Migrating SAP to Azure: A Practical Guide

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Migrating SAP to Azure: A Practical Guide

Microsoft Azure is one of the top cloud providers, and SAP is a popular software company. There are a variety of methods for migrating and hosting SAP systems on Azure. In this article, you’ll learn about migration options for migrating SAP to Azure, as well as key considerations to factor for before making the move.

Options for Migrating SAP to Azure

If you’re considering a migration of your SAP services to Azure it helps to first understand your options. In Azure, there are three main ways to deploy SAP:

  • SAP HANA on Large Instances—a service that enables you to run SAP HANA on bare-metal servers or dedicated VMs. These instances are deployed on single-tenant servers, creating an isolated environment for your database. When considering this method, be aware that if you use bare-metal servers, you still need VMs for your application and middleware layers.
  • SAP HANA on Azure VMs—uses SAP-certified VMs on shared servers. Unlike standard instances, the memory and CPU of these instances are reserved to guarantee performance. When using this method, keep in mind, storage and networking resources are shared with other tenants. Although your memory and CPU are guaranteed, you still need to provision resources to avoid bottlenecks.
  • SAP Cloud Platform (CP) on Azure—a fully managed service provided by SAP and hosted in Azure. This service enables you to use SAP without having to manage resources or configurations. When using this method, you must manage your deployment via the Cloud Foundry CLI or the SAP CP Cockpit.

All of these deployment options can be combined with other Azure services, including storage, analytics, monitoring, and security. 

Reasons to Migrate SAP Systems to Microsoft Azure

There are a variety of reasons an organization might choose to move SAP to Azure Cloud. Some of the most compelling include:

  • Backup and recovery—moving SAP to Azure enables you to take advantage of built-in backup and recovery systems. This can reduce costs and eliminates the need to integrate third-party solutions.
  • Easier updating—when SAP is deployed in the cloud, updates are automatic. This reduces the burden on IT for maintaining systems and increases security through timely patching.
  • Data sharing—on-premise SAP deployments offer limited support for remote teams and workloads. When you move SAP to the cloud, you gain easier distributed access and real-time data sharing.
  • Native integrations—since Microsoft has already moved its own SAP systems to Azure, many integration issues have already been resolved. Large scale integration support ensures easier migration for any size SAP deployment.

SAP on Azure Migration Tactics

Once you’ve decided to migrate your SAP workloads to Azure, there are several tactics you can choose from. The best one for you depends on the specific workloads you want to move.

Export and Import

Exporting data from your on-premise system and importing to Azure is the traditional method for migration. This method is popular because it can be customized to suit your needs. You get to choose exactly what data is moved and when. You can also move data from heterogeneous sources (i.e. different operating systems). Additionally, exported data requires less space than your source; typically around 20-40% of the uncompressed size.

Database Backup and Restore

If you are moving databases from homogenous sources (i.e. with the same operating systems) backup and restore is often the simplest method. This method enables you to take a point in time copy and restore it, as is, in the new environment. The downside of this method is that it can be difficult to sync data changes that occur between backup and restoration.

Database Backup and Restore With Log Shipping

A modification of the above method can be used to reduce downtime and issues caused by syncing requirements. In this modification, database log replication is used to connect the old and new environments. This way, when you are ready to transfer workloads, your databases are already in sync.

Data Transfer

Although not a method by itself, data transfer plays a large role in migration. Reliably migrating large amounts of data requires a dedicated, high throughput connection. For import/export migrations, you can use an FTP server for parallel transfers, reducing the time needed. For other methods, you are better off using AzCopy. AzCopy is a dedicated tool that enables you to copy multiple files at once, optimizing bandwidth use.

Factors to Consider When Migrating SAP Applications to Azure

Understanding which migration method is best suited to your needs is the first step in planning your migration. After that, there are several other aspects you should consider.

Key factors include:

  • Bandwidth amounts—ensure that you provision enough bandwidth to access your migrated systems. During migration, you likely used a high-speed, low-latency LAN connection but SAP in the cloud requires WAN which is often not as fast.
  • Plan for downtime—downtime can have serious consequences on your productivity and services. You need to plan your downtime carefully to minimize these impacts. This planning requires understanding how much downtime is needed for migration and when it will have the least effect.
  • Update your dependencies—to avoid outages and ensure the security of your systems, you should make sure all of your components are up to date before migration. Updating prior to migration reduces the chance that updates get missed and prevents unnecessary configuration of components that may change.
  • Verify compatibility—verify the compatibility of your VMs before migration. This should be simple since Azure is compatible with Windows and a few Linux machines. 
  • Monitor your applications—make sure to monitor your applications throughout the migration process and to verify performance post-migration. You can use the diagnostic API included in the Azure SDK to help with this monitoring and evaluation.


Hopefully, this article helped you better understand how you can migrate your SAP workloads to Azure. When migrating enterprise workloads, make sure that you get the full cooperation of all parties involved. That includes high-level personnel, temporary team members, and third-party integrators. A successful migration always ensures that all users are ready for the change. Otherwise, you might have to deal with unnecessary overhead.

Tao is a passionate software engineer who works in a leading big data analysis company in Silicon Valley. Previously Tao has worked in big IT companies such as IBM and Cisco. Tao has a MS degree in Computer Science from University of McGill and many years of experience as a teaching assistant for various computer science classes.

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