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What is SAP Basis?

We get asked all the time: what is SAP Basis? People know, but they ask anyway. That’s because SAP Basis is a deceptively simple aspect of the SAP universe. As its very name suggests, it’s basic. It’s fundamental. It’s essential. In reality, SAP Basis is an absolutely critical element of success with SAP. And, while SAP Basis is simple in concept, there’s actually a lot to it.

So what is SAP Basis? At one level, Basis is about basic maintenance, staying on top of database administration and upkeep. Think of SAP® Basis as the glue holding your SAP landscape together. A Basis administrator’s job is to make sure that all of your SAP components and applications can communicate with one another—and make this happen without any performance degradation for end users.

Learn how to manage SAP like a boss with this free SAP Basis survival guide

SAP Basis Support Overview

SAP Basis deals with the technical layers of the SAP landscape and is tasked with keeping it all healthy, including SAP enterprise cloud, database and applications. Basis administrators install updates and monitor systems for errors. They’re constantly tweaking elements of your SAP landscape so they can be faster and more reliable. Solid SAP Basis support prevents costly outages. Indeed, without effective and regular Basis work, your SAP landscape can fail.

What follows is a comprehensive guide to Symmetry’s top SAP Basis insights that IT leaders need to know. These links allow you to jump to specific sections:

What is Basis Administration?

SAP Basis support administrators have the responsibility for keeping all your SAP environments stable and secure. They’re tasked with meeting your end users’ needs. This means checking system logs on a daily basis, differentiating between minor issues and serious problems. For example, SAP has locks that temporarily restrict access to business objects when they’re undergoing a change. The SAP Basis admin can manually release a lock that fails to release automatically. This failure to release, however, may reveal a problem with app configuration, sizing or scheduling. A good SAP Basis admin can find and fix the root cause of the issue before it leads to problems in performance that affect end users.

Ideal Skill Sets to Look for in Your SAP Basis Administrator

Having solid SAP Basis support is key for not only preventing costly outages but also enabling your business to continually improve. Your Basis administrators should not only be able to run SAP installation and upgrades but also have extensive experience working with various scenarios.

Ensure your company has the right Basis administrator by checking for these top four skills: real-world experience in resolving problems, end-user focused approach in implementing process improvements, ability to aid new SAP upgrades and installations, and diverse skills and experience with SAP NetWeaver, JAVA system administration, SAP Solution Manager 7.2 or higher, and ABAP programming. Each organization requires its own unique SAP Basis admin support, but all need Basis support that can identify your particular SAP landscape and maintenance needs. Extensive, hands-on experience will help differentiate issues that need to be escalated versus troubleshooted, saving your company huge costs.

SAP Basis Administrator Responsibilities

Going beyond the monitoring, analyzing and troubleshooting of SAP Basis, the Basis admin has numerous other duties. These include:

  • Architecting the Environment: SAP Basis admins identify the resources (such as personnel, hardware and/or software) needed for successful installations and upgrades, as well as to keep up with future use patterns.
  • Implementing Best Practices: Business and Basis tasks intersect in complex ways that can affect the way your organization runs. Basis staff streamline these tasks to promote efficiency and ease of use.
  • User administration: Users are given roles in SAP corresponding to job functions. An SAP Basis administrator fulfills user and role management requests, such as provisioning roles to new hires, rescinding permissions when workers leave, and spotting SOD conflicts between roles.
  • Managing SAP Transports: SAP transports (i.e. updates) need to be carefully tested before they’re migrated to production. Admins must review transport requests, configure and test transports, gather signatures and install transports in the correct order.
  • Scheduling Background Jobs: SAP background jobs are what they sound like — routine processes that run in the background. An SAP Basis administrator schedules and runs these jobs during times of low demand, so that they don’t overburden system resources.
  • SAP Tuning: The best SAP administrators spend more time on performance tuning than troubleshooting. By analyzing system performance, user demand and other factors, an SAP administrator can ensure consistent performance and avoid the need for heroics.
  • Disaster Recovery/High Availability: An SAP administrator is responsible for backing up and restoring the environment, and testing the backup systems. These SAP Basis administration tasks are often outsourced to a cloud disaster recovery partner, who can generally improve reliability and lower costs.

Requirements for SAP Basis

Each company’s SAP Basis requirements will be different. However, they share certain common elements. The requirements are always focused on keeping systems updated, secure and performing at their full potential. Requirements for SAP Basis cover both non-production and production environments. They deal with performance, new installations, patch application, parameter changes, upgrades and reorganizations. Requirements delve into availability in the SAP ecosystem, covering troubleshooting and monitoring systems on a regular basis.

What is the Role of SAP Basis in Upgrades?

Typically, Basis experts take the technical lead in SAP upgrades and migrations. When a business upgrades or migrates to new SAP hosting or cloud provider, business doesn’t stop. The team needs to migrate the business data, configure, and test the new installation, all while keeping the former, source system running. As you can imagine, the business continues generating new data during the migration, which in turn, needs to be migrated to as well.  In addition, the business may decide to change the database and/or O.S. platform to a newer technology like SAP S/4HANA, adding extreme complexity.  These landscapes are incredibly intricate and can take several months to complete for a large organization. Without a highly-qualified SAP Basis team, the project can run into costly delays, or fail entirely.

Do I Need a Dedicated SAP Basis Administration Team?

We recommend that you know your SAP Basis support staff. If you don’t work in IT, you’ve probably never met them, but you might want to. While they tend to have a pretty low-profile job, these are the people who are more or less responsible for keeping your entire business running smoothly. They keep the SAP landscape running behind the scenes.

  1. Your enterprise ecosystem is complex.
    Inexperienced SAP Basis administrators often run into issues they’ve never seen before. This isn’t a problem in and of itself — that’s how you learn, right? — but a developer who does SAP on the side is much more likely to make costly mistakes that impact system performance, security and stability than an SAP certified Basis administrator with extensive training and experience.
  2. An SAP Basis administrator needs to resolve issues quickly.
    When SAP starts to break, quick response time can mean the difference between a minor glitch and a major outage. A dedicated SAP Basis team is immersed in solving SAP issues 24/7/365, so they’ll be able to solve the problem quickly.
  3. A dedicated SAP Basis admin is more economical.
    Loading down your IT staff with SAP Basis administration tasks has high operational costs. It may be wise to consider outsourcing SAP Basis support to a trusted vendor. Why? Because, it’s not a 9-to-5 job. People need time off. They get sick. Yet, you need them to be available for your SAP system at all hours. An outsourced team, which is part of a deep “bench,” can provide the kind of consistency and reliability that you need.

It is About Much More Than Just Tech

Anyone can study the technical fundamentals of SAP Basis, but without business insight and soft skills, they can’t meet the needs of an evolving company. An experienced, well-trained SAP Basis administrator will take the time to communicate with executives, managers and end users. They do this so they can engineer the system to meet the company’s unique business needs, and is the Symmetry approach to Basis. We are an SAP Basis Support and Managed Services provider that trains its people to engage in communication and collaboration with all levels of our customer’s organization, from IT admins to the C-suite. That keeps everyone on the same page, so complex cloud and IT infrastructure projects stay on-schedule and free of costly setbacks.

SAP Basis vs. SAP HANA

SAP HANA is used to run SAP Business Suite as well as its replacement, the SAP S/4HANA suite. Administering SAP HANA requires a distinct skill set from SAP Basis administration. SAP HANA works properly when the SAP Basis administrator has done his or her job on the underlying systemic elements. The two administrative roles for SAP Basis vs. SAP HANA are separate, though they sometimes overlap. Each has his or her own role to play in supporting SAP for a business. An SAP Basis administrator makes sure that all SAP components and applications are able to communicate with one another. He or she supports the enterprise cloud, database and applications with the goal of keeping them all healthy. An SAP HANA admin, in contrast, is supposed to be exclusively focused all aspects of running SAP HANA. Responsibilities include administrative management and every stage of SAP HANA execution, e.g. licensing, migrations, implementations, hosting and continued maintenance.

Understand SAP HANA with SAP Basis Insight

We help many of our clients adopt SAP HANA and SAP S/4HANA. This has become a sub-specialty for Basis admins. If you’re running SAP HANA, there are certain things you need to know from an SAP Basis perspective. SAP HANA acts as a backend for SAP BW and SAP Business Suite. If you combine the duality of SAP HANA’s flexibility with SAP BW’s features, this may require a more extensive Basis skill set. SAP HANA acts as an RDBMS for SAP Business Suite. To make this work, in Basis terms, you have to know SAP NetWeaver platform and SAP HANA repository objects. The complexity of SAP HANA use cases, architecture and scaling requires an SAP Basis administration skill set that is unique and varied.

Enhance Your SAP Service with SolMan

SAP Solution Manager or SolMan can help improve not only your SAP Basis team’s efficiency but also productivity. Its tools help monitor system health, as well as manage the life cycle of your SAP implementation. SolMan enables you to perform all testing in one place to easily track results. This actually helps speed up the overall preparation and execution of system testing. It also acts as a template for your implementation projects so that you can reuse content in a variety of formats.

While SolMan in SAP Basis improves efficiencies across the board, it’s important to consider one main issue that companies face during set up: they simply don’t have enough Basis team members to set up and manage SolMan effectively. Therefore, making sure you have enough Basis support for proper set up will help you reduce costs and achieve positive ROI.

Finding a Technical Managed Services Partner

With SAP Technical Basis support providing the glue that holds your business together, it’s crucial that your IT department is not torn between providing SAP Technical Basis support and aiding your business’ strategic goals. A dedicated SAP Basis managed services partner like Symmetry can strengthen your IT department, leading to increased productivity, cost savings and even happiness on the job. Our Basis managed services help you avoid delays. We have a proven track record of keeping your IT department on task. When an emergency issue arises, we have the resources to dedicate time to mitigating its impact. We support your IT department so it can focus more on business-facing issues and less on dealing with minute-to-minute “firefighting.”

To learn more about our SAP Basis managed services, visit

Curtis Gaska - Solution Architect

Curtis Gaska - Solution Architect

Curtis Gaska is a solution architect on Symmetry's expert SA team, delivering complete SAP® technical solutions from upgrades to complex landscape implementations. Curtis pairs his sound SAP technical expertise with sales skills to knowledgably advise clients, and prospective clients of Symmetry’s services and product offerings throughout each stage of the sales cycle.

Curtis has a unique ability to deliver technical knowledge to create customs solutions per the client requirements, by not only taking the technical specifications into consideration but also the business drivers particular to that organization in turn creating an optimal SAP environment. This skilled approached includes scoping, planning, and execution of various projects including Migrations/Upgrades/Installs, Hosting and ongoing Managed Services. He also stays abreast of the latest technologies such as road mapping solutions for client’s to leverage SAP HANA® in their current environment to then be hosted in Symmetry’s state-of- the -art Datacenter.