How do the cloud and on-premises SAP HANA deployment options differ?

You can offload most -- but not all -- management, handle it in-house or try something in between. Here's a rundown of the HANA deployment choices, ranked by administration effort.

SAP HANA deployment options -- from purely on-premises through cloud deployments -- can be a bit difficult to...


The real gain from moving to a cloud platform comes from tasks the organization no longer needs to perform, so it can be best to look at the deployment continuum from this perspective.

SAP HANA deployment options range from those in which you have to manage everything from the metal on up, to those with push-button upgrades. No solution yet exists that makes the system a fully managed platform as a service (PaaS), where upgrades are transparent and the system always remains on the latest version.

Let's enumerate the SAP HANA deployment options from most administration effort to least.

On-premises Tailored Data Center Integration is for companies that want to install and run HANA on their own hardware and networking infrastructure, rather than installing a prebuilt HANA appliance in their data center.

Appliance is the most common of the on-premises SAP HANA deployment options. You can buy a prebuilt appliance from an SAP partner with HANA installed on it. The hardware is standard and certified to perform at the level required.

Virtualized refers to the virtualization options for development, test and, in some cases, production use with HANA, which allows you to abstract hardware management.

Which virtualization systems are supported for which use cases can be complex, but details are available from SAP.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) refers to platforms such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure. You only manage the HANA software in these scenarios, while the hardware is managed via the IaaS system.

You can bring your own license or use SAP HANA One, an AWS-hosted offering that has the license baked into the cost. HANA One doesn't appear to have been well maintained lately, as the product page links only to installation options from AliCloud (the cloud service from e-commerce vendor Alibaba), and the version on AWS is relatively old, but it should be upgradable.

Managed hosting means the infrastructure and infrastructure management work are outsourced to a service provider.

Usually, this doesn't mean that the service provider really does all of the infrastructure work, so it is usually a good idea to keep expertise in your organization. But much of the day-to-day management of the system can be handled by the provider. SAP provides this type of service for HANA via its HANA Enterprise Cloud and SAP HANA Cloud Platform.

You can also use services from Virtustream, a well-known third-party provider.

There are no fully managed cloud choices among the SAP HANA deployment options, where the system is always on the latest version. This lack of full management is par for the course in the world of cloud databases, so this is not a knock on SAP's offerings, but the customer has to be vigilant about scheduling upgrades and the accompanying maintenance.

This spectrum of SAP HANA deployment options applies not only to HANA, but to many systems in and out of the SAP world, including the S/4HANA ERP platform.

In the case of S/4HANA, the system is comprised of a more complex landscape, including a database and application server, but similar options ranging from hardware, to virtualized, to IaaS and managed hosting apply.

The choice of which option fits your business depends on the features available at each level, as well as the cost to your business of maintaining the expertise to support the deployment option you have chosen.

Next Steps

Read a handbook on HANA cloud options

Learn why HANA Cloud Platform is SAP's main PaaS offering

Plan a HANA big data strategy

Dig Deeper on SAP HANA