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When an organization goes about planning for an Enterprise Resource Planning system, there is just one market leader – SAP. As you might already know, SAP is a forerunner in software that assists organizations in managing logistics, financials, human resources, and much more.

SAP’s product inventory has expanded annually and the company now regularly develops relevant state of the art technologies. A product worth special mention is SAP HANA. SAP HANA has created quite a buzz in its field. The article here takes a look at the intricacies of SAP HANA why users may consider running SAP HANA on AWS in place of on-premises.

What is SAP HANA?

SAP HANA is a relational database platform that has been optimized for analytical (OLAP) and transactional (OLTP) processing. It supports many different enterprise-based applications including BI, ERP, and others. SAP HANA is ACID (Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, Durability) compliant and validity of the data validity. Unlike other disk-optimized databases, SAP HANA has an in-memory database.

The Technology That Powers SAP HANA

Because it resides in-memory, SAP HANA does not rely on the relatively slow speed of the hard drive. This is primarily due to the fact that the data does not need to be read from the disk before it is loaded into the memory.

The benefit is that this enables a much better all-around performance. Additionally, SAP HANA organizes data in columns, instead of in rows. This in contrast to what was earlier commonly used in traditional relational database management systems.

As a majority of the queries usually look for a specific set of columns, this method helps mitigate the need to load a voluminous collection of data to provide a particular answer.

Given these capabilities, SAP HANA provides much needed advanced features, including predictive analysis, real-time analytics, and integrated data mining. Additionally, SAP HANA combines OLTP and OLAP within a single structure, thereby reducing the database footprint when attempting to remove in-memory duplication. That said, consuming memory for such a vast set of information comes with its own set of disadvantages— precisely, in terms of expensive hardware requirements.

SAP HANA: The Physical Appliance

SAP HANA can be used as a physical appliance or as a public cloud service similar to AWS. If you prefer to use it as an on-premise appliance, SAP supports certified SAP HANA hardware. The company collaborates with manufacturers to design equipment that is in sync with the needs of high-performing HANA environments.

These constraints include memory chips for compute nodes which provide maximum bandwidth, are homogeneous, and are capable of spreading across multiple CPUs symmetrically. A few of the certified vendors hardware for the SAP HANA appliance hardware include Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Dell, Cisco, and Fujitsu.

However, specialized hardware like this comes at a cost. Considering the appliance, the necessary architecting and administration, potential hardware upgrades, the cost of ownership of the SAP HANA appliance the end price might be a bit too high. This is where an alternative comes in - SAP HANA on AWS.


Executing SAP HANA on AWS, instead of on-premises, simplifies the management of the application. To start, with AWS, users only need to manage their SAP application. The physical infrastructure is owned and operated by AWS. Even considering that managing SAP HANA on is no easy task, and will probably need experienced experts, but offloading the hardware maintenance to the designated cloud provider will save time and money.

Additionally, when it comes to AWS, users only pay for what they use. This means they can rent the hardware and pay for it per hour. SAP HANA can even be license per the hour, instead of an outright purchase. Additionally, BYOL (bring-your-own-license) is also an option.

To sweeten the deal, AWS allows users to provision their SAP HANA infrastructure quickly. It can be scaled to their environment as needed and can rise to higher levels of availability by relying on multiple Availability Zones as well as SAP HANA System Replication. You can integrate HANA with any EC2 instance and AWS block storage of your choice depending on your requirements.

What Instance Types Can Be Used?

Many different Amazon EC2 instance types can be used to execute SAP HANA on AWS. Given that the service is reasonably memory-intensive, it is suggested to use instances from the memory-optimized family. The more popular options range from the relatively weaker r4.2xlarge (8 CPUs and 60 GiB of memory) to the r4.16xlarge (64 CPUs and 488 GiB of memory).

In case of need for added power, users can explore the x1.32xlarge (128 CPUs and 1,952 GiB of memory). If this falls short, Amazon has released the Amazon EC2 X1e instance family. This can reach as high as 128 CPUs, along with a fantastic 3,904 GiB of memory. Fortunately, this option also boasts the lowest price per GiB of RAM and was explicitly designed for SAP HANA.

What Are Your Pricing Options?

Companies of different needs and sizes can benefit from executing SAP HANA in the cloud. For a full guide of the different pricing options available, click here.

SAP HANA Bring-Your-Own-License

In case users already own an SAP HANA license, the BYOL model is perhaps the most suitable option. Users would only be required to pay for the provisioned on-demand infrastructure on AWS. This option supports production as well as non-production use cases. Users would be able to scale up (if using a single-node SAP HANA setup) to 4TB of memory or scale out (for multi-node configuration) all the way to 50TB when relying on the x1.32xlarge instance.

  1. When it comes to the BYOL model pricing, most of the HANA scenarios are readily available. This includes -

  2. Native SAP HANA applications

  3. Data marts/analytics/big data

  4. SAP Business One HANA


  6. SAP S/4HANA

  7. SAP BW and SAP BPC on HANA

  8. SAP Business Suite (“Suite on HANA”)

  9. SAP HANA One

SAP HANA One gives users a production-ready, on-demand, single-tenant SAP HANA system with an hourly, on-demand license. The system is sold via AWS Marketplace and has fewer options when compared to SAP HANA scenarios. This is largely because it supports only native HANA applications and data marts/analytics/big data. The memory options are limited as well and are limited to 60, 122 and 244GB sizes only.

SAP HANA, Express Edition

The SAP HANA Express Edition is a streamlined version of SAP HANA and can run on laptops and similar hosts that are restricted by the number of available hosts. A free edition, SAP HANA Express supports only in-memory databases with a maximum of 32GB of memory. It is mostly used for non-production environments.

SAP HANA Trial Systems

To test SAP HANA on AWS, the SAP HANA Trial System comes with a free trial license offering. An important point to remember, though, is that similar to SAP HANA, express edition, as a user you will need to pay for the infrastructure used on AWS.

SAP HANA Certification

As you would have guessed, if you desire to learn a new technology or be accomplished in your area of expertise, certifications are an excellent way to demonstrate technical capability and gain confidence.

Today, SAP products are in high demand. Certifications are an excellent way to enter the field—whether as an SAP customer interested in broadening a particular skillset or a professional seeking to begin a career as an SAP consultant.

When it comes to SAP HANA, many certifications are available, including the Certified Application Associate or Certified Technology Associate. The training courses for these papers are usually via an official course. However, many third-party courses provided by websites like Udemy are also available.


SAP HANA is, no doubt, a promising product and offers a high-performance database, as well as an advanced analytical capability that is required for the present business enterprises.

High performance comes with high costs, and perhaps the sole issue with SAP HANA is precisely this—expensive hardware and maintenance that users may not be able to afford. Countering this, SAP has entered into a partnership with Amazon to offer SAP HANA in the cloud which makes it accessible to the general public.

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