May 13, 2024

How to Integrate SAP Data With Snowflake

By Sam Hall
This article was co-written by Sam Hall & Justin Delisi.

In a joint interview, Fivetran CEO George Fraser and former Snowflake CEO Frank Slootman shared some key takeaways from their conversations with enterprise customers around ERP and financial data:

  • Data is essential for enterprises to achieve financial efficiency in our current market 

  • Centralization of ERP data creates more value for enterprises 

  • Low-latency enterprise data will help enterprises drive faster, more informed decisions

The solution that many enterprises choose to replicate is their SAP data to a managed data cloud like the Snowflake Data Cloud, where it can be combined with other enterprise data sources.

There are many challenges to overcome when doing this, and understanding them and choosing the right solutions is critical to the ultimate success and enablement of better decision-making using your ERP data. 

Challenges with Analytics on SAP

For enterprises using SAP, the analytics capabilities of the product have failed to keep pace with the modern data landscape due to:

  • Legacy data architectures that are constrained by storage space and compute limitations which introduce inefficiencies in how data can be processed. This creates complex and expensive environments, especially as some organizations combine many different SAP products and versions.

  • Even if organizations survive a migration to S/4 and HANA cloud, licensing and performance constraints make it difficult to perform advanced analytics on this data within the SAP environment.

  • Difficulty in moving non-SAP data into SAP for analytics which encourages data silos and shadow IT practices as business users search for ways to extract the data (which has data governance implications).

Leadership teams looking to put their data in an environment built for analytics, ML/AI, and governance need modern, cloud-native platforms built from the ground up for distributed, large-scale data processing and democratized analytics. Breaking free from the constraints of legacy SAP systems creates a strategic advantage for your organization.

Benefits of Moving SAP Data to Snowflake

Snowflake provides a simple, scalable data platform that can manage all of your data and mission-critical workloads (and not just from SAP) to drive better decisions for your business. Built for integration, scalability, governance, and industry-leading security, Snowflake optimizes how you can leverage your organization’s data, providing the following benefits:

Built to Be a Source of Truth

Snowflake is built to simplify data integration wherever it lives and whatever form it takes. In addition to the data coming from SAP systems, Snowflake can ingest data from traditional databases/data warehouses, data lakes, streaming event data, and third-party systems—centralizing your structured or semi-structured data from these sources to build your single source of truth. 

Simple Data and Infrastructure Management

Snowflake separates compute from storage, automatically scaling up or down instantly and independently based on your needs. All you have to do is specify the units of compute that will be used for each of your workloads. 

Additionally, Snowflake manages the storage, compression, partitioning, and encryption of your data automatically, maximizing the performance you see. No more building indexes or pruning mismanaged datasets. Also, stop copying your data from place to place with zero copy cloning, which minimizes data duplication wherever possible.

True Data Democratization with Scalable Governance

All your developers and business users can have access to the right data and compute resources with Snowflake’s unified security and governance model. Without requiring special licenses for each user in BW and Analytics Engineering functions as SAP does, Snowflake allows more users to be able to explore the data freely to gain insights.

Native AI and Machine Learning Capabilities

Snowflake is on the cutting edge of AI and machine learning capabilities with features like Snowpark, Container Services, Cortex, and their new Arctic LLM enterprise generative model. Most importantly, this creates options for your organization as you explore leveraging the data that has been centralized in Snowflake. 

Challenges With Moving SAP Data

Given all of the advantages detailed above, if it was easy to move your SAP data to Snowflake, we would not be here. Some of the more significant hurdles are:

  • Data model: Over 100,000 coded tables that are often customized make it difficult to understand the dependencies and mappings needed to replicate the model into a target system. Additionally, change data markers are not available for many of these tables. 

  • Licensing: Access to databases is restricted for those customers without an Enterprise license, and violations can result in penalties, additional fees, or even legal consequences.

  • Data access: Your data in SAP will often only be accessible behind an application layer in proprietary database technology, with very limited options for exporting it outside of SAP.

How to Integrate SAP Data into Snowflake

Solution Overview

To minimize integration effort, simplify the recreation of your SAP workloads, and provide flexible analytics capabilities, we recommend using Snowflake as your data platform alongside our best-in-class partners at phData:

Fivetran: Automates your data movement and data integration operations from any source to Snowflake.

Coalesce: Standardized and scalable visual data transformation and development on Snowflake.

Though we recommend certain products like Alation for data cataloging and Tableau for visualization, ultimately, these tools can be substituted for products a customer might already have deployed.

Solution Details

Fivetran’s solution can be leveraged to extract data from your SAP system, offering two options to fit your replication requirements as well as your SAP system limitations, licensing, and architecture:

  1. A managed SaaS connector that integrates with SAP via the NetWeaver application layer.

  2. A high-performance self-hosted solution that can directly access your backend databases for high-volume, low-latency use cases.

Once your data is replicated, Coalesce simplifies data transformation within Snowflake using a drag-and-drop UI that boosts developer productivity while providing standardization, as well as flexibility, in combining and curating your data – at which time consumers and end-users can integrate their chosen tooling directly with Snowflake.


Moving SAP data is not easy, but it’s worth pursuing, especially if a more data-driven future is on your priority list. While costs and resources are often the biggest barrier to moving SAP data, it will eventually pay for itself tenfold and you don’t have to go about this journey alone.

If your organization is interested in moving your SAP data to Snowflake, we highly recommend attending one of our free Snowflake Migration Assessment Workshops as a next step.

These workshops are a fantastic opportunity to get all your migration questions answered by an expert in a casual setting. You can expect straightforward answers, honest advice, and guidance.

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