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Migrating SAP to the Cloud: A Planning Guide

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Why Migrate SAP to the Cloud?

SAP offers solutions for real-time data processing that covers almost every aspect of business management. SAP products include SAP HANA database, SAP Analytics Business Intelligence (BI) platform, and SAP Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software. 

Cloud migration is a complicated process that involves hardware and software changes. Migrating SAP systems to the cloud requires changing the physical location of a SAP environment. There are many good reasons for making these kinds of changes, including:

  • Hardware costs—IT hardware should be replaced every couple of years, which means additional expenses. SAP cloud migration involves moving your hardware to a remote server. As a result, the cloud provider is responsible for the hardware and you can save on server maintenance costs.
  • Backup and disaster recovery—data is the most valuable asset of any organization, and especially in SAP systems. Data loss can result in irreversible damage including loss of revenue, productivity, and reputation. Cloud disaster recovery enables companies to store and recover data from a remote cloud-based platform. 
  • Availability—high availability in the cloud provides uninterrupted IT services. High availability is usually accomplished with two or more similar instances running simultaneously in different locations. 
  • Flexibility and scalability—cloud computing enables businesses to upscale or downscale IT requirements at any time. For instance, you can increase your existing resources to adapt to changes. Scalability enables you to grow your business without expensive changes to your existing IT systems.

7 SAP Cloud Migration Steps

Companies should consider different factors when planning a migration to SAP. This includes system compatibility, allowed downtime, and data transfer techniques. The following list of migration steps can help organizations achieve smooth migration.

1. Check Compatibility

Different cloud computing platforms support different versions of SAP applications. You need to check in advance whether your SAP system database software and operating system are compatible with the intended cloud solution.

2. Choose your storage size

Different cloud platforms offer different storage volume sizes. You should determine the number of SAP Application Performance Standard (SAPS) required for each SAP system. SAPS is a unit of measurement that describes the system configuration performance in a SAP environment. 

The SAPS measurement originates from the Sales and Distribution (SD) benchmark, where 100 SAPS are equal to 2,000 fully processed business items per hour. The number of SAPS will give you an estimate of how much storage space you need for your system processes. 

3. Choose your cloud platform

There are numerous solid cloud platforms for SAP migration. Choose the one that is the most suitable for your specific project. The current top players in the cloud market are:

  • Amazon Web Services (AWS)—offers multiple tools for database and data migration. AWS services include storage, computing, analytics, database, analytics, networking and many more. SAP migration to AWS is usually done with the Server Migration Service (SMS). This service can quickly migrate a large amount of on-premises SAP workloads to the AWS cloud.
  • Microsoft Azure—provides Platform as a Service (PaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) solutions. Azure is suitable for multiple programming languages, development frameworks, and tools. Migrating SAP applications to Azure can reduce costs, and improve agility and reliability. There are two possible enterprise Azure migration strategies. The vertical strategy migrates an entire system starting with the lower-risk resources. The horizontal strategy migrates low-risk environments and doesn’t affect critical functions.
  • Google Cloud Platform (GCP)—GCP infrastructure is secure, cost-effective and always improving. Google is compliant with the ISO, PCI and HIPAA standards. GCP provides virtualized compute infrastructure with 6 and 12 TB instances for SAP HANA workloads. In addition, GCP adds big data, analytics, and machine learning capabilities to your SAP applications.
  • IBM Cloud—IBM cloud keeps SAP applications secure and compliant with more than 50 global data centers. You can select your locations, delivery models, data and tools to meet your specific workload needs. IBM Cloud can integrate cloud applications with on premisses systems, giving you the option to build on top of your existing SAP platforms.

4. Choose your availability zone

Cloud providers deploy their servers all over the world. Servers can be in Asia, Europe, or North America. Choose the closest and most relevant server location for your SAP system, to reduce your Wide Area Network (WAN) costs.

5. Planning your budget

Calculating cost is one of the most challenging areas of cloud migration. Organizations tend to underestimate the expenses involved in the process. A survey found that 58% of surveyed businesses discovered that running their workloads in the cloud exceeded their initial estimates. 

Consider the overall costs of your SAP migration, including workloads, tools, services, and network connectivity. Public cloud vendors offer cost calculators for better planning of your migration costs. These calculators walk you through the compute model and other relevant aspects of cloud migration.

6. Data cleansing

Data cleaning is the process of preparing data for migration by removing data that is irrelevant, incorrect, incomplete, or duplicated. This data is not necessary after migration because it can harm the process or provide inaccurate results. Data cleansing can also reduce costs since storing more data leads to additional expenses. 

SAP offers a couple of internal data cleaning tools like SAP Data Services. SAP Data Services is an Extract, Transform, Load (ETL) tool that provides different services for migrating data to on-premises and cloud databases or data warehouses.

7. Test your applications

Organizations have to ensure that their SAP applications are fully functional before migrating to the cloud. Applications that run perfectly fine on dedicated servers before migration will not always run the same way on a cloud-based solution. Migration can create breakdowns, instability, and performance degradation in legacy systems. Pre-migration testing can identify issues that you can resolve before an organization-wide migration.


Migrating SAP systems to the cloud can provide many operational and financial benefits. SAP migration can provide businesses with increased elasticity, reliability and scalability. However, a successful SAP migration requires strategic planning and testing. Hopefully, the tips covered in this article will make your migration process smooth and easy.

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