SAP on AWS: Destination or Journey?
January 25, 2021
According to the analysts, we are on track to see up to 75% of all workloads running on public and private cloud platforms by the end of 2022. Moving SAP to AWS has been on both the leading and trailing edges of that trend. Should SAP be your anchor, or should it be the last application you move to the public cloud? The answer depends entirely on your strategy. Below we examine some of the factors to consider as you determine your path forward.
Your Deployment Options
Of course, there are multiple factors to consider when planning your strategy. Platform and timeline considerations are two of the biggest, along with resource management, hardware refreshes and software renewals. But the biggest “first decision” you need to make is around your SAP deployment model, (which every SAP user already knows by heart):
- Lift & Shift (aka, the “as-is” option): Popular if you need to quickly vacate your current infrastructure.
- Migrate and Upgrade: Performing a technical upgrade to realize the benefits of a HANA database without the disruption associated with S/4 HANA
- All In (aka, the “big bang” option): Going for it 100%
- No Decision: Sitting on the bench
Each of these approaches has its own discrete benefits, drawbacks and timeline. The first three will require specialized expertise – your best bet is to partner with a service provider who has “been there, done that” with regard to SAP on AWS migration. As for the fourth option, this kick-the-can approach will likely have major consequences down the line, especially if your competitors are making the shift now. But even if you’re leaning in this direction, you may still want to talk with a service provider about the challenges you’re likely to face and the business case for beginning migration now.
The SAP Factor(s)
When it comes to cloud migration, SAP tends to have a set of criteria and considerations all its own. For starters, you need to consider which version of SAP you will deploy and why. Which database will you use? You can’t always assume it will be HANA, and compatibility is everything. And with SAP moving the goal post on the end of ECC support, is SAP giving you an open-ended-extension, or did they just draw a line-in-the-sand that comes with penalties and financial implications?
This is where the right service provider can help – they’ll have the expertise and track record to help you identify the elements to consider and guide you as you make these important initial assessments and decisions that will impact your implementation down the line.
As someone who was raised by SAP Basis Consultants and continues to work for an SAP-centric technical managed service provider, I believe the journey starts with what I affectionally call “enhanced-discovery.” I coined this phrase to highlight the fact that this process is not a checklist or boilerplate. The “enhanced” part of the phrase speaks to the level of effort required to get to an outcome that returns actual value. The “discovery” part of the phrase shines a light on identifying everything discoverable and knowable. This approach is much more effective than applying an RFP mentality and using a server-mapping exercise to drive digital transformation.
To avoid pitfalls and underwhelming outcomes, be prepared to put a little skin in the game upfront. The pay-off, regardless of when and where your journey takes you, will come back to you in spades. The first step is to find a partner that can help merge your public cloud and SAP strategies. Then factor in your deployment options: will you take this part of the journey in public, private or hybrid cloud? Also, will you opt for a Cloud-First or Cloud-Exclusive model? Remember, one size does not fit all. This is your journey to be executed on your terms, your way.
After the enhanced discovery phase, you’ll want to form a hypothesis and then test it. Depending on your urgency (or lack of), you may want to consider an SAP Cloud Assessment, a proof-of-concept (POC) or even a pilot. Why? This can help test for latency, performance boosts and other data points that can bolster your business case. But most importantly, it can help identify what I refer to as windows of opportunity. These windows can both support optimum dates to bake into your plan, and just as importantly, identify when it makes sense to pause.
With your strategy established and course set, you will be prepared to explore options, timelines, and budget. Your path will be uniquely your own and should provide transparency, clarity and control. This process has a lot of moving parts and may sound complicated, but an SAP-centric partner can help simplify your engagement.
Fast forward to run state. Now that your landscapes are live, the ongoing security, operational and cost governances should deliver continuous value throughout the lifecycle of your SAP deployment. Let’s peel back these governances and explore how they are designed, managed and delivered.
While SAP has minimal public facing IP exposure, it still has its own unique security exposures and therefore requires SAP security planning and mitigation. If your SAP security baseline does not include CPGRC, then you may be leaving yourself unnecessarily exposed.
Operational governance is equally important but, can vary significantly depending on your service provider. The scope can range from a landing zone with infrastructure automation and orchestration to policy automation and orchestration. To maximize the value from this pillar, start by determining how much control you want to retain over the infrastructure when you get to run state. Bottom line, your operational governance should reflect your philosophy on standardization, automation and network baselines.
Of all the governances, none is more visible than cost governance. If you think about it, you came to the public cloud for agility and continuous innovation. Given the dynamic nature of public cloud, you need to be able to take full advantage of new features and implement them as appropriate. To ensure you get the value you signed on for, you should expect that your service provider is providing performance and cost data regularly, with structured reviews and recommendations.
If you’re considering moving your SAP deployment to AWS, I’d encourage you to talk with experts like the team here at NTT Managed Services. As a first step, download our SAP on AWS datasheet to learn more about the capabilities and expertise available to help you craft the journey that will get you to your destination successfully.
Jay Graboff is Product Manager, Cloud Platforms, NTT Ltd. Managed Services, Americas