Business transformation with S/4HANA and cloud managed services

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Cloud managed services SAP HANAThis post is the third in a three-part interview series with Brian Burke, global SAP solutions executive with IBM SAP Alliance. Read part one.  Read part two.

Thoughts on Cloud (ToC): In our previous conversations, you discussed how cloud managed services can provide the skills needed to realize the benefits of S/4HANA much faster. Do you have examples you can share?

Brian Burke, global SAP solutions executive, IBM SAP Alliance (BB): Sure. The first one that comes to mind is a construction services company that stored all finance, inventory, project and personnel data across multiple disconnected infrastructures. This meant that common tasks like month-end close sometimes took more than two months to complete because employees had to manually gather data from each environment.

Having such a segregated environment also made it difficult to quickly respond to shifts in demand projections when procuring raw materials. As a result, the company had to keep way too much inventory on hand.

When the company migrated its enterprise resource planning (ERP) suite to SAP S/4HANA, it deployed the new environment with cloud managed services. The company achieved a 90 percent reduction in time spent managing and maintaining the infrastructure by moving the day-to-day management to IBM skilled specialists. This approach also helped the company optimize its SAP environment by integrating end-to-end processes so data could be shared. That integration sped up reporting and allowed the company to be more agile in their procurement of materials, which reduced inventory costs.

Another construction services company used a similar approach, realizing a 15 percent cost reduction by eliminating the need to manage and maintain hardware.

ToC: What about disaster recovery (DR)? How can cloud managed services help companies get back online after a disaster?

BB: A large part of the value that cloud managed services can deliver is the ability to deploy across multiple data centers in the same country or even across continents.

For example, IBM worked with an international food manufacturing company to migrate its entire SAP ERP environment to a managed cloud solution and set up DR in another geographic region. This allowed them to reduce their recovery time objective (RTO) by 98 percent and improve their recovery point objective (RPO) from four hours to 15 minutes, improvements that are advantageous in such a competitive industry.

ToC: Business leaders today need to make decisions faster. How are companies using cloud managed services with SAP applications to achieve that goal?

BB: IBM worked with one department store management company that wanted to accelerate its fact-based decision-making abilities. The problem was that their existing analytics models — based on a traditional SAP Business Warehouse (BW) platform — couldn’t support its objectives.

The first order of business was migrating to SAP HANA. To do that, the company worked with IBM on a managed cloud solution to host the platform and simplify the transition to HANA. The solution was designed to handle high transaction rates and complex queries on the same platform, allowing users to make business decisions in near-real time.

Because availability of the services is vital in real-time decision making, these services also included service level agreements (SLAs) that improved availability rates to 99.5 percent for the application layer in development and testing and to 99.7 percent for the SAP Solution Manager layer.

This move to SAP in a managed cloud environment boosted the company’s ability to analyze and respond to various types of data, including customer trends, which in turn improved decision-making.

To estimate your annual savings from implementing cloud managed services, try the IBM for SAP Applications for Cost Benefit Estimator.

To learn more about the benefits of deploying SAP applications in a managed cloud environment, visit the IBM Cloud Managed Services for SAP website.

 SAP website.

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