What can 27 years of experience teach you about moving SAP to cloud?

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Specialists from IBM and Frost & Sullivan recently published a webinar for CIOs on the perceived challenges and benefits of using managed services for migrating SAP to cloud. In this interview, SAP migration specialist Andy Hacket shares additional perspectives for IT leaders considering cloud deployments for SAP workloads.

Watch the webinar.

Thoughts on Cloud (ToC): In your new webinar, Lynda Stadtmueller, vice president of cloud services for the analyst firm Frost & Sullivan, shares information from a recent study which found that 76 percent of cloud managed services (CMS) users consider it to essential to their strategy. In your experience, what makes CMS so important?

Andy Hacket, cloud engineer and technical executive, IBM (AH): CMS can make everything simpler. You can focus your resources on more essential activities such as software development and application-oriented tasks without worrying about the technical side of maintaining those applications — installing software, patching and performance tuning.

IBM Cloud Managed Services also offer service-level agreements (SLAs) all the way up to the application level that help keep applications running with a level of security much higher than most companies can achieve on their own.

ToC: Lynda also said that 61 percent of non-CMS users anticipate influential line of business leaders will resist moving SAP workloads to cloud. Did you find that surprising?

AH: The fact that it’s as high as 61 percent was a little surprising.

There are a variety of initial fears that might cause leaders to be hesitant. They might believe that data is more secure onsite. They might prefer the idea of calling somebody in-house when they need something done. There are also misconceptions regarding the effects of distance on connectivity latency and performance.

The right provider can deliver a fully integrated, stable environment and provide fast, quality responses to your questions. But to really take advantage of these benefits, you need an aligned strategy across lines of business. I talk about the importance of this topic in more detail in the webinar.

ToC: More than three-fourths (76 percent) of non-CMS users are concerned about their ability to select the right partner to manage SAP in the cloud. What should these leaders keep in mind when choosing a provider?

AH: Lynda highlights some key considerations in the webinar, but I will add that one of the considerations is determining how closely the provider is working with SAP. This can be important when new products, such as HANA 2.0, are released. If the provider is tightly aligned with SAP, it may be able to develop points of use before the product comes out so you can time rollouts accordingly. Also, be sure they have the depth and resources to get up to speed on new products quickly. If they have a large customer base, they’re constantly learning new ways to use the products. As a customer, you gain the benefits of that expertise.

Look at the provider’s roadmap. Not all providers are operating at a profit, which means they may not be able to invest in improving their offerings.

On the other hand, IBM is investing in new technologies to improve performance. I shared details about this during the webinar.

ToC: About two-thirds (67 percent) of leaders believe they have “insurmountable challenges” for migrating data and workloads to the cloud. How would you respond to these leaders?

AH: Many of these systems and workloads have been migrated for decades, often to new generation hardware or from one data center to another. Maybe all these data centers were controlled by the customer, but the migrations have been happening.

The tools and methodologies have been developed and refined over thousands of migrations. The right provider will know how to deal with downtime requirements and the complexities of large systems. They know how to perform migrations in a more secure way. They know the right questions to ask to help ensure the interfaces work after the migration.

ToC: Andy, didn’t you recently co-author a book about migrating SAP to cloud?

AH: Yes. I wrote the book with Adam Bundy, an IBM cloud managed services specialist. The title of the book is SAP in the Cloud: Migration Roadmap and it was published by Wellesley Information Services (WISpubs). Everyone who signs up and listens to the webinar gets a free copy.

For more information on migrating SAP workloads to a managed cloud environment and the value that IBM cloud managed services can offer, check out the new webinar, “A CIO’s Guide to Managed Services and SAP Cloud Migration.

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