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Why “as-is” SAP cloud migration can be more complex than expected


“As-is.” “Lift-and-Shift.” These names may imply the possibility of a fast and easy cloud migration for your business’s SAP environment. But the process tends to be far more complex than a simple transfer from an on-premise system to the cloud.

3 commonly overlooked aspects of cloud migration for the SAP environment

As most CIOs know, existing SAP environments typically rely on private data centers with servers and configurations that may not be supported in the cloud. Even if the platform could be copied to the cloud—as is the case with Linux— there are many challenges, such as legacy technologies, outdated operating systems and unclean data, that need to be addressed before migration.

Simply porting over an existing SAP environment without addressing these underlying issues will not deliver the full benefits of the cloud, such as enabling business agility. Further, an "as-is" migration may lead to a more costly operation, since the transfer of unnecessary, old or unclean data will drive up the cost of cloud hosting, the pricing of which is based in part on data volume.

To capture the full value of a transformation program, the SAP environment needs to be reconsidered and redesigned to operate in the cloud. Here we discuss three considerations that organizations should take to adapt an ‘as-is’ migration plan into a more advanced ‘move and improve’ strategy.

1. Discovery and documentation are the foundation of transforming an on-premise system.

Many companies preparing for cloud migration focus on technical configuration. However, that is typically not the most challenging part of the transformation project. In fact, a considerable amount of work needs to be done before the business can even start thinking about the technical aspects of the project.

The information gathering, planning, mapping and strategizing that must happen before configuration is what we collectively call the discovery phase. During this period, the business considers every aspect of the transformation, which includes technical considerations as well as other business issues, such as documentation, security and compliance.

In the discovery phase, businesses will:

  • Define all technical aspects of configuration, including software versions, storage specifications, naming conventions, compatibility requirements and any other relevant information about each asset that has been implemented in the customer environment.
  • Document all existing assets and processes consistently and with the proper specificity needed to maintain and operate once deployed to the cloud.
  • Review compliance and experience considerations, such as networking and security rules. This will ensure that the business can maintain a safe and secure cloud environment and minimize disruptions or delays during later stages of the program.

Given the scope of the discovery phase, organizations may struggle to complete the process in a timely fashion, especially if documentation is incomplete or if some aspects of the configuration are missing. One way to address this challenge is to partner with a team of experts who can leverage SAP- and cloud-specific discovery tools to help gather, organize and analyze the needed information, even if some of the original documentation can’t be located. The discovery and assessment capabilities of Protera Arion® can help organizations reduce the costs and complexity of an SAP cloud migration by automating some aspects of the discovery process. For more information on ‘as-is’ cloud migration, please watch our video here.

2. A robust testing strategy will help ensure a successful rollout.

Another important aspect of the migration strategy is testing. Companies need a comprehensive testing strategy that targets each of the key layers—platform, network and application—according to predefined testing components, to consider and manage all known risks. For example, companies must test the platform itself, even if the platform change is minor. This is necessary to identify and address any inoperable and incompatible aspects within applications, such as specific binaries or RPM that may not be compatible from one version to the next.

The organization will also need to test the integration of various interfaces. Many businesses have implemented SaaS (Software as a Service) interfaces, as well as interfaces with banks, suppliers, customers and others. Organizations must test the integration of each piece of the architecture in the cloud before go-live. Some guidelines may be acceptable in on-premises data centers but are not compatible in the public cloud. To implement all known and cost-effective best practices while implementing the cloud projects, I recommended engaging with a partner. The right cloud partner will implement best practices for your compliance and governance requirements and prepare you for your next system and security audit.

Finally, organizations must also perform testing related to capacity and performance. It is important to note that all aspects of testing must be conducted in a simulated environment that mimics real-life scenarios. Comprehensive testing will ensure the SAP environment is fully functional in the cloud. There are many performance tests tools available to simulate a virtual load on your newly deployed cloud test environment for your SAP systems. For example, companies should consider running a regression test with all critical business processes, batch jobs and information processing through all connected applications with a manually simulated load in order to evaluate the runtimes and performance KPI against the current environments and best practices. This exercise will help companies ensure that their shift to cloud is safe, secure, and solid.

3. Cybersecurity must be revamped to address risks and threats within the cloud environment.

Finally, organizations facing a cloud migration should think beyond the technical aspects of the platform and consider what changes in security may be required.

One reason organizations choose to run SAP on the cloud is to improve networking and remote working capabilities for end users. The right migration approach will address not just capacity and bandwidth, but also what policies, procedures, or security technologies might need to be examined.

For example, organizations that have relied on on-premise data centers have implemented security measures, such as firewalls and other prevention tools at both the network and application level. These protections need to be considered and adapted to work in the cloud environment, with the same logic, rigor and rule set for the cloud to ensure that proper governance and compliance standards are met.

Another important component of the security strategy during a cloud migration is to consider how your users will be accessing SAP. End users working remotely or from home may be more prone to accessing using different devices, such as their home computers, personal tablets, or smartphones. Businesses must map the end-to-end user experience and determine how it must be reimagined for this new environment.

Cloud migration through the lens of S/4HANA

While migrating the existing SAP environment to the cloud may be the top priority for many CIOs this year, the shift to SAP S/4HANA is likely not far behind.

The fourth version of SAP Business Suite, S/4HANA allows organizations to process large volumes of operational and transactional data in real time. However, while SAP S/4HANA offers organizations many next-gen technology and benefits, it also requires a software platform change, a complete rethinking of the database concept and potentially rewriting millions of lines of custom code. Many organizations will need to simplify their business environment in order to convert to S/4HANA.

Like cloud migration, most CIOs are treating the migration to S/4HANA as a matter of when, not if. And while the two processes are distinct, it is possible to find synergies between them that will reduce the overall time and cost of both migrations. Protera Arion® is specifically designed to help organizations undergoing cloud transformation, simplify your S/4 HANA conversion journey, and reduce risks associated with it.

Stay tuned for our upcoming blogs, which will focus on S/4HANA migration on the public cloud and an in-depth look at cloud-based security considerations. For more information about how to design and deploy an effective and efficient cloud migration strategy for your SAP environment, please contact our team of experts using the form below.

Further reading on this topic: SAP Cloud Migration Strategy


If you’re looking for a trusted partner to help you plan and execute your cloud journey with confidence, talk to a Protera expert today.