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As SAP continues to undergo an ecosystem transformation, organizations must now consider cloud options for their SAP infrastructure, including hybrid cloud environments and a complete transformation of all their SAP services to public cloud providers.

Cloud services are now a core part of SAP’s landscape migration scenarios. Service providers of all sizes are gaining key industry specializations to assist organizations with transformation advisories, workshops, tooling, implementation, go-live support, and infrastructure and application management services.

The three most important questions every customer asks are:

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  1. Why should I move to cloud?
  2. Which public cloud is best for SAP?
  3. What are the important factors/pillars of SAP on cloud services?

This blog will help you to find answers to these questions.

In today’s technology world, where efficiency and time are the essence of every business, one needs to be in alignment with the latest technology. I have been part of many discussions and arguments about the benefits of moving SAP workloads from on premise to cloud. While everyone starts with cost factor, it is not a primary aspect, which excites customers to decide on their cloud strategy.

Cloud computing increases efficiency, helps improve cash flow and offers many more benefits. It is becoming difficult to scale resources on-the-fly to meet the increasing demand. Capex to Opex: Cloud computing shifts IT expenditure to a pay-as-you-go model.

Here are the benefits of cloud computing:

  1. Getting rid of the technical debt within the customer’s landscape
  2. Change the actual cost model of your SAP landscape
  3. Cost savings achieved through right sizing
  4. Increasing value of the landscape by having systems available only when they are needed
  5. Faster deployment times - flexibility
  6. Enhanced security features
  7. Reduced footprint

As the key benefits are quite significant and in alignment with the futuristic technology approach, here comes the second concern: Which cloud service provider must one opt for?

Here are a few key points which will help you to understand why Microsoft Azure is the most advantageous platform for deploying SAP applications.

1. Windows is THE most common platform for SAP apps by market share. Platform products like MSFC integrate natively into Azure (do not require any third-party tools). SQL Server is one of the most common DBs for SAP apps and offers many key features like blob storage, column store and push down for SAP.

As technology has evolved in the last decade or so, Microsoft has also invested heavily on technology growth to be the market leader. Microsoft, being a very large SAP customer, helps itself understand the practical details attached to the technology world as a customer and service provider, which results in providing better products and services to SAP and MSFT customers.

Microsoft invests heavily into Azure’s capabilities around SAP applications. Azure customers benefit directly from their joint innovations to run SAP apps better, faster and cheaper and get the best out of both software stacks.

Key benefits:

  • Lowest risk cloud platform for SAP
  • Best integration (Microsoft Failover Clustering, Azure Site Recovery, etc.)
  • Global insights into innovations
  • Continuous innovations

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2. Unlike other service providers, Azure offers 99.9% availability on a single VM and up to 99.99% of availability with VMs in availability zones and for large HANA instances.

Key benefits:

  • Better availability = less business interruptions
  • Higher end-user satisfaction

3. SAP integration with Microsoft solutions (e.g. Office 365 withSuccessFactors, Ariba, Concur etc.). Azure Active Directory integration(SSO), Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite integration with SAP Fiori &Microsoft Power BI connectors. Azure Data Factory integration for SAPHANA and Business Warehouse. Azure Logic Apps Integration with SAPdata.

Key benefits:

  • Lower integration effort = lower costs
  • More options to tap into PaaS services = business value

Microsoft offers highly automated DR technology Azure Site Recovery (ASR), which is unique to Azure and significantly lowers the cost and complexity. Disaster Recovery (DR) in Azure is between regions resulting in geographically dispersed DR capabilities.

Key benefits:

  • Lower business risk
  • Lower cost through automation and DR VMs are offline (ASR). This also provide a flexible replication option for hybrid environments

4. While other cloud providers offer very basic contracts, Microsoft provides its customers with full enterprise agreements, offering the possibility of discounting and price protection.Existing EA licensing also enables cost savings on operating system running costs through Microsoft Hybrid Use Benefit Program, only available on Azure.

Key Benefit -:

  • Mature Enterprise Architecture framework
  • Flex. payment options
  • Hybrid use benefits
  • Reserved instances

5. Azure is available in 58 regions and 140 countries around the world, which is twice as many as other service providers.

Key benefits:

  • Mature enterprise architecture framework
  • More options if going global
  • Wide selection of native language support.

Several other service providers have a strong focus on IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) on their cloud offering.

Key benefits:

  • Faster innovation
  • Ease of deployment
  • Faster value realization with PaaS and SaaS

Microsoft is the only cloud provider that can offer the infrastructure (Azure), the operating system (Windows) and the database (SQL Server) for SAP applications, which results in less vendors and better accountability.

  • Better accountability
  • Less ‘finger pointing’
  • Better and faster issue-resolution

Another key factor is that Microsoft Azure offers a comprehensive set of compliance aspects to help organizations comply with national, regional, and industry-specific requirements governing the collection and use of data – this is the widest range of certifications of any public cloud.

  • Highest compliance, thus reducing business risk
  • Compliance tools reduce effort

I trust the above information has given you the confidence and reason to move your SAP landscape not only to cloud, but to Azure Cloud.

With my experience, I have been able to place the SAP cloud services into four pillars, these are -:

  1. Assessment -: This service will help customers define their ability to move to the cloud, the sequencing of the migration and the execution plan
  2. Migration -: Cloud migrations need care and attention to detail. Without a solid foundation in SAP and cloud, you risk the migration activity.
  3. CloudOps -:Running AMS on Cloud is not the same as on premise – the team needs to understand how to operate SAP landscape with the dynamicity of cloud environments
  4. Accelerators-: Tools which can help customers accelerate their cloud migration journey

I will be discussing more in my next blog. Until then, keep learning and shining.

Reference links:

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/virtual-machines/workloads/sap/get-started

https://partner.microsoft.com/en-US/solutions/azure

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/compliance/offering-home?view=o365-worldwide

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About the Author

Samarjeet Singh
Global Head, SAP Database & Technology

Samarjeet manages a team of consultants, advising customers on projects focusing on roadmap, design, deployment, migration and upgrade of SAP ERP. He also contributes to Bluefin and Mindtree's SAP Global Leadership, and is responsible for a team of more than 100+ consultants within India.

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