SAP Disaster Recovery: Techniques and Best Practices - Image by Enrique from PixabaySAP is a core application for many organizations, providing key functions ranging from enhanced productivity and inventory management to effective HR processes. Given how tightly it’s integrated into these business operations, businesses must build a water-tight business continuity plan around their SAP environment.

Continuity plans typically involve two elements:

  • High Availability (HA), which ensures that systems and applications remain operational in the face of disruption, and
  • Disaster Recovery (DR), which ensures critical systems and data can be quickly restored after a major incident.

However, whenever organizations start discussing business continuity for SAP, much of the dialogue invariably centers around HA. While this is understandable – HA performs an incredibly vital role – it means that DR can often be overlooked. This oversight is a major mistake.

What is Disaster Recovery?

There is a large amount of overlap between HA and DR. Both aim to ensure business continuity, but there are several key differences in how the two processes achieve this.

For example, HA is the ability of a system or application to remain operational and accessible even in the event of hardware or software failures, network disruptions, or other types of localized issues. Organizations achieve this through a combination of redundancy and failover mechanisms that ensure a backup system or component is always ready to take over if something goes offline. These allow organizations to meet the requirements of their service level agreements (SLAs) – uptime commitments they make to customers.

In contrast, DR is less about keeping your systems from going offline and more about quickly and reliably restoring them after a major disruption such as a natural disaster, a cyber-attack, or infrastructure-wide hardware failure. It uses backup and data recovery procedures to ensure critical systems and data can be quickly restored and returned to normal service.

Why is Disaster Recovery Vital?

A clear, well-planned DR strategy is crucial for critical SAP systems as it helps ensure the continuity of operation and minimizes downtime in the event of a disaster. These kinds of catastrophic failures, whether natural or human-made, can cause significant disruption to an organization’s SAP system, leading to data loss, system downtime and even loss of revenue.

While the exact scale of the impact will vary from business to business, Gartner estimates the average cost of unscheduled downtime at $300,000 per hour. That figure creates a very strong incentive to get systems up and running as quickly as possible.

A well-designed DR plan outlines the steps to be taken in the event of a disaster, including backup and recovery procedures, data restoration, and the restoration of essential systems. The plan should be regularly tested and updated to ensure it remains effective in the face of new threats and changes in the organization’s SAP environment.

Having a DR plan in place doesn’t just help businesses bounce back from disaster; it can also help them comply with several strict regulatory requirements. While it won’t apply to every organization, many industries have strict guidelines for data protection and recovery procedures.

Building a Recovery Plan: Sitewide vs Application-level Recovery

During the creation of a DR plan, organizations have to make many decisions. However, few are as important as choosing the scale on which the plan will operate.

When dealing with the SAP HANA environment, there are two broad approaches – a sitewide recovery or an application-level one.

Sitewide Recovery

A sitewide recovery plan is exactly what it sounds like. It’s an all-or-nothing approach. The entire site has to failover at the same time, even if only a single application or database goes offline. This presents several benefits, such as ensuring that all your applications and systems within the organization are protected and recoverable in the event of a disaster. It provides a holistic, comprehensive approach to disaster recovery, covering all the critical components of the infrastructure.

In addition to this, it also allows organizations to manage the recovery process from a centralized location. The approach simplifies the management and coordination of the recovery effort. A sitewide DR approach allows organizations to set consistent recovery time objectives and recovery point objectives for all applications, ensuring that the recovery process is aligned with the overall business objectives.

However, there are also some limitations to be aware of. Implementing and maintaining a sitewide disaster recovery approach can be complex, especially for a large organization with diverse applications and systems. It requires careful planning, coordination, and regular testing to ensure the effectiveness of the recovery strategy.

A sitewide DR approach also typically involves a significant initial investment in terms of infrastructure, hardware, software, and networking capabilities.

Application-Level Recovery

The alternative approach to a sitewide strategy is to think about DR at an application or database level.

This has several major advantages over sitewide recovery. Firstly, it allows organizations to prioritize critical applications and allocate resources accordingly. This ensures that the most essential applications are recovered with the highest priority, reducing potential downtime and minimizing the impact on business operations. It’s hard to overstate the benefit this provides when dealing with critical applications and databases such as the HANA database.

Application-level DR can also be more scalable, allowing organizations to tailor their recovery strategies based on specific application requirements. Being able to allocate resources based on the criticality of each application can optimize the overall recovery process, and focusing on application recovery can also simplify the recovery process by narrowing down the scope of the effort.

Taking this approach allows organizations to design specific recovery plans and procedures for each application, making testing those DR plans more manageable.

Making a Choice

While a sitewide DR strategy offers a comprehensive approach to protect all your applications and systems within an organization, it comes with increased complexity and some high initial investment. On the other hand, application-level DR provides more granular control and capability.

There’s no objective and universal right or wrong approach to DR, but there are several steps you can take to ensure you adopt the correct approach for your business.

  • Determine the SLAs you’ve set for your business. Use this to guide your priorities on DR and HA.
  • Ensure you don’t either under- or over-invest in DR and HA technology. There’s little point in spending heavily on providing 99.999% uptime if customers aren’t paying for it.
  • Consider your capital budget. Investing in sitewide DR has a large upfront cost.
  • Business continuity needs both DR and HA. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that simply investing in one technology will provide complete coverage.

While there are certainly benefits to both approaches, here at SIOS, we’ve become experts in the application disaster recovery approach. We’ve been protecting SAP HANA environments for a number of years now with our SIOS LifeKeeper clustering solution, which includes the capability to monitor, check and failover HANA databases, along with similar capabilities for a wide range of other applications and databases.


SIOS Technology Corp. high availability and disaster recovery solutions ensure availability and eliminate data loss for critical Windows and Linux applications operating across physical, virtual, cloud, and hybrid cloud environments. SIOS clustering software is essential for any IT infrastructure with applications requiring a high degree of resiliency, ensuring uptime without sacrificing performance or data – protecting businesses from local failures and regional outages, planned and unplanned. Founded in 1999, SIOS Technology Corp. ( is headquartered in San Mateo, California, with offices worldwide.


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