what is an sap environment

What Is An SAP Environment?

Last Updated on August 27, 2023 by Annie Baldwin

An SAP environment refers to the underlying infrastructure and software components that support SAP systems and processes.

At its core, an SAP environment provides the foundation for running SAP systems that support business operations.

This article explains what an SAP environment is, its key components, and why it matters.

What Is an SAP Environment?

What Is An SAP Environment?

An SAP environment refers to the underlying infrastructure, systems, and software that supports SAP landscapes and business processes.

It provides the foundation for running SAP applications.

Key Points

  • SAP environments consist of hardware, OS, databases, SAP systems, integration, and administration tools.
  • A robust SAP environment delivers availability, performance, scalability, security, and integration.
  • Choosing the right environment model is key for optimizing the SAP landscape.

SAP Landscape

The SAP landscape refers to the technical architecture and topology of the SAP systems.

It includes the configuration and integration of different SAP systems like ERP, CRM, SRM, BI, and more.

The landscape defines how the systems connect and communicate.

Hardware Infrastructure

The servers, storage, networks, and other hardware provide the physical foundation for installing and running the SAP software.

Sizing hardware correctly is crucial for supporting SAP performance and scalability.

Operating Systems

The OS like Windows or Linux installed on the servers underpin the SAP software.

The OS handles resource management and supports system operations.


Databases like Oracle, SQL Server, and SAP HANA manage and store application data for SAP systems.

They provide data management capabilities that enable transactions, reporting, and more.

SAP Applications

The various SAP modules and functionalities enable business processes for areas like ERP, finance, HR, procurement, and more.

The SAP applications run on top of the other infrastructure.

Integration Middleware

Integration middleware like SAP PI/PO facilitates communication between SAP and non-SAP systems across the landscape.

This enables end-to-end business processes.

Administration & Monitoring Tools

Tools for administering, monitoring, and managing the SAP landscape.

This includes SAP Solution Manager, SAP Landscape Management, and more.

Together, these key components create a platform for SAP that facilitates business processes and workflows.

The environment ties together the technical and application layers into an integrated SAP landscape.

Why Does the SAP Environment Matter?

The SAP environment is like the foundation of a house – without a robust foundation, the structure would fail.

The SAP environment must provide high availability, reliability, performance, and security to support business operations.

Here’s why it’s so important:

  • Availability – Environment components like redundant hardware and disaster recovery mechanisms prevent downtime and enable 24/7 SAP access.
  • Performance – Infrastructure sizing, configuration, and monitoring ensure optimal SAP application performance.
  • Scalability – The ability to add resources to the environment allows supporting more users and growth.
  • Security – Secure infrastructure and access controls prevent unauthorized access and cyber threats.
  • Integration – Middleware enables seamless SAP integration with other business applications.
  • Support – Tools like SAP Solution Manager facilitate managing, monitoring, and troubleshooting the landscape.
  • Cost – Environment maintenance and troubleshooting minimize the cost of an SAP outage or service degradation.

Given the criticality of SAP applications to business processes, the SAP environment is equally important to deliver capabilities that mitigate risk and maximize value.

SAP Environment Models

There are a few common models that organizations deploy to architect the SAP landscape:

  • Two-Tier – A two-tier SAP environment consists of an application tier with the SAP applications and a database tier. The database sits on a dedicated infrastructure separate from the SAP applications. This provides performance benefits.
  • Three-Tier – In three-tier, the presentation or user interface layer is separate from the application and database tiers. This supports better scalability and flexibility. The front end doesn’t depend on backend resources.
  • Distributed – A distributed model places different capabilities like applications, databases, and failover on separate servers. This increases redundancy and isolates failure domains. Resources can scale independently.
  • Centralized – A centralized deployment consolidates capabilities onto fewer, larger servers like high-end SAP HANA boxes. This decreases complexity but creates a single point of failure risk.
  • Hybrid – A hybrid combines models to get optimal architecture. Critical capabilities may be redundant while others centralized to simplify the landscape.

Most real-world deployments are a hybrid, taking advantage of different models for specific SAP environment needs.

Key SAP Landscape Terminology

Here are some common terms related to SAP landscapes and infrastructure:

  • Production – The live SAP environment used for daily business operations.
  • Dev – The development environment for building and testing changes.
  • QA – Quality assurance environment for testing before transporting to production.
  • Sandbox – An environment for free testing and training, isolated from production.
  • DR – Disaster recovery, a replica of production for failover when production is down.
  • Failover – The ability to switch business processes to a standby environment.
  • Clustering – Grouping servers together so if one fails another takes over its workload.
  • Virtualization – Creating virtual machines to simulate hardware, used to consolidate servers.
  • Cloud – Hosting SAP environments in cloud infrastructure like AWS, Azure, or GCP.
  • On-premise – Traditional model with SAP landscape hosted in a company’s data centers.
  • Hybrid – Mixing cloud and on-premise hosting for SAP environments.

Key Considerations for SAP Environments


Some top factors to consider when architecting SAP landscapes include:

  • Right-size infrastructure to adequately support workload while minimizing waste. Track utilization and make data-driven sizing decisions.
  • Build in redundancy of critical components like high availability (HA) for databases. This enables uptime and failover.
  • Secure all layers from edge to core – apps, OS, network, hardware, people, and processes. Perform penetration testing.
  • Test disaster recovery processes frequently. Validate the ability to fail over during an outage.
  • Monitor technical infrastructure – not just applications. Watch for performance bottlenecks.
  • Keep systems patched and updated with security fixes, new capabilities, and stability improvements.
  • Document the architecture using diagrams and configuration inventories for clarity. Keep updated as the landscape evolves.
  • Have experienced resources to operate the landscape from basis administrators to network engineers.

What Is Sandbox SAP Environment?

A sandbox SAP environment refers to an isolated SAP landscape used for testing and training purposes.

Sandbox environments are completely separated from production SAP.

Sandboxes allow users to simulate changes, test configurations, develop custom programs, and train – without impacting operational systems.

Sandboxes help mitigate risk.

Key capabilities of sandbox SAP environments include:

  • Isolation from production – Changes in the sandbox don’t affect live systems.
  • Access for testing – Users can test modifications before transporting to production.
  • Training platform – Sandboxes provide a safe space for training on SAP without business impact.
  • Simulating future states – Model possible future scenarios like upgrades in the sandbox.
  • Test data – Sandboxes contain test data, not real transactions, protecting privacy.
  • Quick refresh – Sandboxes can be refreshed back to baseline on demand.

Sandbox environments require careful access control and change management to prevent unauthorized changes.

Refreshing sandboxes periodically maintain their utility as an isolated test bed.

What Is SAP Landscape Management?

SAP landscape management refers to the processes, tools, and capabilities used to operate, monitor, manage, and optimize SAP environments.

It helps ensure SAP landscapes align with business needs.

Landscape management tasks include:

  • Monitoring technical health of SAP infrastructure and applications.
  • Managing SAP licenses, upgrades, and maintenance.
  • Planning and executing landscape changes.
  • Managing infrastructure like server and storage capacity.
  • Ensuring the security of the SAP landscape.
  • Optimizing performance by identifying bottlenecks.
  • Automating repetitive operations tasks.
  • Managing documentation and configuration of the landscape.
  • Coordinating teams and workflows across the SAP ecosystem.

Effective landscape management is vital to running SAP efficiently, maximizing value, and minimizing the total cost of ownership.

It requires both SAP Basis and IT infrastructure expertise.

Landscape management enables organizations to keep SAP environments aligned with business objectives and responsive to the organization’s evolving SAP needs.

What Is SAP Solution Manager?

SAP Solution Manager is a tool provided by SAP to manage the implementation, operation, monitoring, and improvement of SAP landscapes.

Key capabilities delivered by the SAP Solution Manager include:

  • Centralized monitoring of SAP performance and availability.
  • System administration and configuration management.
  • Change control and landscape management processes.
  • Testing tools and test management.
  • Incident management for issues and outages.
  • Reporting on system status and landscape health.
  • Integration with other IT management frameworks.

By providing these management capabilities for the SAP environment, the SAP Solution Manager enhances stability, performance, and security.

It also lowers TCO by automating tasks and enabling rapid issue resolution.

For most midsize and large SAP customers, implementing SAP Solution Manager is recommended as a best practice for managing the end-to-end SAP landscape.

Key Takeaways

  • An SAP environment refers to the hardware, OS, databases, SAP systems, and tools that enable SAP business processes.
  • Components like hardware infrastructure, operating systems, databases, and integration middleware provide the foundation.
  • The environment supports critical capabilities like availability, performance, scalability, and security.
  • Factors like uptime, redundancy, sizing, and security must be addressed when architecting the SAP landscape.
  • The environment serves as the platform that underpins SAP and business operations. As such, it needs to be robust and resilient.

Understanding the components and capabilities of SAP environments is essential for any organization relying on SAP.

A well-architected environment provides a strong foundation to get the most from SAP and mitigate risks.

With the right knowledge, companies can optimize their SAP landscapes to best support business objectives.


What are the most common SAP landscape models?

The most common SAP environment models are two-tier, three-tier, distributed, centralized, and hybrid models. Most organizations use a hybrid approach.

What is high availability in an SAP landscape?

High availability involves implementing redundancy of critical SAP components so that if one element fails, there is a backup ready to take over immediately. This minimizes downtime.

What does a disaster recovery environment contain?

A disaster recovery (DR) environment is a replica of production that can be activated in case of a disruption to the production SAP systems. It facilitates failover when needed.

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