successfully deploying SAP HANA in the cloud can be a challenging task. Migrating your systems requires significant planning and budgeting of time and money. Adopting new systems isn’t necessarily easier as there is often a steep learning curve. However, the benefits can be well worth the effort. Hopefully, this article helped you understand some of these benefits as well as your options for deployment.

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