Cloud computing

Moving SAP Infrastructures to the Cloud

Don’t miss out on the economic, technological and competitive benefits of making changes

If business people have learned anything from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is that companies with remote workers can thrive in the new era so long as they have proper access to data, applications and colleagues they need to get their work done. This is true despite office closings, supply chain interruptions and employee dispersal worldwide.

What is enabling them to achieve this? It is cloud computing, sales of which have skyrocketed since the first quarter of 2020. By embracing cloud computing, companies in different industries have demonstrated that they can operate with the same level of coordination, agility, and competitiveness as before.

But for many businesses accustomed to having their information technology (IT) infrastructure on premise, moving to a full cloud “anywhere accessible” system requires a transformation. This is especially true when it comes to core business applications.

When the pandemic hit, many business applications were still running on premise with VPN access provided to a limited number of mobile workers. But this “limited number” became how ALL office workers accessed their work seemingly overnight.

The spike in demand on VPN infrastructure is one example that shows how difficult it can be to change in a short period of time and make adjustments to secure extra capacity or hardware upgrades in the middle of a pandemic. Those who were on cloud infrastructure had a much easier time adjusting.

We at Projexia are helping many clients in this space. Even before the pandemic, we were helping progressive companies rethink their IT infrastructures, specifically those that support SAP business applications. If you questioned the benefits you could attain by moving your SAP infrastructure to the cloud before the pandemic, you have even more reason to do so now. Herein, we make the case for why it is the right time for such a move, and what benefits you can expect.

THREE REASONS FOR MOVING YOUR SAP INFRASTRUCTURE TO THE CLOUD

When it comes to the cloud, you have three key reasons for considering a move. They are:

  • Technological
  • Economic
  • Competitive

Let us look at each.

Cloud’s Technological Advantages

Question: Is your company running the latest and greatest technology available from all your technology suppliers? Hyperscaler companies such as Microsoft, Google and AWS are. And they are constantly upgrading their technology infrastructures to ensure they are secure, resilient, scalable, and compliant with regulators around the world.

Furthermore, these and other cloud infrastructure companies have access to the industry’s highest-paid and most extensively trained talent available, work in sophisticated facilities globally and leverage some of the best industry practices ever developed.

Can you say the same about your company?

The fact is IT is probably not your core business. If not, then you may be delaying a move to cloud because you are waiting to fully depreciate your on-premise assets or are struggling to modernize an aging application that has been customized over and over.

If so, here are some sober realities: while you wait for aging equipment to depreciate or a customized app to be modernized, you’re exposing your infrastructure, data and applications to malicious hackers who love nothing more than old technology; it is easier to breach, after all. You are also denying your workforce the technological advances that can help it operate more efficiently and collaboratively.

Then there is the current workplace reality: We worked with a customer that could not update one of its on-premise systems because the building where the server was stored was locked-down due to the pandemic. That would not have been an issue if operations were in the cloud.

Is this “move to the cloud” necessarily a long and complex process? Not anymore. Our client Parrot moved a 4TB SAP environment serving 300 users in six weeks; another client in the energy sector, a subsidiary of a French utility, moved and transformed its SAP landscape also during the confinement period.

Cloud’s Economic Advantages

Did you know the average office worker relies on eight business applications to get his or her work done per day? Companies today spend roughly twice as much on SaaS applications per worker as they do on hardware devices for every employee.

This leads to another question: Do you know how much you are spending on IT per employee? With traditional on-premise setups, the math is tricky. You must factor in the cost of data center equipment, depreciation, support staff, software licenses and more. With cloud, these answers are merely a few clicks away.

Studies have shown that it costs around $500 (U.S.) per month to manage the hardware and software assets a typical office worker needs to get their job done.

And what about the return on investment? Well, client results speak for themselves: 10% performance gains, 30% on storage optimization and a 50% gain in productivity on operations are common numbers we see again and again.

You may have heard that moving to the cloud is expensive. Let us say this up front: it is not cheap. But we are constantly surprised by the number of customers that have no idea of the true cost of providing their employees the technology needed to get their work done.

Regardless, you simply must protect yourself today against long-term cap-ex investments bets that may or not pan out. A better approach? Shifting to op-ex spending that can be adjusted as needed to help you from over-buying in one area while preventing you from under-investing in another.

Cloud’s Competitive Advantages

If you use SAP ERP, then refreshing your investment in this solution is becoming unavoidable. Why? SAP S/4HANA offers real time analytics, the famed Fiori-user interface, better security, a simplified data model, extensions on SAP Cloud Platform and thousands of SAP-Qualified Partner-Packaged Solutions, just to name a few benefits.

What is reassuring is SAP has thought things through: your digital transformation can be paced at your speed and completed in gradual steps. You can use S/4HANA along with your current SAP ERP solutions with relatively few albeit important adjustments. You can also adopt a hybrid model including both cloud and on-premise applications to fit with your business needs and constraints, just like one of our clients that manufactures recreational vehicles (RVs).

And when you are done? Well, then you can operate at the same speed if not faster than the most competitive organizations in your industry. You will have greater insight into how your business operates, more knowledge about how you are interacting with your customers and the best security possible. You will also have greater functionality available to you at a fraction of the cost that it would have taken to have that bolted onto your on-premise environment.

The work we did for a major player in the renewable energy field exemplifies this perfectly. Just three years ago, the organization had limited technology resources but rapidly growing needs. Rather than invest in an expensive data center, it opted to invest in an SAP solution hosted on AWS. The decision allowed the company to interface any third-party application with its SAP ERP solution easily, with pace and agility — and without the worries of buying additional Infrastructure.

Will you miss the feeling of control over your infrastructure? You might at first — that is until you realize that your current infrastructure is limiting your agility, scalability, and security. Unless you truly want to dedicate your internal experts on online backup to multiple sites, data replication, disaster recovery, high availability and more, leave it up to a specialist... and focus your teams on transformation projects. You are not performing heart surgery on yourself after all.

IN CLOSING

Obviously, we are big believers in moving SAP infrastructures to the cloud. It is not technology bias nor profit motivated, rather just good business for our customers. We at Projexia have managed more than 100 SAP installations and migrations and we can accomplish this in weeks instead of months or years. As Canada’s top SAP partner, we know how to get it done.

If we have learned anything during this COVID-19 outbreak it is this: it has become more evident that cloud computing provides real benefits. This is true whether you are trying to move a simple workload to the cloud, an SAP one or an entire IT department.

Moving infrastructures made good business sense before the pandemic, and even better sense now.

 

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