Posted On: March 24, 2020

How to Develop a Successful SAP Managed Cloud Strategy

The time and effort you invest in creating your cloud strategy will help you better manage cloud expectations, scope, and risks.

If you’re transferring your workloads to the public and/or private cloud, you might be under pressure to deliver a quick, cheap, and high-quality migration.

However, it’s impossible to hit all three of these targets.

If you speed through your cloud migration, you run the risk of moving your data to unreliable cloud systems. Then, you will spend more time and money troubleshooting problems. Meanwhile, cheap migrations often lead to downtime.

If you need to keep users up and running, you must invest in state of-the-art hardware or third-party software to ensure a fast migration. And, high-quality migrations are time consuming, as they require extensive testing and troubleshooting.

A successful cloud migration requires flexibility in at least one of these three areas. When you develop a cloud migration strategy, you can achieve many benefits – such as greater agility and the ability to launch services faster.

10 Steps to Build a Winning Strategy

Here are 10 steps that will ensure your cloud migration is a success:

  1. Get clear on where you are now

Start by assessing your environment.

    • How are your current systems performing?
    • Can you improve their performance, reliability, or security if you move them to the cloud?
    • Which systems should you replace or retire?

Look at your existing environment from a business perspective and determine which pieces you want to carry forward. You may find value in your legacy environments but retiring these systems can allow you to leverage new business models and drive more value for your enterprise.

  1. Decide what to move to the cloud

Test the waters before you move your mission-critical applications to the cloud. Start by migrating the systems that have the least impact on your users.

This allows you, and your managed services provider, to create best practices that will minimize downtime during migration. Once you achieve results, you can move your mission-critical SAP environment to the cloud.

  1. Prepare your systems for migration

Many enterprises have had their legacy environment in place for 10 to 20 years. During this time, their systems have built up large volumes of mission-critical data.

When moving to the cloud, you must minimize downtime to these systems so that service level agreements (SLAs) are met and your business remains in operation.

Before you begin a cloud migration, work with your managed services provider to understand how your data volume will impact your downtime.

Your provider can minimize downtime by ensuring that your data is in good health before its migration to the cloud.

Allow your provider enough time to clean your data and get rid of anything you no longer need. If you wait until the eleventh hour to address this, you will likely need to delay your project or scramble to cleanse your data.

  1. Understand your systems

Before you migrate your data to the cloud, understand how all your systems interface with each other. For example, your SAP environment may integrate with third-party applications across your enterprise.

Many IT teams don’t keep a reliable record of how everything is connected, which can cause a number of problems down the road. Those without reliable records are most susceptible to failure during a cloud migration.

You can avoid this by working with a partner to create a catalog of your interfaces before you move systems to the cloud. If you wait until your migration to document these connections, you may face project delays.

  1. Leave time to set up your network

Setting up network connections might take up to eight weeks. Be sure to order your links well in advance and prepare your connections before the cutover date.

A strong network connection and ample bandwidth will minimize downtime during your cloud migration.

  1. Test everything

Many IT teams treat a cloud migration like a purely technical project. However, you must also involve your end users in your migration.

That way, you won’t discover that they can’t perform tasks that are essential to their jobs after the migration is complete. Be sure to test your applications to ensure that they perform the way users expect them to perform.

Testing is also critical if you run a highly customized environment. The more you have, the more complex your migration.

If your internal team doesn’t have the time or resources for extensive testing, your managed cloud provider for SAP can take care of this for you. They can also give you proof of concept before the migration.

  1. Minimize your downtime

Some stakeholders in your enterprise may expect zero downtime when you move your on-premises environment to the cloud. Alternatively, they may instruct you to complete the migration within an unrealistic timeframe.

Before a migration, tell your cloud provider about your expectations and agree upon a reasonable time frame. You may also need to educate stakeholders about what’s realistic.

If you can’t tolerate downtime, you can bring in third-party tools to minimize it.

For example, SAP has native tools that can reduce your downtime in certain conditions.

However, any hardware or software that minimizes your downtime will most likely be expensive.

Ask if the cost of the tool is worth the uptime that you will gain during the migration. If you could lose millions for every hour that you are down, the cost of a third-party tool that provides you with near-zero downtime might be worth it.

Your cloud partner for SAP can evaluate your landscape and requirements to help you find the optimal solution. If you don’t want to bring in third-party tools, plan your migration thoroughly and allow for as much downtime as the business can tolerate.

  1. Transfer your data

You might be able to push small volumes of data over your network if you have a fast connection. However, this isn’t possible with massive quantities of data.

You will need to transfer your data to a physical device and then ship it from your source data center to your public cloud provider.

Hyperscale public cloud providers, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), might not offer SLAs for receiving a physical device, connecting it to the network, and making it available for the data upload.

Private cloud providers are often more flexible about receiving your device and getting it online quickly.

  1. Have a back out or back up plan

What will you do if your migration fails? For example, your transfer media may break, or something unexpected could happen at your target data center.

How will your managed cloud provider address unexpected downtime and restore service to your end users – without them noticing that something went wrong?

Dedicate as much time to creating a back-out or back-up plan as you do to planning a migration.

Don’t leave any loose ends that prevent you from rolling back if things don’t go as planned.

  1. Stick to one project at a time

Some enterprises may use a cloud migration to address several IT projects. For example, they may try to combine an SAP version upgrade with a migration.

They often think that completing multiple projects at once will minimize their downtime or allow them to save money.

But from a technical perspective, it’s better to complete one major change at a time. This makes it easier for you to roll back if you have a failure. You can also resolve issues faster if you manage one project at a time.

The #1 Cloud Migration Mistake

Successful cloud migrations don’t “lift and shift” servers from one location to another. However, many enterprises try to run their existing environment in the cloud the same way they run it on premises.

Doing this can increase your costs and complexity, as most legacy systems aren’t designed or suited for a cloud environment.

If you have outdated and slow hardware, or run old versions of software, you may not have a direct path for migration.

You can reduce your cloud complexity by preparing your systems and ensuring that they are in optimal condition before you move them to the cloud.

You can also minimize your complexity by asking your cloud provider for proof of concept early in the migration.

The time and effort you invest in this step will help you manage your expectations, scope, and risks.

You can learn more about how to create a successful SAP managed cloud strategy in our ultimate guide to managed cloud.