SAP Architecture


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What is SAP Architecture?

SAP Architecture is the technical requirements of your system landscape and the applications that you need for that. SAP’s major step forward in architecture came when it introduced SAP R/3 — the three references a three-layer architecture — in the late 1990s. SAP ERP applications ever since, including SAP S/4HANA, still follow these basic architectural layers:

  1. The Presentation Layer is the component specialized in interacting with end-users, the user interface. SAP GUI is the traditional SAP interface, but newer SAP applications utilize SAP Fiori design principles.
  2. The Application Layer is the component that specializes in processing the SAP application — such as SAP S/4HANA. Development at the SAP application layer has been done traditionally with the ABAP coding language. The HTML5-based UI5 is growing in importance as a language for building applications that can run on a variety of devices.
  3. The Database Layer is the software component that specializes in the management, storage, and retrieval of data. The key difference in SAP S/4HANA vs. previous ERPs at this level is a simplified data model that is specifically designed to run on the SAP HANA in-memory database.

What is SAP Architecture?

SAP Architecture is the technical requirements of your system landscape and the applications that you need for that. SAP’s major step forward in architecture came when it introduced SAP R/3 — the three references a three-layer architecture — in the late 1990s. SAP ERP applications ever since, including SAP S/4HANA, still follow these basic architectural layers:

  1. The Presentation Layer is the component specialized in interacting with end-users, the user interface. SAP GUI is the traditional SAP interface, but newer SAP applications utilize SAP Fiori design principles.
  2. The Application Layer is the component that specializes in processing the SAP application — such as SAP S/4HANA. Development at the SAP application layer has been done traditionally with the ABAP coding language. The HTML5-based UI5 is growing in importance as a language for building applications that can run on a variety of devices.
  3. The Database Layer is the software component that specializes in the management, storage, and retrieval of data. The key difference in SAP S/4HANA vs. previous ERPs at this level is a simplified data model that is specifically designed to run on the SAP HANA in-memory database.

There’s a wide range of vendors that support at least part of the SAP Architecture. Red Hat and SUSE specialize in the Linux operating system, on which the SAP HANA database runs. SAP architecture needs a foundation, and a vendor such as Dell Technologies can provide on-premise hardware such as servers. Microsoft is one of the hyperscalers that can set up cloud environments for SAP applications. Companies like Deloitte offer consulting services to assist companies in building out their SAP Architecture.

Key Considerations for SAPinsiders:

  • ABAP coders are still important to SAP Architecture. If your company is looking to adopt SAP S/4HANA and other SAP applications with consumer-grade user experiences, then you will likely need UI5 and SAP Fiori skillsets.
  • Legacy SAP ERP systems typically have heavy customization at the application layer and potentially complex data models. Many customers that are adopting SAP S/4HANA are choosing to eschew customization and instead are adapting their processes to the technology to provide cleaner data and easier upgrades.
  • SAP HANA’s in-memory capabilities are meant to speed up data retrieval significantly. However, with the rise of low-cost and open-source data storage, many companies are storing their data in “hot” and “cold” locations. Hot, or frequently accessed, data may be stored in-memory, but cold, or sporadically accessed, data may be stored in a Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS) or cloud storage.

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