Posted On: June 4, 2020

Moving SAP to the Managed Cloud? 7 Questions You Should Ask

A managed cloud services provider can minimize your risks when you migrate your mission-critical SAP applications to the cloud. Here’s what you should know to ensure a successful partnership.

More companies are moving their SAP environments to the cloud.

According to a study by Americas’ SAP Users’ Group (ASUG) and Syntax, 64% of SAP customers have increased their cloud spending in the past 12 months and plan to continue this trend in the next year.

In 2018, SAP customers preferred private cloud offerings. However, they’ve recently shifted towards the public cloud. The research shows an average organization runs three to four applications in the cloud. The majority of those applications are now in public clouds.

The public cloud offers a range of benefits—such as increased agility and the ability to deploy services quickly and cost-effectively. However, migrating your mission-critical SAP environment is a complex undertaking.

Since your SAP systems may impact every area of your business, you can’t afford to take risks with your migration. Working with a managed cloud provider who has experience with SAP and the public cloud can reduce your risks. A managed services partner can also improve your security. The research points out early adopters of the cloud have avoided many security issues because they engaged managed service providers.

Moving SAP to Managed Cloud: 7 Questions to Ask Yourself

If you’re considering a managed hosting partner for SAP, here are seven questions you need to ask:

1. What is my cloud strategy for SAP?

According to an ASUG study, your SAP cloud strategy directly impacts your results. SAP customers who didn’t have a cloud strategy reported lower cloud satisfaction than those with plans.

The first step in your strategy may involve assessing your current SAP environment and asking the following questions:

  • How are our SAP systems performing?
  • Can we improve their performance, reliability, or security if we move them to the managed cloud?
  • Which systems should we replace or retire?

Then, decide which SAP systems and workloads to move to the cloud. Determine their performance requirements and how they interface with your other systems. You can minimize your risks by migrating the SAP systems that have the least impact on your users. Once they are up-and-running and you’ve achieved your desired results, you can move your mission-critical SAP environment to the cloud.

2. Can my SAP workloads scale in the cloud?

One of the top benefits of running SAP in the public cloud is that it allows you to scale quickly.

But scalability comes with a cost. For example, you can scale your input-output (IO) for databases in the cloud, but this becomes exponentially more expensive as you grow. SAP S/4HANA workloads also have limitations with how they can scale. You’ll need to consider your provider’s constraints and downtimes when you increase your database size.

If you work with an external hosting provider, speak with them about how migrating to S/4HANA will affect your hosting infrastructure and any third-party systems that integrate with your SAP environment. How will these changes impact your ability to scale in the future?

3. Which SAP applications should I move to the cloud first?

Some SAP applications—such as SuccessFactors, Concur, and Ariba—are built for the cloud. If you want to run your human resources system in the cloud, you can quickly and easily move to SuccessFactors. But other applications, such as your enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, are more difficult to migrate. These applications are complex and touch your other business-critical applications. A change to your ERP system can reverberate across your entire company.

If you migrate your ERP system to the cloud, consider how the migration will impact your user experience. To maintain high performance levels, you may need to migrate critical, integrated applications to the cloud simultaneously.

Application rationalization can help you determine which applications to migrate. When you go through this process, you will identify any outdated and duplicate applications you can eliminate. Making the cuts before you move will help you manage your public cloud consumption and lower your monthly costs.

4. What are my service level agreements (SLAs)?

Not all providers offer consistent service levels and can ensure your SAP systems will perform well in the cloud. Review your requirements and compare them with what your provider offers.

SLAs typically cover two areas:

  • Infrastructure availability
  • Application availability

When a managed cloud provider states they have 99.99% reliability, they may just refer to the infrastructure. Traditional business applications, such as your ERP, typically don’t achieve these high reliability rates (unless you invest heavily in architecture). Moving your SAP systems to the cloud can improve your availability.

Talk to your provider about their SLAs. A full managed service provider will go beyond infrastructure and offer SLAs around application availability, including performance and incident response times.

Make sure you understand what the SLA covers.

  • Does it apply to infrastructure or an application?
  • What does your provider measure with the SLA?
  • How do they measure it?

Also, get clear on who is responsible for the SLA. With some SLAs, you must notify the provider within a specific period if you find a violation. The provider is not always accountable for reporting to you.

5. What is my high availability and disaster recovery strategy?

 How does your managed cloud provider measure availability? Some providers offer 99.9999 percent availability, meaning you’ll be down for no more than 10-15 minutes per month.

Before selecting a managed cloud provider, determine the maximum amount of time you can be down.

  • How much will an hour of downtime cost your business?
  • What about eight hours?
  • What are the impacts if you are down for a longer period?

Once you get clarity on these costs and impacts, you can determine your disaster recovery (DR) requirements. Look for a partner who:

  • Documents policies, procedures, and actions to protect you from cyberattacks, IT equipment failures, and other situations that put your operations at risk
  • Offers high availability (HA) services built explicitly for SAP systems
  • Provides real-time replication to protect your systems and users from downtime
  • Performs complete backups of all data, programs, and components

In addition to your SLAs, ensure you have availability guarantees for both your infrastructure and applications. Just a few hours of downtime for an SAP application can have a far-reaching impact on your business.

6. How does the public cloud’s total cost of ownership compare with the total cost of ownership (TCO) of an on-premises solution?

The cloud doesn’t always offer a lower TCO than on-premises systems. The real benefits of the cloud are gaining flexibility, agility, and scalability you may not have in your own data center.

However, a managed cloud partner can offer you economies of scale. The public cloud provides an on-demand infrastructure that allows you to experiment with how you deploy your SAP workloads. You can right-size your environment as you go until you find the most efficient and cost-effective option.

When you migrate your SAP environment to the public cloud, you can also achieve savings by:

  • Eliminating the costs of maintaining your own data centers and equipment
  • Avoiding long-term expenses and commitments
  • Paying only for what you consume

The public cloud’s OPEX payment model costs up to 75% less than on-premise data storage, according to Forrester. Meanwhile, SAP customers said the top benefit of moving to the public cloud was reducing their IT staff’s workload. Freeing your IT team to focus on high-value initiatives that drive business growth can also lead to cost benefits.

7. Is my SAP environment secure?

 The biggest misconception about SAP security is assuming your systems are secure out-of-the-box. SAP expects you to handle your security, including performing maintenance and updating your patches.

Before you sign a contract with a managed cloud provider, get clear on what security services they offer and what you need to handle yourself. Look for a provider who will do the following:

  • Ensure your SAP systems in the public cloud have at least the same security and compliance levels that they have on-premises
  • Put the right security tools and practices in place if you are performing a migration or significant upgrade
  • Encrypt your data
  • Protect you at both the infrastructure and application layer

The Power of a Managed Services Provider

Migrating your SAP environment to the public cloud can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t need to overwhelm your IT team. When you work with a managed services partner, you can minimize your risks, avoid downtime, and achieve results faster. A managed services partner can also handle day-to-day admin and maintenance—freeing your IT team to focus on strategic initiatives that drive business growth.

Next Steps

Learn more about the operational and business benefits of running SAP in Amazon Web Services, find how to migrate your mission-critical SAP applications to Amazon Web Services, and watch our on-demand webinar on how to manage and configure highly-available, mission-critical SAP applications on Amazon Web Services.

You can also contact us today to discover how we can help you achieve high availability, security, and performance when you run SAP in the cloud.