Understanding how to get the best out of Cloud computing in an SAP environment requires a change from the traditional CIO mindset
Over the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to talk with many different CIOs about the technical aspects of adopting cloud as one component of their SAP landscape. If you are reading this blog to gain some insights on how cloud fits into your SAP landscape, then I have some good news and some bad news.
First, the good news. As someone managing thousands of SAP systems on a variety of platforms, I can confidently tell you that the benefits of cloud are real. With SAP on the cloud, you’ll be able to get away from day-to-day worries about IT assets and focus more on strategic issues.
Rolling out an upgrade or new code? No problem, with cloud you can provision a 1TB HANA instance in just a few hours and automatically refresh with production data for testing.
Worried about Capex, and concerned with overbuying or underserving a dynamic business? With cloud, you move to an Opex model and consume only want you need, scale during peak periods, and required quickly as your demand changes.
Want to devote more of your time to supporting business functions, and less on day to day operations? With cloud, and an SAP-certified managed service provider, you can have secure, worry free, global access to a high performance, constantly tuned and continually updated technical platform, without having to manage any of it.
Need to support new users, or integrate a newly acquired business? SAP on cloud gives you the flexibility to get the new business unit online quickly, focusing on the integration of business process and organization, not technology.
And what about costs? I have worked with customers who have realized 30-50% savings of their total running costs moving their SAP to the cloud.
But as with any technology shift, moving your SAP to cloud requires you to consider some new situations that you’ll need to be prepared for – because the Cloud is not just another data center.
First is security. The hyperscale cloud providers are investing in security at a rate that dwarfs most organizations’ IT budgets. They are striking partnerships with major software vendors like SAP to certify their computing platforms for SAP. And they are working with major customers and institutions in every industry to ensure that their platforms are secure.
I’ve heard CIOs talk about cloud having a reputation for allowing costs to spiral out of control, for example as developers start purchasing their own computing resources without proper approvals.
I’ve heard worries about temporary resources purchased on an “as-needed” basis become part of the ongoing infrastructure, without ever having their cost structure optimized. One of your new challenges as CIO will be to develop and enact a new set of policies to manage costs in a Cloud environment.
Now when it comes to the SAP application itself, and all the accompanying integration and add-on apps, there is an additional layer of complexity. Moving SAP requires maximum care and minimum disruption, as it’s supporting the day to day business which will not stop for a technology upgrade. You’ll need to decide which of the adjoining applications should move to cloud, and which would be better suited to remain on their current platforms. Here, you’ll want to look for an SAP-certified partner who can also bring to bear automations that will reduce downtime, speed the migration, and eliminate risk.
You’ll want to think about managed services for your SAP. Common, but complex, tasks like shutting down systems, applying patches and provisioning sandboxes can now be routinely automated.
Finally, looming large on the minds of most CIOs I talk with is the question of SAP S/4HANA. For most of them, it’s a question of how and when to make the transition, not whether to do it.
In almost every customer discussion, after I’ve had a chance to understand the customer’s SAP landscape and list their objectives and constraints, I give the same advice.
Now, let’s discuss my advice for moving to SAP S/4HANA.