Understanding Your Options for Moving Your SAP To The Cloud

By , Jamie Spiller, and John Pawlikowski | 6 minute read | June 8, 2021

By now, you have heard that SAP will stop standard support of its legacy ERP by the end of 2027, when all SAP ECC instances must be migrated to the SAP S/4HANA “digital core.” Six years may seem like a long way off, but we believe planning your migration now can save a lot of headaches later.

Some organizations intend to migrate their legacy workloads to the cloud and S/4HANA at the same time. They believe their only option is to re-platform to cloud as part of the S/4HANA migration; however, in our experience, there is no need to wait to move SAP to the cloud. A “move then migrate” approach may be the most beneficial approach for many customers. Let me explain.

Move, then migrate

Cloud migration is a transformation that comes with its own inherent complexities. Moving portions of your SAP estate to the cloud today allows you to change business processes in advance of the move to S4Hana. Here’s why that matters.

Businesses need a digital core to take advantage of all the digital information that is moving in and out of the company and turn it into business benefits. Your legacy ERP system is already outdated when it comes to leveraging the intelligent technologies needed for competitive advantage. Digital transformation delivers competitive advantage by delivering cloud services such as AI, machine learning and IoT right away.

Digital from the ground up, the SAP S/4HANA digital core easily connects to people, devices, and business networks in real-time to give companies real-time visibility into all mission-critical business processes and deliver new value in the digital economy.

Why not experience the advantages of cloud, starting now? By migrating your current SAP ECC estate to the cloud as a first step, you’ll start experiencing the digital transformation benefits for current workloads right away – and a fast, seamless migration to S/4HANA when you’re ready.

Migrate to S/4 HANA and the cloud in one step

Another option to consider is to move straight from ECC on prem to S/4 HANA on a public cloud in one step. The advantage of this approach is that processes are redesigned immediately to fit your business and S/4 HANA digital core processes. In this case, the benefits of S/4HANA and your digital transformation may be realized sooner than with the “move, then migrate” option.

Remember, the one-step approach introduces two new paradigms to the organization — SAP on cloud and the new version of SAP – which makes change management more important. So which approach should you choose?  There is no right answer. We are seeing a mix in the marketplace: i) first becoming acclimated to having SAP on cloud, followed by a move to S/4 HANA or ii) going straight to S/4HANA to harvest process redesign in one step. Either way, you’ll need a partner that can navigate this consideration.

Key reasons for a two-step, cloud-first approach

If your planned migration to S/4HANA is still years away, we believe that taking a two-step approach may be advantageous over waiting. Why?

  • Digital transformation happens sooner. More than just a new platform, S/4HANA is the path to digital transformation, and moving to cloud is the first step. According to a recent Frost & Sullivan report, if SAP workloads remain stalled in yesterday’s technology, organizations are more likely to fall behind their competitors.
  • It’s better for business. SAP maintenance and support for SAP ERP 6.0 continues until 2027 – but then what? Consider the cost of add-on maintenance contracts, customization of your ERP ECC system to keep it current versus the cost-saving benefits of moving to a stable OPEX environment on the cloud. The cloud model helps you avoid the expenses of running your own data center while giving you a secure home for business-critical workloads.
  • Help is more available now. Migrating to S/4HANA is a lengthy, complex, digital transformation project, and few organizations have the necessary in-house skills for a migration of this magnitude. As we get closer to 2027, the number of qualified consultants available to help will shrink, and you could be competing with other organizations who are making the transition at the same time.
  • It is less disruptive. Certainly, an upgrade of this magnitude can be disruptive, but taking a two-stage approach can ensure a more seamless transition to S/4HANA.

Why run SAP on IBM Cloud?

For 84% of SAP customers surveyed by SAPinsider, the move to S/4HANA is driven by the need for digital transformation or to reduce legacy environments and technologies. Compared to on-prem systems, cloud-based systems are agile and flexible, and resources can be spun-up during high demand times or shut down to control spend and waste.

The IBM Cloud platform provides a full portfolio of IaaS, PaaS and SaaS solutions to support enterprise-scale SAP workloads. The IBM public cloud is designed to be an open, security-rich and enterprise-ready public cloud for business. IBM Cloud offerings include the broadest portfolio of SAP-certified infrastructure, ranging from bare metal, VMware, virtual private cloud (VPC) and IBM Power Systems Virtual Server products.

IBM offers easily the most extensive portfolio of SAP-certified infrastructure, ranging from bare metal, VMware, virtual private cloud (VPC), x86, and Power Systems Virtual Server products. About 15% of SAP applications currently run on Power, IBM is the only cloud vendor to provide SAP Certified IBM Power Systems Virtual servers.  Additionally, another 50%+ of SAP customers utilize VMware and IBM Cloud is the only cloud to offer production-level SAP-certified VMware environments.

Most unique about the IBM cloud is that you can build an environment in the cloud which mirrors your on-prem environment, with same level of control and security you have now. And we offer the highest data security certification in the industry, with keep-your-own-key (KYOK) security.

‘One hand to shake’ = less complexity

Why settle for just another cloud provider for your all-important migration to S/4HANA? IBM the only cloud vendor that offers SAP-certified infrastructure on cloud. We also have a full-service consulting team that can implement, migrate, and manage your SAP environment plus a large financing arm that can finance your SAP project in a way that makes it financially beneficial.

With more than 46 years of SAP experience and 37,000 SAP-certified professionals, IBM is a Global Platinum SAP partner and one of SAP’s most awarded associates. Plus, IBM Cloud provides a catalog of 200 services that companies can start leveraging right away. No surprise, then, that more than two-thirds of large customers planning a move to public cloud prefer IBM Cloud for their SAP applications.

Canadian customers who have concerns about the U.S. Patriot Act and data residency can rest assured that IBM Canada data centres offer Power Systems Virtual Servers and IBM Cloud, as well as a production-appropriate SAP certified VMware-dedicated offering in Canada.

Having just “one hand to shake” means fewer moving parts, less complexity, and fewer potential problems. Just ask our customers. Coca Cola European Partners (CCEP) successfully migrated its SAP workloads to IBM Cloud as part of a multi-year digital transformation effort.

One thing is certain: 2027 will come sooner than you think. Whether you move your legacy SAP ERP to IBM Cloud as part of a two-step process or migrate directly to S/4HANA in one step, IBM Cloud will support whichever path you choose. Let’s talk about how you can get started.

Learn more

Self-Assessment Tool:  IBM SAP S/4HANA – HANA Impact Assessment Tool

Request a 2hr, no-charge, Business Framing Session with IBM Garage

Whitepaper: Why CEOs Should Care About the Move To Sap S/4Hana

Webinar: Frictionless accelerated SAP transformation journey with SNP Crystal Bridge, IBM Cloud and Services

Jamie Spiller, IBM Public Cloud Sales Leader Canada

John Pawlikowski, WorldWide IBM Cloud Go to Market Offering Manager for SAP