An Executive Guide to SAP HANA 2.0
There’s a lot of uncertainty among customers about HANA 2.0. A recent survey found that nearly two thirds of SAP customers have not yet performed an SAP HANA migration, and nearly one in five haven’t even made plans to migrate. Many others have only completed their migration in the last year or two, and don’t feel ready for another major project. Many are understandably anxious about the prospect of another HANA upgrade requirement.
If you’re less than thrilled at the prospect of adding to your SAP upgrade stack, we have some good news: SAP HANA 2.0 isn’t a major upgrade. It’s quick, easy, and comes with a number of benefits — particularly for ensuring the stability and performance of your SAP landscape. Here’s what you need to know about SAP HANA 2.0.
SAP HANA 2.0 Basics
SAP HANA 2.0 is a major database upgrade. SAP has two kinds of updates: database upgrades and application upgrades. Application upgrades are denoted by a number with the year and month of release (e.g. S/4HANA 1809), while database upgrades (called Support Package Stacks or SPS) just receive sequential numbers.
Database updates focus on what’s happening behind the scenes. For example, they improve administrative tools and the UI, refine how SAP analyzes and secures data, and provide better management of data replication.
Rather than being geared towards particular use cases, these types of advances can have positive effects throughout your business, making your landscape more resilient and faster, your administrators and developers more effective, and providing new tools that can be used for a wide range of data analysis and machine learning tasks. That differentiates them from functional updates, which add new features for particular applications and use cases, such as warehouse management or finance.
As a database upgrade, SAP HANA 2.0 has some similarities to a support pack in that it focuses on the underlying capabilities of the database. However, SAP HANA 2.0 goes beyond a typical support stack. It’s a major new version, which has itself has been through multiple SPS upgrades.
SAP HANA 2.0 Support
With the release of HANA 2.0, SAP has also altered their update strategy, restricting themselves to one database update per year. For customers who have struggled to keep up with SAP’s update cadence, that can make staying up to date easier and more manageable.
Support for HANA 1.0 was originally scheduled to sunset in 2019. However, customers wanted a longer time frame, and SAP has now extended support through May 2021. By that point, all SAP customers are expected to have upgraded to HANA 2.0.
Why is SAP HANA 2.0 Valuable?
SAP HANA 2.0 features offer major improvements over the original software— particularly in administrative features and UI. The original HANA 2.0 release, SAP centralized controls in the administrative cockpit. From the cockpit, users can monitor and tune the landscape, control upgrades and services, and control user authorization and privileges. HANA 2.0 also makes it easier to administer multiple systems, configure and conduct failovers and failbacks, control the hosting environment and connect to other data sources.
All of this sounds good to the technical team, but the SAP ecosystem has historically struggled to communicate the value of these technical advances to business stakeholders. Sure, it’s nice to make life a little easier for the admins, but why should an improvement in administrative usability or functionality matter to the company as a whole?
Because SAP is the infrastructure your business runs on.
Whether its customers placing orders, workers delivering products and services or executives reporting on the last quarter and planning for the next, everything your business does depends on SAP and the systems it connects to.
That SAP landscape in turn depends on your administrators keeping that infrastructure in good shape, in an environment where any downtime represents an unacceptable loss. Empowering admins to do their job a little more effectively, and make incremental reductions in risk and improvements in performance is a sound investment in your company.
Additionally SAP HANA 2.0 is tactically and strategically beneficial. It gives your admins more precise control with less work, helping you cut costs and improve efficiency. From better user support, to faster and more reliable disaster recovery, upgrading your database is a step in the right direction.
SAP HANA 2 Key Advancements
Data Replication and Protection
HANA 2.0 makes your SAP database more robust, helping to prevent data loss and unplanned downtime, and minimize the damage should such an event occur. One of the most important factors in achieving this goal is improvements of system replication capabilities. Replication is used to create update backup copies of your landscape, to protect it should your system suffer a hardware fault or other serious issue.
HANA 2.0 brings multitarget system replication to HANA, allowing you to automatically copy changes in the primary system to multiple secondary systems — for example, an on-premise high availability system, and a remote copy of your primary and secondary system. That makes it easy to protect against multiple levels of failure in production. Even if your primary and secondary systems were to fail, your data would be protected by two backups.
Secondary time travel multiplies the benefits of HANA 2.0 replication. Historically, it has been very difficult to correct mistakes in a relational database system. If you accidentally deleted data or cause the system to malfunction by improperly configuring an upgrade, you couldn’t just roll it back to an earlier version of your landscape, You’d have to correct the glitch manually, or restore the data from a backup. That could mean hours of unplanned downtime and/or substantial data loss.
With SAP HANA 2.0 SPS 03, we gained the ability to quickly time travel to an earlier version of our SAP landscape in the secondary system, and if necessary roll back changes or access deleted information. This reduces the consequences of a wide range of disaster scenarios, from improper system configuration, to data corruption, to security breaches.
Security and Compliance
SAP HANA 2.0 has introduced notable improvements to SAP security and compliance. A few of these include:
- Log volume encryption, securing changes made since the last savepoint.
- Better management of encryption keys
- Improved group authorization management, making it easier to reduce risk and ensure compliance
Service packs have built on these advancements, adding a range of other security-friendly features, such as password hashing and salting to store passwords more securely, better control of user administration and smarter encryption configuration.
One of the most exciting features in SPS 03, is native data masking. Companies often struggle to use personal data without violating compliance laws or putting customer and employee privacy at risk. Although there are third-party tools available to anonymize sensitive data, it can be difficult to find solutions that protect private data like Social Security numbers while giving stakeholders like analysts and customer service reps the data they need to do their jobs effectively.
SAP HANA 2.0 data masking solves this problem, by providing access that “masks” data by either obscuring it or replacing it with meaningless data (for example, ###-##-#### in place of a social security number.) This enables companies to reduce the risk of compromising sensitive data, while still getting the most value from their data.
SAP HANA 2.0 Upgrade Path
While HANA migration is a complex process, moving to SAP HANA 2.0 is quick and straightforward, once you’ve handled more basic upgrade tasks. You’ll need to be running a fairly current version of HANA (at least SPS 10), but those are upgrades that are already part of your path to S/4HANA. Once you’re there, you’re near the finish line —HANA 2.0 migration can be handled with command lines, and will not require an extended downtime.
While upgrading to SAP HANA 2.0 doesn’t have to represent a large commitment of time and resources, or changes to your current SAP upgrade strategy, there are considerations around compatibility. Certain new servers and system configurations require HANA 2.0 as does S/4HANA 1709 and later. Similarly, certain old systems and deprecated features are not supported with HANA 2.0.
However, for the vast majority of SAP users, HANA 2.0 shouldn’t significantly change your upgrade priorities. If you’re upgrading other components of your system, it makes sense to move to HANA 2.0, and vice versa.
Need more information about SAP HANA 2.0, or advice on planning and executing your HANA upgrade?
Contact us, to learn how Protera can help.