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Understanding SAP Basis Administration

Shiv Sujir - July 18, 2022

What Is SAP Basis?

SAP Basis is the technology foundation that makes all SAP applications run smoothly. It consists of programs and tools that support SAP system operations and enable the portability of SAP applications between systems and databases. An SAP Basis administrator should ensure that the SAP application server and SAP business applications are installed and configured correctly, troubleshoot and resolve issues with SAP services, and address SAP security issues.

Main Tasks in SAP Basis Administration

The SAP Basis administrator (or team) is responsible for keeping the SAP environment online and up to date. These include:

  • Daily maintenance—administrators check logs, troubleshoot errors, and ensure that the system is functioning properly.
  • Job scheduling—the system must run various automatic background tasks that consume resources. Administrators should carefully schedule these tasks to off-periods to avoid performance impact.
  • Planning ahead—ideally, the SAP system administrator should make the necessary adjustments to the environment before they impact end users. This requires careful planning and long-term trend forecasting.
  • Projects—SAP Basis administrators play an important role in planning and executing system upgrades and migrations. They are also responsible for testing software updates to ensure they are compatible with your environment and are installed in the correct order.

SAP Basis Architecture

SAP Basis consists of a traditional three-tier model. It contains the following components:

Database Layer

The database tier is where all your company’s data is stored. It contains the data itself and a database management system (DBMS). Early SAP products used databases from different third-party providers such as Oracle and Microsoft SQL. This changed with the introduction of SAP’s in-memory database, SAP HANA.

SAP HANA is an innovative database that provides unique administration features, including automated monitoring and the ability to store system data as configuration tables, making it easy to query and visualize.

Related content: Read our guide to SAP HANA security.

Application Layer

The application layer is the central component of SAP Basis. This includes:

  • One or more application servers to run SAP applications. In practice, businesses often choose to use different application servers for each application.
  • A message server that acts as an intermediary between services and applications. The message server determines the application server users are logged in to, performs load balancing, and allows each application server to communicate with others.

The application layer provides a connection between the database layer and the presentation layer. The application layer also prepares the data to enable visualization via the presentation layer. When a user enters data in the presentation layer, the application server forwards it to the underlying database.

Presentation Layer

The presentation layer renders applications and data for user actions. Most SAP applications make use of a graphical user interface (GUI). The user views the required information and enters new data via input forms.

In the SAP ecosystem, the presentation layer is built on several modules grouped together under the common name SAP GUI. There are several versions:

  • SAP GUI for Windows
  • SAP GUI for Java
  • Web Dynpro (WDA) for ABAP
  • SAP GUI for HTML, also known as Web GUI

SAP Fiori is a newer, next-generation presentation layer offered by SAP, which focuses on offering a simplified, more user-friendly graphical interface.

SAP Basis and SAP ABAP

SAP Basis is SAP’s version for system administration, and SAP Advanced Business Application Programming (ABAP) is one of the two main programming languages (the other being Java) used to develop SAP applications. ABAP programs run on the SAP NetWeaver ABAP application server.

In many organizations, SAP Basis administrators and ABAP developers are the same people. Some Basis administrators know ABAP, and ABAP developers generally know Basis. However, there are distinct roles that focus on Basis administration or ABAP development.

SAP Basis Outsourced Services

SAP has a large vendor ecosystem providing services that can help your organization manage SAP systems. These include managed application providers, value-added resellers, and system integrators.

Managed Application Service (MAP) Providers

MAPs typically have strong expertise in a specific platform and provide full and continuous services on that platform. An SAP MAP provider can offer various technical services such as SAP software installation, upgrade, and maintenance.

Some MAPs run their own private clouds and support all public and hybrid cloud hosting options, while others only work with third-party public clouds. Vendor partnerships, technical expertise, and expertise can also vary significantly between managed application providers.

Another important factor is the partner’s internal system for managing the application. Some MAPs do not take full advantage of automation, which can slow down projects and increase resolution cost and time.

Value-Added Resellers (VAR)

SAP VARs sell packaged solutions that include both hardware and software, configure it for the customer, and provide ongoing support.

But in the cloud era, many VARs have had to change their approach. Fewer companies need hardware today, and many vendors offer pre-configured solutions for specific use cases.

MAP services also make deployment easier and more cost-effective, reducing the need for pre-configuration. As a result, many VARs have started offering managed services, making them more similar to system integrators.

System Integrators

System integrators specialize in SAP environment design and assembly. They are usually project-oriented and focus on implementing features rather than ongoing services. If a company is planning to upgrade SAP, the system integrator is usually the first point of contact and can partner with a technology expert to support the project.

Is Your SAP Basis Program Effective?

Insufficient Basis resources or support often result in visible performance issues, but they can also cause less obvious problems. When evaluating an SAP Basis program, organizations should consider the following:

  • Production environment health—frequently degraded performance and unexpected downtime may indicate an unhealthy production environment due to inadequate resources.
  • Regular patching—if SAP administrators take too long to apply patches, the system could be at greater risk of a breach. SAP can isolate and patch security vulnerabilities but requires sufficient Basis resources.
  • Dedicated Basis admins—many organizations have general development or security team members take up Basis admin duties part-time. These non-dedicated team members often lack the SAP admin experience of Basis specialists and are less effective at finding and patching issues. A part-time admin may also prioritize other responsibilities and deadlines. A dedicated Basis administration team should address issues quickly and regularly.
  • Productivity and IT retention issues—another reason to have a dedicated Basis staff is to avoid overloading IT teams with administration duties and impacting their productivity. SAP administration and security tasks are complicated and require effort.
  • Preparing for 2025—SAP ERP support will end in 2025, to be replaced with S/4HANA. Organizations should ensure they move to HANA before this deadline.
  • Comprehensive planning—many organizations treat SAP administration as purely technical, separating it from business administration. This siloed approach makes it harder to modernize IT and plan for growth. It is important to anticipate resource shortages and plan upgrades ahead of time to enable technological transformation.

SAP Basis Security with Pathlock

Managing security across multiple SAP instances can be a challenging, time-consuming, and manual process. Without proper security protection in place, companies expose themselves to threats that may lead to system outages, data loss, or financial fraud.

With Pathlock, organizations using SAP can automate many of their SAP security processes to provide 360-degree protection across the SAP system landscape. The Pathlock platform can provide proactive protection, including:

  • Vulnerability scanning: run periodic scheduled or ad hoc scans of 1,000’s of rules across SAP instances to identify any known misconfigurations, missing patches, or other risks to be addressed by the business
  • Threat detection and response: identify and respond to unusual behavior to remediate threats and reduce risk exposure in real-time
  • Code scanning: inspect custom code and transports for any potential performance issues or malicious code that could cause data loss or negative impacts on system performance
  • Compliance Reporting: continuously monitor and report on key controls related to application configuration, IT general controls, and other compliance mandates

Interested to find out how Pathlock can help to automate your SAP Security program while keeping your landscape secure and compliant? Request a demo of Pathlock today!

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