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This post is the first in a three-part interview series with Brian Burke, global SAP solutions executive with IBM SAP Alliance.
Thoughts on Cloud (ToC): While SAP ERP users have until 2025 to migrate to S/4HANA, many businesses are already in the process of migrating to the platform. As customers prepare their move to S/4HANA, what are the first steps you suggest?
Brian Burke, global SAP solutions executive, IBM SAP Alliance: Moving to S/4HANA is a major shift for a lot of businesses. If you’ve been an SAP customer for years, moving to S/4HANA might seem very complicated. You may have to learn new ways of managing your enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications and handling your SAP infrastructure, but once you do, I bet you will be thrilled.
SAP data and applications are mission-critical assets that reach across the entire business. SAP administrators already know this, of course, because all the line-of-business leaders call them if something goes down. Because these applications impact every aspect of your business, the considerations to have to make, especially as it relates to the infrastructure, are of huge importance.
For example, I’m hearing stories from clients using SAP S/4HANA for quarter-close financials. Activities that used to take three weeks can now be completed in as little as three hours. Also, utilizing a quick, easy-to-use infrastructure like cloud enables SAP customers to have one less worry.
ToC: If clients are currently running SAP on premises but want to transition to cloud, are they migrating to both S/4HANA and a cloud infrastructure at the same time?
BB: Not necessarily. Many SAP clients are moving their SAP applications to a cloud infrastructure first, then migrating to S/4HANA. This two-step approach can make the migration process a little easier for businesses currently using neither S/4HANA nor cloud.
However, several companies that are being spun off into their own entities or that are going through mergers or acquisitions are jumping straight to S/4HANA on cloud. For those businesses, designing a new infrastructure from scratch is a good opportunity to migrate to the new platform and a cloud infrastructure at once.
ToC: What aspects of SAP S/4HANA make managed cloud hosting a particularly attractive option to businesses?
BB: S/4HANA is relatively new, so it might be difficult to find people with the skills to run the platform effectively, regardless of whether it’s deployed on premises or in the cloud. If you decide to go with cloud, a managed services provider can eliminate that problem by providing the skills to accelerate the migration process and optimize your ERP environment.
Remember, we’re not talking about standalone applications for a single line of business. SAP ERP applications are critical to nearly every aspect of your business, so consistent deployment is vital. If your ERP application needs to be deployed across regions, you need to ensure that networks, security, processes and procedures remain consistent. Managed services can help you deliver that consistent experience to all your users, whether they’re across the street or across the globe.
Also, don’t forget about non-SAP applications, which may have valuable data that needs to be shared with the ERP solution suite. A cloud managed services solution can help with integrating those applications into the ERP environment to drive more value.
To learn more about migrating your SAP Applications to the cloud, download the Frost & Sullivan Analyst report, “Transform Your SAP Deployment with Cloud Managed Services: Six Lessons From Users.”
For more information on how deploying SAP applications in a managed cloud environment may reduce complexities and costs, visit the IBM Cloud Managed Services for SAP website.