SAP migration to the cloud happens when companies move their SAP applications, data and technology to managed cloud services. As the migration is from one platform to a totally different platform, there are a number of things to be taken care of.
SAP migrations are mission critical, hence they should be done within the specified time with the minimum risk and maximum flexibility. This brings in great financial gains because there is a huge decrease in operating expenses and a reduction in the usage of infrastructure. However, it is very important to carefully plan the migration or else you will end up with more costs, rather than a good return on investment.
Choosing a reliable cloud provider is one of the most important aspects in a migration strategy. There are a number of platforms and methodologies available, so you need to choose a platform depending on the resources, budget and business needs. Cloud vendors using enterprise-grade hardware can provide better services, combined with flexibility, scalability, responsiveness and security.
When migrating your SAP applications to the cloud, deciding on the right time is crucial. For example, consider factors like new product release, new acquisitions, new integrations, big projects in the lineup and so on. As each business is different, you need to determine for yourself, the best time to make a migration.
Several businesses have moved from a cloud-first strategy to a cloud-only strategy. And yet, there are still some businesses that haven’t yet shifted. And some are in the process of moving. Based on this, you can define different types of SAP customers - Some try to innovate, some wait and watch, while others are still not convinced whether it would be a good move for their business strategy.
Considering the following points would be helpful in deciding the right moves during migration:
Analyze why you need to change
Growth happens at the fastest pace ever. So, before making that big change to the cloud, it would be advisable to analyze why you need to make the change. Is it for scalability, performance, accessibility, flexibility, more ROI and better cost control or all of these reasons rolled into one?
Move based on your current hardware lifecycle policy
What is the lifecycle policy of the hardware that you currently use? Once you move to the cloud, you can easily abandon the hardware that’s reached past its limit and some hardware investments can be repurposed if you don’t want to give them away. It’s your choice. However, if you were using hardware that’s been on the premises for 5 years, then it’s definitely time for its retirement.
Move based on business needs
Another important driver in a SAP to cloud migration is business needs. The cloud adoption would be based on priority areas. For example, you can chart a move for cloud-based apps needing integration to SAP.
Migrating SAP applications to the cloud can be an intimidating task. This is mainly because SAP migration projects consist of different levels of business-critical functions spanning complex landscapes. This is why the transition may not be as smooth as portrayed.
Here is an example you might relate to:
Take the scenario of an FMCG manufacturer that uses data mining to improve their business strategy and drive innovation. This company uses SAP in its pivotal roles through HR operations, finance and logistics. If the migration wasn’t thoughtfully done, and if the SAP environment was hosted randomly on a public cloud, will the infrastructure adapt to the demands of their data growth or infrastructure growth? This happens when you don’t think about the scalability factor in an ERP environment, and everything falls into a deadlock.
That’s not the only problem our fictitious company is going to face.
There could also be problems with the platform’s admin access. Delays in the release of the SAP support packs is quite often caused due to transparency and lack of proper support.
Suppose the company right sizes their SAP landscapes and supports a certain amount of data every year, they need to have a corresponding cloud-based environment. And most likely, a three-tier solution for their VMs, database and SAP environments. This makes it easier for them to take off from either of these environments, whenever glitches occur.
Ease the process while migrating or updating any SAP systems to the cloud by remembering the following aspects.
- Have a food-proof plan for migration and budget. SAP migrations are so crucial that you need to assess the entire SAP landscape and then decide what parts you want to move and what should be retained.
- There is no opportunity to “lift and shift”. Since several of the SAP systems run on a combination of legacy operating system and database combination that are not readily available with public cloud vendors, you cannot do a lift and shift process. So, you need to change the database and the operating system before you make the migration, and that could impact the running of the systems. You may have to do additional testing, which requires extra time and cost; that could affect your budgeting as well.
- Sometimes great skills in-house cannot help; you may have to rehire. You may have a strong team with highly experienced professionals in the enterprise IT department. But when the migration process is planned, you need IT specialists with highly qualitative experience in SAP system upgrades. They could navigate you through multi-layered, parallel workstreams, and troubleshoot as and when issues occur. They can also design the cloud landscape and create virtual machines that can run SAP systems seamlessly in the cloud.
- Remove all data anomalies through a cleansing program. It would be disastrous if you forget to “wash and rinse your system” before you attempt migration. Over the years, enterprises have layers of data that they don’t use anymore. This unused SAP data would be so massive, not to speak of the corrupted, inconsistent and unreadable data. You don’t have to migrate all this to the cloud and bog down the migration process.
The above-mentioned rules can also be considered as cloud migration prerequisites. However, this should also be complemented by (1) making an audit of the present SAP instances, (2) analysis of data growth, (3) monitoring the transaction growth with each user, (4) maximum resource utilization and peak utilization pattern for each season and each year. Once this process is completed, you can keep a certain amount of storage space as a buffer for computing purposes.
The buffer storage quantity can be analyzed after monitoring the history of resource utilization over a certain period of time. Following this process, you can go ahead with the migration. The steps are described below:
You need to check the compatibility of your SAP applications, databases and operating systems with that of the cloud vendors. Ask your vendor whether they can support your upgrades as well.
You can also analyze the technical, language standards and governance of the potential cloud vendor to your company’s internal standards, and see whether that matches as well. Check whether the components match, and if they have a good team of IT specialists with integration skills to analyze the risks. And the vendor should also have the expertise to remove issues and ensure data safety 24/7.
Cloud vendors give you the absolute freedom to choose your storage size. However, you don’t have to go too deep into this because you can always upgrade or downgrade as the requirement escalates or scales down. But this is a step in migration, and would give you an idea of how far you want your business to grow over a period of time, and when you need to purchase more storage from the vendor. So you apply the average utilization policy, and just get the exact size you need now, and then grow whenever necessary. After all, that’s what the cloud is meant for, right?
Cloud servers are located everywhere in the world, and you can choose from anywhere. However, WAN or Wide Area Network costs will be incurred, so it would be advisable to choose a location closer to home.
The law states that cloud service providers must be transparent about the location of their data center servers, but if you are not able to find this easily, you can ask them directly. After all, your applications have to be in a safe place, and close to where your users are. Choosing the servers and hosting the applications closer to the geographical location of your users would enable them to have a great experience with your product.
If you choose to go with AWS cloud services, you can leverage a second region in a different geographical location. Here’s a sample distributed architecture for SAP with AWS.
Image Credit: AWS
Another step to remember would be the type of service for your SAP item. There are three levels to choose from:
Entry-level set (ES) - The first level is more suitable for disengaged ventures. This option is for minimal SAP and database services mainly intended for standalone SAP blueprints, training systems, demos and so on. As it is entry-level, most customers test new systems, create SAP demos and conduct training programs. It is also meant for small isolated work items.
Development service - Development service or DS is all about SAP and database support for development and quality assurance, right from the start of development until it goes live. The cloud vendor does this to support customers through the process of implementation, entire transition and then onto full service.
Full service - Just as the name denotes, the vendor provides complete service right from the beginning till the end. There is full scope of SAP and database support. You can choose this kind of service from the cloud vendor when you need more support for more than one system landscape like in ES and DS. Full Service can be expanded to include language installations, SAP user administration, database refresh and so on.
Planning and budgeting is the next step in migration. The better your plan, the easier the cloud migration process would be. Though experts advise you to compare vendor costs, it cannot paint the entire picture because it is mostly like comparing apples and oranges. You must also consider the testing costs, and that would add up.
However, the cost of migration has always been a major consideration when moving to managed services. But several key IT players prefer predictability of costs rather than reduced costs. And that is the benefit of moving to cloud services. It is a matter of knowing how much you are spending, and the value it is generating for the business. With predictability of costs a preferred choice, it assures them that they are investing in the right places.
If your database or technology runs on an OS that isn’t on the cloud, then you will have to change those, and test them again. This could take up a lot of time, hence an important part in the migration process. On the other hand, if your SAP project is just beginning, you can have a local implementation on the cloud. This process would also take some time, so keep that in mind.
As the last step in the process, all the data that is corrupt, unused and conflicting documents can all be cleaned and purged. Remove all unwanted data so it won’t cause any bottlenecks during the migration process. One of the biggest mistakes in cloud migration would be the lack of consideration in how files and databases would behave when in the cloud storage, and how the data would be used. This should be avoided.
Takeaway: Remember the best practices in SAP to cloud migration
Migrating SAP applications to the cloud would definitely be financially rewarding, infrastructure-wise beneficial, with elevated levels of flexibility for desired functions, combined with low operating costs. However, you need to have a good plan in hand and application readiness is mandatory.
Interested in migrating your SAP platform to the cloud? Let us assist you!
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