by Martin Vamplew
Supply Chain Focus - How to Manage a Successful Cloud Migration
Many businesses are considering how to move or already moving their SAP and other business systems to cloud infrastructure providers such as Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, or Amazon Web Services. This decision enables a wide scope of benefits, such as:
- Scalability – cloud infrastructure is unparalleled for its cost-effective ability to scale up or down quickly, allowing systems to be right-sized for normal demand and scaled up as needed for season/peak demand.
- Reliability & Resilience - the providers of cloud products have invested vast sums to create high-reliability infrastructure. With the correct architecture in place, your systems could be available 99.99999% of the time, without any unscheduled downtime. Recreating the same levels of resilience with private hardware in data centres is costly.
- Disaster Recovery (DR) – comprehensive DR and automatic backup options are available, with data replication across various locations, ensuring your data is safe and easily recoverable in the event of failure.
- Security - simplified administration with rules-based management and tools with easy to manage interfaces, blocking traffic at the network and application level, reducing the time and costs of management overheads.
- Monitoring and Analytics – when selecting a cloud infrastructure provider, you also benefit from their investment into monitoring services and tools within the platform. Taking advantage of this native capability provides alerting of a potential impending problem allowing you to take the necessary action required, quickly and promptly.
- IT Management – overall management is simplified and more agile. Changing platform configurations, adding innovation to your business, and scaling up can all be at speed with the click of a button. Moreover, the flexibility to access the landscape from any place allows for a more agile workforce.
- Environment – moving to the cloud can contribute to your environmental strategy; moving compute workloads from on-premises data centres to the cloud can significantly improve energy efficiency and reduce the associated carbon footprint. With monitoring and data available to support carbon offsetting, you can quickly achieve a more sustainable net-zero SAP landscape.
- Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) – Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) allows you to more effectively adjust and manage your infrastructure to meet the requirements of your SAP lifecycles, helping to reduce the overall TCO of your SAP landscape.
A successful cloud migration enhances the business by enabling agility; organisations can become more responsive to varying needs, and innovation bottlenecks are removed. A recent SAP business that we have migrated to Microsoft Azure is a great example of what can be achieved, offering the company the following benefits:
- More independent, cost-effective, and scalable infrastructure.
- Simplified IT landscape.
- Reduction in IT management overhead.
- Cost-effective - only pay for what is needed/used.
- Improved agility - scale up or down easily within minutes.
- Futureproofing for S/4HANA migration needs.
- Reliable, Resilient and Robust - 24/7 business continuity and security built-in.
- Expected to significantly reduce Total Cost of Ownership of SAP.
For supply chain and operationally intense businesses, these benefits can play an even greater part; creating resilience against the unique landscape performance demands of these types of environments, such as:
- Extended Working Hours (Multi-Shift / 24x7).
- Very High Transaction Volumes.
- Seasonal or Demand Variability Impact.
- Mobile Workforce.
- Warehouse Automation, Production & Operational Technology.
- Connected Assets & IoT Devices/Data.
- Integration / Interfaces.
- Time Critical / High Volume Printing & Labelling.
Getting this right will ensure that your supply chain and operations can perform consistently, continue to meet customer service levels, and protect the profitability of your business.
In this blog, you will learn how we achieve this for the SAP landscape and the advantages a cloud-based SAP landscape can provide to your business.
Rocket Technical Services: Building and running high-performance SAP environments for supply chain and operationally intensive businesses
Timing for your cloud migration
Having established some of the essential benefits of moving to the cloud, for many businesses, the critical question is not why, but when.
When to move to the Cloud?
For new SAP landscapes, there will be a compelling case for going straight onto the cloud, avoiding large capital expenditures (CAPEX) in favour of a balance sheet friendly Operating Expenditure (OPEX).
So why invest in moving existing landscapes? Reducing the costs of running and maintaining an on-premises system is the biggest driver for many migrations.
Where your existing on-premises or hosted hardware estate is performing well and meeting your needs, it can be harder to build a business case for moving to the cloud despite the benefits. However, tying the move in with other pivotal events quickly helps the budget stack up favourably.
- Company divestments of carve-outs.
- Hardware or software coming to end of life.
- Hosting contract commitments ending.
- Upgrading/migrating to SAP HANA-based platforms such as SAP S/4HANA, SAP S/4 EWM (Extended Warehouse Management), SAP S/4 TM (Transportation Management).
- Business growth requiring additional performance headroom.
Of course, the move to the cloud does not need to be an all-or-nothing approach. An incremental hybrid approach can work well alongside existing infrastructure and systems. Introduction of new decentralised platforms in the cloud, working with existing on-premises systems, for example, many businesses are running SAP Business Suite (SAP ECC) and introducing new digital supply chain platforms such as SAP S/4 EWM and SAP S/4 TM on the cloud, often in advance of a move to SAP S/4HANA.
Regardless of the reason for a migration to the cloud or, indeed, any business system project, a crucial consideration is the cutover window available; that is, the period the business can plan to be without their business systems to allow the changes to the landscape to be implemented into the production environment.
Migrations are incredibly challenging for all parties involved and require careful planning to ensure all the necessary steps and processes are accounted for and can be completed within the time-sensitive cutover window.
Key points to consider:
- Business shutdown process - what processes, interfaces and reports, plus technical activities such as backups, must the business run prior to the system shutdown.
- Any critical processes or services that must be able to continue off-system/manual required within the cutover, for example, if the business provides a call-out response or emergency service, e.g. Gas company.
- Migration tasks duration – production volume data loads or migrations can take up a considerable proportion of cutover window.
- Build pre-live testing as part of the final go-no-go, validating system user access and key processes.
Once the duration of the cutover window is established, assessing what can or can’t be performed in the available time or how different approaches to activities could utilise the available time is essential. A short versus a long cutover window will require differing approaches.
Short Cutover Window
When dealing with a short time window for a migration, we recommend using a technique that allows shorter cutover times.
A homogeneous system copy method can be used in this instance; a ‘like for like’ copy that means all components (Operating System, DB etc.) are the same in the new system as the source system. This allows other time-saving techniques to be used to prepare and align the current and new landscape in advance of the cutover; for example, we can ship the logs from the old database to the new database and apply them each day leading up to the cutover.
Where virtual machines are already in use, additional tools are available to speed up and automate aspects of the cutover, again saving crucial time.
Long Cutover Window
Where a long cutover window is available, more complex migrations can be accommodated, resulting in a change to the landscape in a heterogenous cutover.
- Upgrading or patching of SAP software as part of the migration.
- Transfer to a new DB or Operating System, for example, preparing for a further future upgrade like SAP S/4HANA.
This approach combines migration or modernisation steps, reducing overall effort but adding more potential risk to the project that must be offset with corresponding regression testing.
How to successfully execute a migration to the SAP cloud landscape
Designing and building your SAP cloud landscape, whether for a new SAP S/4HANA landscape or a migration of an existing landscape, requires a structured approach and a broad range of experts from your IT and business team.
We deploy the Launch SAP Cloud with Rocket methodology, an overview of which is provided below to help you plan and execute a cloud build of your SAP S/4HANA landscape or the move of your existing SAP landscape.
Preparation is essential!
Involving the business users and data experts in the process is the single biggest factor behind a successful migration. Assessment workshops can be used to clearly define the needs and carry out a comprehensive assessment of the available resources to describe a clear direction to achieve the business and IT goals across the full range of topics that should be addressed, including:
- Architecture of the current system.
- An inventory of all resources available within the source system.
- Architecture and functional capabilities of the target system.
- Resources required to conduct the migration and their available ability.
- What software, media, licences and toolkits are required to perform the migration.
- Clear set of deliverables required to achieve a successful project.
After the assessment workshops, the team must determine the hardware and software available to the migration project; these specific activities would include:
- Server registry.
- Current networking and infrastructure.
- Identification of all the elements of the SAP environment and any third-party software.
- Understanding whether the source system has sufficient storage, CPU and network capabilities to complete migration in the scheduled time.
- Determining whether the necessary data integration and data quality tools are available to the migration team.
Having the right resources available for the migration is critical to the project’s success; we would expect these key roles/personnel.
- Executive sponsor - Key decision-maker responsible for the migration.
- Project Manager - Project manager responsible for day-to-day project coordination, resourcing, and project delivery.
- Certified Migration Consultant / SAP Basis Consultants - Certified SAP migration consultant responsible for the technical aspects of the migration.
- SAP Technical Architect – Design and advise on the new SAP Infrastructure.
- Cloud Architect – Deploy the New SAP Infrastructure on the chosen Hyper-Scaler.
- Business Consultants - Key functional business experts responsible for verifying the migrated target system.
- Business Users – Key Users for testing the migrated system.
Only once this is established can we start to think about the migration. The planning for each migration may take a different path but will use the same methodology. The most important aspect of any migration is repeatability; without this, you cannot be certain the migration will be a success. Completing a dry run of the migration will always bring confidence to the stakeholders that the process is working and is repeatable.
How the right partner can help you achieve a successful migration
What does this mean for my partner selection?
Building high-performance landscapes in the cloud to support the demands of the intelligent enterprise with SAP S/4 or the unique needs of supply chain and digital operations necessitates a holistic architecture design across:
- SAP landscape
- SAP applications
- Cloud infrastructure services provider capabilities and tools
When selecting a partner to work with on your move to the cloud, ensure they can bring together in-house expertise and the necessary certifications across these skill sets.
SAP system migrations are notoriously challenging due to the potential impact that must be mitigated and the cutover window constraints. There are often multiple systems and many interfaces to other internal and external systems, so coordination and communication are essential.
In a recent system landscape transformation, we migrated 7 SAP systems in one single weekend, with users arriving back at their workstations on Monday oblivious to the relocation of the SAP landscape.
If you are considering embarking on an infrastructure change or just modernising your IT landscape, contact Rocket. We will be happy to help you plan and migrate your landscape successfully.