SAP S/4HANA and related SAP workloads on Hyperscalers – Part1
As explained previously in this blog post, Hyperscalers are the leading Public Cloud providers in the market but in the context of SAP, the most commonly followed definition is that Hyperscalers are the “big four” SAP certified Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) platforms: Alibaba Cloud, Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure. Hyperscalers for SAP:
- offer subscription-based cloud service for Infrastructure
- are available as part of SAP’s multi-cloud strategy for SAP S/4HANA
- come as an option for hosting SAP S/4HANA on-premise solution
- are available in SAP S/4HANA cloud offerings
SAP S/4HANA at the forefront of Enterprise Cloud Strategy
Organizations are embracing the transformational nature of migrating to the cloud, recognizing the value it generates from increased agility, performance, innovation, cost savings, and resilience. In order to make that transition smooth and successful, they will need to do careful planning and preparation by developing a comprehensive cloud strategy that not only guides through the migration process, but also aligns with and actively supports the organization’s business strategy.
The digital core platform, SAP S/4HANA becomes the front and center when developing these strategies as more and more organizations are looking at running their core business processes in the cloud. The flexibility that SAP S/4HANA offers to consume the solution as a cloud (SAP S/4HANA Cloud) or in the cloud (SAP S/4HANA on-premise on IaaS/Hyperscalers) helps organizations make their cloud vision a reality regardless of the nature, size, and complexity – also enabling them to leverage the infrastructure services offered by Hyperscalers and some of the common motivations to do so are:
- wanting to move away from own data center and consolidating in the cloud infrastructure
- intending to benefit from the elasticity and scalability that Hyperscalers offer
- expectations of TCO savings through the economy of scale
- shifting the IT focus towards innovation from infrastructure management
The developed SAP Hyperscaler migration strategy should explains benefits and expected outcomes across all functional areas in the organization considering the following:
Today’s hybrid landscape
In today’s hybrid landscape, organizations run SAP solutions in on-premise, cloud, and hybrid deployments which is a combination of both on-premise and cloud. While the cloud provides access to functionality for easy consumption, customers often want to keep systems across the cloud and on premise, or across premise environments. This type of hybrid deployment model is supported by SAP and has helped organizations get the best of both worlds. Here we see a picture of how enterprises are consuming SAP applications and offerings using this hybrid landscape, consisting of private cloud, private hosted cloud, Infrastructure-as-a-Service cloud on Hyperscalers, Platform-as-a-service cloud, and Software-as-a-Service cloud, with everything connected seamlessly.
There are three options available to migrate SAP workloads from on-premise to a Hyperscaler environment. Representing them in an Effort vs Business Benefits matrix will help develop a migration framework shown below.
- Re-host – In other words, lifting SAP applications/landscapes as-is from on-prem and shifting to a public cloud environment. With this approach, the target is the exact copy of the top 3 layers in the technology stack – application, database and OS platform and there is little to no architectural changes. This enables rapid migration with minimal disruption but it prevents from harnessing any key business benefits of public cloud migration if the source is not already an SAP S/4HANA system
- Re-platform – it is the technical migration of SAP applications. It maintains the existing applications but upgrades the underlying OS and DB by migrating to SAP HANA and a supported OS platform in a Hyperscaler environment – Example: SAP ECC to SAP Business Suite on HANA. Although customers gain some benefits of SAP HANA’s real-time visibility and dramatically increased performance, like the previous option, it falls short of realizing the full benefits of a more transformative cloud migration approach and there is also an added cost for a future S/4HANA migration, which leads us to the next and also the recommended option –
- Transform – In this type of migration, the application layer is transformed as SAP S/4HANA along with the OS and DB following one of the 3 transition paths – new implementation, selective data transition and system conversion. With this option, customers not only gain the benefits of cloud native features but also from the new Digital Core platform, reinvented processes, real-time insights, simplification, SAP Fiori UX. It should be noted that the benefits of transformation often outweigh the effort and costs of adopting to a new system.
IaaS migration methodology and implementation plan
Hyperscaler IaaS migration consists of the following 3 main phases.
Strategy & planning: this is the initial pre-migration phase and the tasks associated with this phase include
- Cloud strategy and implementation planning
- Roadmap development
- Cloud reference and technical architecture development
- Cloud technology planning, sizing and implementation
- Cloud security, Identity and Access Management (IAM) design
- Migration strategy and planning
Adoption & migration: in this phase the previously developed plans are executed to build the target architecture and migrate the applications and data. At the end of this phase, the systems are fully operational on the Hyperscaler. The tasks associated with this phase are
- Cloud deployment and implementation
- Data migration to cloud
- Workload migration to cloud
- Non-functional testing
Optimization & operations: this is the run phase after the production migration. The tasks associated with this phase include
- Cloud change management
- Training and awareness
- Standard operating procedures
- Monitoring and alerting
Applications and environments rollout
When ready to begin implementing or moving SAP workloads to Hyperscaler, the migration roadmap defined in the initial phase of the project needs to be revisited. How to decide which infrastructure, applications to move first? where do they move? how do they move?
There’s no general answer to these questions, organizations want to evaluate the roadmap across a few different dimensions. The drivers that can affect the roadmap and overall migration plan are
- Equipment and facility leases, enterprise agreements, etc.
- Software and hardware lifecycles, equipment or software instability
- Application workload profiles (low/high risk, mission critical/non-critical, dev/test, etc.)
- Dependency with other on-premise, PaaS and SaaS applications, systems, and shared services
- New business requirements, technical limitations, etc.
- Dev/test workloads, and other “low-hanging fruit”
Having a system in place to see various SAP workloads and systems, organized by these dimensions is critical to prioritizing the migration. There is not a single “correct” way to migrate to the cloud and it’s not uncommon to reorganize the migration based on many factors and events that unfold in multiple iterations.
Typical services from SAP partners/service providers
From pure Infrastructure management in Hyperscaler to more value-added services offered by SAP MaxAttention, the typical services a customer would need in order to migrate and operate on a Hyperscaler platform are shown below. From the bottom of the stack, infrastructure like compute, storage, network offered as service is the responsibility of the Hyperscaler provider. The immediate next layer of infrastructure management services like OS administration, patching, backup/recovery operations are not readily available as services from Hyperscaler provider and are usually managed by the customer and/or a partner. At the next layer, the implementation of the SAP solution like SAP S/4HANA that includes activities like installation, upgrade, configuration that are performed by the customer or a partner like SAP. To get the most out of SAP S/4HANA, to consume innovations, and for additional value-added services like safeguarding at the top layer, SAP MaxAttention can be leveraged.
On a final note, SAP S/4HANA offers the flexibility for consumption as cloud (S/4HANA Cloud) or in the cloud (SAP S/4HANA on-premise on IaaS/Hyperscalers) and becomes the front and center in the pursuit of cloud transformation as more and more companies are focusing on a cloud-first and multi-cloud strategies.
In the next part, we will take a closer look at the technical considerations for implementing or migrating SAP S/4HANA and related SAP workloads to Hyperscalers.