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This post is the second in a three-part interview series with Brian Burke, global SAP solutions executive with IBM SAP Alliance. To read this first part of the interview, click here.
Thoughts on Cloud (ToC): What questions should companies ask a prospective managed cloud services provider for SAP S/4HANA?
Brian Burke, global SAP solutions executive, IBM SAP Alliance: S/4HANA demands high levels of availability, performance and storage capability, so you must be sure your cloud provider is going to deliver what you need. A clear understanding of service level agreements (SLAs) is crucial.
Most cloud vendors offer a standard 99.5 percent availability SLA, and many provide enhanced options of up to 99.7 percent for S/4HANA. However, nearly all cloud SLAs for SAP S/4HANA are measured differently.
For example, some providers offer SLAs at the hardware and operating system (OS) level only. These SLAs ensure that the server is on and the OS is running, but they do not necessarily mean that anybody can use the application. What good is that?
When you’re evaluating cloud providers, here are some important questions to ask and have documented regarding SLAs: do the SLAs refer only to the hardware and the OS, or do they go to the application level? Are the SLAs guaranteed worldwide? How will SLAs be measured, and how are penalties calculated?
You should also ask about the provider’s strategy, solutions and schedule for SAP tasks such as backup, security and disaster recovery.
ToC: What type of support do cloud managed services providers offer for SAP S/4HANA?
BB: Many providers use pools of people who may possess different skill levels based on when they are working. If your environment goes down in the middle of the night, you may find yourself working with a newly trained resource rather than an experienced professional. That can cause problems, especially because certain workloads in SAP demand higher levels of skill to manage.
To drive accountability, the cloud provider should assign a project executive as the point of contact for issues as well as set up periodic checkpoints. If you have an issue, that’s the person to call.
ToC: What role do data centers play in choosing a provider?
BB: SAP ERP applications reach across your entire business, so a standard experience across global deployment is important. Companies should choose providers with a network of data centers that can deliver cross-regional consistency so that there’s no issue when you connect them all. Because not all workloads have the same requirements, companies may also want a provider that can deliver a hybrid solution that includes public or private cloud deployments or on-premises options if needed.
You also need to ask about the transparency of the data center. Where does your data reside? Many cloud providers will tell you the region, but that isn’t good enough for a lot of companies. They need to know the exact location of their data, either for compliance reasons or just for their own peace of mind.
To estimate your annual savings from implementing cloud managed services, try the Cost Benefits Estimator.
To learn how deploying SAP applications in a managed cloud environment may reduce complexities and costs, visit the IBM Cloud Managed Services for SAP website.