Three key questions to ask before migrating to SAP HANA

By: Andrew Hacket

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One of my clients was evaluating a move from SAP ECC 6.0 to S/4HANA. However, the company uses Global Available-to-Promise (GATP), which aggregates demands from various sources into a single location, in its supply chain module. Because S/4HANA is a young product, this functionality won’t be available on the platform until a future release.

Their circumstances got me thinking about the many elements that enterprises should consider before migrating to SAP HANA. Here are my top three questions to ask before making the move.

1. Suite on HANA or S/4HANA?

While S/4HANA may offer the simplest experience and biggest performance benefits, it might not be the right choice for everybody at the start. SAP environments are often highly customized, and S/4HANA may not yet include all the functionalities you want for managing your critical data.

Instead, some businesses might start with Suite on HANA, which moves your database to HANA but keeps applications in their existing deployments. This can be a good first step toward S/4HANA as it is a HANA migration, but it does not alter your interface screens or functionalities. Companies can also adopt a hybrid approach — using S/4HANA for certain functions such as financials while keeping other applications in Suite on HANA.

So how do you decide which deployment model is right for you? Find a strategy to evaluate the impact HANA will have on your environment. IBM’s HANA Impact Analyzer helps you determine whether Suite on HANA or S4/HANA is the right fit by telling you how much remediation and effort you will need to migrate to either platform. The tool also projects the benefits you could receive from each platform such as fewer transactions, faster sign-ins and streamlined reporting.

2. How and where will you host HANA?

Once you’ve chosen a platform, you must decide how to host it. For many of my clients, their hardware is coming to end of life, and they’re switching to cloud rather than spending more money on physical infrastructure.

But there’s a lot to consider when colocating HANA databases, especially if you have large SAP databases. Not all cloud vendors can handle large HANA deployments. Or if they can, they may not be able to deploy them in virtualized environments that deliver the speed and flexibility to add capacity on demand while helping eliminate the disruptions associated with physical migration.

IBM recently announced the ability to host large SAP HANA databases on IBM Power Systems in the cloud. This new offering can handle up to 24TB in a fully virtualized environment, enabling clients to grow anywhere between 128GB and 24TB with SAP-certified sizes up to 24TB. This can be done in single TB increments instead of buying a new box with more space than is needed.

You also need to think about the skills needed to run the platform. HANA is still a relatively new technology, and finding the right people to manage it might be difficult and expensive. A better option might be using a cloud managed services provider that’s equipped with the expertise to optimize your HANA environment. Offloading the day-to-day management of your SAP environment can help reduce the costs associated with infrastructure and personnel while also freeing up your in-house staff to focus on more strategic initiatives.

The right cloud managed services provider should help set up your HANA environment in a security-rich manner that complies with your industry and geographical regulations. I recommend choosing a provider that also offers high availability architectures and fully integrated disaster recovery capabilities around the globe.

3. Do you need help with migration?

Ensuring a smooth migration goes beyond minimizing downtime. It also requires applying the right methodology to ensure your integrations with your in-house systems and workloads in other cloud environments work as they did before.

SAP systems have various interfaces, applications and complexities. In some SAP environments, not every aspect of the system has been properly documented, such as what firewall rules have to be open for integrations to work. When it’s time to migrate, integrations such as payment interfaces with banks or software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions for credit card processing suddenly aren’t functioning as they should.

To avoid these issues, choose a cloud managed services provider that uses rigorous methodology and testing to identify firewall rules and ensure everything is migrated correctly.

2018 SAPPHIRE NOW conference

I’ll be at the IBM booth 612 during the upcoming SAPPHIRE NOW conference, speaking with clients about their SAP environments and answering any questions about migrating to SAP HANA on cloud. If you’re interested in talking more or meeting during the SAPPHIRE conference, email me at andrew.hacket@us.ibm.com. To check out what IBM technologies you can find at the event, visit SAPPHIRE NOW. Also, feel free to download the book I coauthored about cloud migrations (use promo code CLOUDMAP).

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About The Author

Andrew Hacket

Cloud Engineer, IBM Services for Managed Applications

Andrew Hacket is an IBM Cloud Engineer and Technical Business Development Executive at IBM Cloud. He has 25 years of experience in IT, including system integration, system hosting, and cloud computing where he has served as a senior program manager and IT architect for large, world-class enterprises. He can be reached at andrew.hacket@us.ibm.com.

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