SAP public cloud migration requires architectural rethink

While almost three-quarters (74%) of in-progress SAP S/4HANA implementation projects are being deployed on public clouds, analyst Gartner has urged IT leaders to avoid simply mirroring their on-premise setups in the cloud.

Gartner’s Top practices for deploying SAP S/4HANA in the public cloud report identifies several benefits of public cloud deployments, including the ability to scale SAP during peak periods and establish additional SAP instances, such as “sandboxes” for new projects. The analyst also noted that public cloud deployments enable IT leaders to gain additional value from data stored in SAP by making use of the advanced platform- (PaaS) and software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings from hyperscalers, including artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML), big data and the internet of things (IoT).

However, the report authors urged SAP customers to avoid copying existing on-premise installations onto the public cloud.

In the report, they said: “Customers choosing public cloud as their target hosting platform for SAP must refrain from mirroring the same requirements applied in their current SAP deployment. Often, many of these requirements were established years ago during the initial adoption of SAP and their current relevance may be minimal. This factor could also contribute to an increase in the total cost of ownership of the solution.”

They recommended that IT leaders work with business leaders to assess the  IT, operations and business key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure success of the initiative and create an architecture capable of achieving them.

Gartner’s research reported that, while comparing different cloud providers offering similar capacity on cloud regions within the same geographical area, the difference is often negligible. The analyst firm also noted that public cloud hyperscalers often offer migration incentives – such as Amazon Web Services’ AWS Migration Acceleration Program, Google Cloud Rapid Migration Program, and Microsoft Azure Migrate and Modernize – that decrease costs, including credits toward migration services from certified partners.

Gartner recommended that IT decision-makers ensure they have a full understanding of the different SAP components and how they interact within a broader cloud architecture. According to the authors, this ensures they are in a position to assess whether the proposed architecture is capable of addressing the KPIs agreed with the business.

The report also noted that cloud providers can offer different processor and memory configurations for SAP-certified instances. Gartner’s experts said this is extremely important while deploying advanced AI/analytics use cases within SAP systems. They also warned IT leaders to ensure the public cloud they select offers the level of integration they need.

“Verify that your cloud provider can support all the non-SAP systems connected to SAP (often called ‘satellite systems’) that you want to move to the cloud. They will also need to support third-party appliances (notably NetApp-based appliances) to reach the storage KPI that your solution requires,” they said.
Gartner warned that without professional help from a managed service provider, very few customers are able to master SAP on the public cloud.