Are your SAP applications running at cloud speed? 3 questions to ask providers

By: Susan Wallace

Migrating SAP applications to the cloud is top of mind for many IT leaders. A recent Frost & Sullivan report cites that 26% of US-based enterprises have deployed SAP’s cloud-based S/4HANA system for at least some of their SAP workloads, and another 44% plan to do the same.

However, it’s not just a matter of moving to the cloud. The challenges range from finding skilled professionals to manage SAP applications, to identifying which apps to migrate, to security considerations. A well-qualified managed services provider can reduce the burden on IT resources and streamline deployment.

Here are three questions I recommend asking cloud service providers about managing your SAP environment:

1. How can you ensure my SAP applications stay up and running?

High availability for SAP systems is necessary, but as SAP continuously updates their products and new code is released to production, errors and downtime can frequently occur. So it’s critical to have a strategy to implement code that aims for limited or no downtime.

Choose a provider that offers service-level agreements for everything from the infrastructure up through the SAP application layer. Standard availability agreements are typically 99.5%, with high-availability options up to 99.9%. Ask about unplanned downtime-per-month and the penalties if terms aren’t met.

Also, when comparing cloud providers, ask them for disaster recovery plans. Consider those with worldwide data centers to help with country-specific compliance and disaster recovery.

2. What innovative technologies can be integrated to add value?

SAP solutions manage valuable financial, human resource and manufacturing information to name a few. By incorporating technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), as well as IoT systems or blockchain, you can unlock a wealth of data insights. For example, analyze unstructured customer data, add process efficiencies and uncover revenue opportunities.

Business leaders are taking notice. Research conducted by Frost & Sullivan found that 70% of IT leaders look to expand their IT landscape by integrating AI technology.

3. What’s the path to a successful cloud SAP deployment?

Gaps in security and compliance, services, technology and expertise could have serious consequences. Seek a provider that manages hybrid or multicloud environments, regardless of which cloud vendor you’re using. This provides consistency across your SAP environments. And be sure to find a managed services provider that gives you a single view across your SAP platform to simplify deployment management.

Here are some more items to pay attention to in your discussions with providers:

  • Security: Find out which features are built in or need to be added on, and the compliance fine print.
  • Expertise: Assess how many SAP application and S/4HANA migrations the provider has implemented, and what size enterprises they support. Application-level SLAs are useful too.
  • Choice: Look for multi-level management (infrastructure, OS, database, application layer) so you’re covered. And find out if the provider offers customizable services.

As you continue your journey to the cloud, view this cloud provider comparison guide for more details about how to choose a provider, including a checklist. Or watch a video about managed services for ERP workloads.

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About The Author

Susan Wallace

Global Product Marketing Manager, IBM Services

Susan Wallace is an IBM Product marketing manager with a 25 years of experience in SAP applications, oracle solutions and enterprise application management.