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Moving Beyond SAP on AWS: How to Unlock More Business Insights

Amazon Web Services (AWS) capabilities, paired with SAP data, can deliver next-level business impact across the enterprise.

Business as usual will never be the same. Being adaptive in the face of disruptions and innovating to move the business forward have become mission-critical competencies.

Traditional industry boundaries have blurred.

Market disruptors like electric vehicle innovators have forever changed the auto industry. The proliferation of digital commerce shakes up conventional retail channels. With the explosion of data such as video streams and internet of things (IoT) sensor data, companies are revisiting how SAP and non-SAP data can be melded together to make smarter decisions.

A new sense of urgency has emerged. Companies need to approach things differently. They need to take advantage of all data, including better leveraging SAP data and harnessing the full capabilities of AWS.

Moving from Digital Transformation to Data Transformation

Companies are overhauling their business processes, competencies, and activities to incorporate new technologies. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems such as SAP are evolving as part of this digital transformation.

ERPs began as systems of record. They were purpose-built systems of transactions to automate specific mission-critical business processes that are repeatable and predictable. Driving additional value from these systems of record required getting the data out to report.

Companies then started using their ERPs as systems of reporting. This represented phase two of ERP’s evolution. Building data warehouses began to take off to house data and fed the reporting function with predictable questions in mind.

Today’s business environment has ushered in the third phase of digital transformation for ERPs as systems of innovation. This means companies can ask new questions about their data beyond the confines of a traditional data warehouse. They can easily experiment, try new things, and innovate.

Capabilities at the Ready to Transform Data into Business Value

More than an SAP destination, AWS gives customers access to more than 200 services to store, analyze, and apply data more thoroughly. Companies can turn on access to a service and experiment with it through the AWS platform, paying only for the time used (CPU) and the disk space (pennies per GB). Then, they can apply what they’ve learned to business processes through SAP.

The most innovative SAP customers are already tapping into the broad capabilities of AWS to stay relevant and build a competitive advantage. AWS offers the most comprehensive array of HANA databases for different sizes of SAP customers. The HANA infrastructure and ability to automate HANA instances via Launch Wizards on AWS are unique. The variety of native AWS services to choose from means that any SAP customer can find the solution to fit their needs.

A broad range of data tools, from data storage to dashboarding to query tools, facilitates data access and use, including:

  • Amazon RDS. A managed service that makes it easy to set up, operate, and scale a relational database in the cloud
  • Amazon QuickSight. A business intelligence (BI) service that gives you the power to create and publish interactive dashboards that include machine learning (ML)-powered insights
  • Amazon Redshift. Amazon’s data warehousing service makes it simple and cost-effective to run high-performance queries for powerful reporting
  • Amazon Athena. An interactive query service that makes it easy to analyze data directly in Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) using standard SQL
  • Data Lake on AWS. An agile and flexible solution that stores and registers datasets of any size in their native form in the secure, durable, highly scalable Amazon S3

A full slate of analytical tools, from forecasting that incorporates deep-learning algorithms to solutions that aid anomaly detection, can then be applied to unlock the power of data across functional areas.

Fostering a Culture of Innovation

Enterprises take different approaches to move their ERP to the cloud. Innovators often take an all-in approach, moving SAP altogether to a cloud platform and building a data lake around it. They recognize that moving data into a data lake makes it easier to get to the data they need, regardless of which analytical tools and services they might want to use through AWS.

Others take a gradual approach, perhaps choosing the cloud for disaster recovery in the event of failure or to archive some of their ERP data. Or they may keep SAP on-premises but extract data to put into a data lake to get a taste of analytics.

Regardless, AWS provides the platform to unlock data in ERP systems. While the gradual approach still affords companies the ability to innovate, companies moving the entirety of their ERP to the cloud have the full power of AWS available for data transformation and business innovation.

Finding the time to innovate requires freeing up time otherwise spent on routine business processes. AWS and a valued AWS Advanced Consulting Partner like Syntax have proprietary services, tools, templates, and methodologies to expedite SAP customers’ move to the cloud.

AWS has launch wizards for SAP that help customers spin up ERP instances very quickly. AWS Backint Agent helps automate the backup of HANA databases, the underlying database that many SAP customers rely on, be it for their ERP systems or S/4HANA systems. Such tools help customers lower the amount of time they spend on managing their ERP system, spinning up ERP instances, backing up ERP—all of these repeatable, mundane processes—freeing up time and resources for innovation.

AWS Marketplace offers time-saving SAP-certified add-ons as well. For example, Linke AWS Connector for SAP helps accelerate experimentation, innovation, and integration scenarios between a customer’s SAP workloads and AWS environment.

Moving to the AWS cloud with an experienced AWS partner like Syntax frees up resources by optimizing workloads and taking on day-to-day management. A Partner with deep SAP expertise knows SAP from the infrastructure perspective and the application side and knows AWS analytics to bridge the gap.

Syntax uses a proprietary methodology to move the data out of SAP and into the AWS data lake using all native SAP and native AWS tools. With a deep knowledge of the file structures and the business logic behind SAP data sets, Syntax knows which files and tables to get and brings pre-built conversions to expedite the process, even so far as the end-use consumption of bringing the forecasts back into SAP to drive Materials Resource Planning, for example.

Freeing the ERP team from day-to-day operational management of the SAP system allows them to generate business value by leveraging data to improve and evolve the business.

Fostering a culture of data innovation also requires establishing data ownership within the organization. This represents a fundamental shift in data strategy that mirrors the digital transformation of ERPs: from systems of recording to reporting to now innovating with data.

The increasing cost of in-memory data storage— especially as companies move to SAP HANA and S/4HANA – will compel companies to deal with data storage and archiving issues if they haven’t already. And that will likely force a decision on data ownership and who is charged with driving business value from data.

To encourage a commensurate culture shift within a company, establishing core components within the business processes and leveraging data to save costs or drive competitive advantage will help to reinforce those data-driven insights that are part of the fabric of the business.

Moving Beyond SAP on AWS

Using the AWS platform and working with a trusted AWS partner like Syntax, SAP customers gain ready access to an abundance of data storage capabilities. SAP customers also get analytics with machine learning algorithms, data enrichment opportunities, and ways to leverage data that drive business advantage and innovation across the enterprise. To learn more about SAP, visit our SAP insights page, where you can access SAP whitepapers, webinars, data sheets, and much more.