Delivering SAP Solutions in the Cloud

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Written By Roger Brown, Technical Sales Engineer, SUSE New Zealand 

You’ve fought hard to retain your budget levels, had the OpEx versus CapEx discussions, and listened to the pundits. You are now committed to looking to the Cloud for your future SAP and other computing needs.  You already know that Cloud computing is the new panacea.  There is no denying moving your application servers, email and some desktop functions to someone else’s servers has the potential to save capital expense used for new hardware, reduce IT spending on feeding and watering swathes of in-house servers, and free up IT staff to look at enhancing business function.   

The dilemma then becomes what, which, where, and how to move those workloads to the Cloud. Do you move everything to the Cloud?  Do you build a hybrid environment where some applications or functions run in-house and some in the Cloud?  Each use case is different and unique to your business. In the end, you decide your course of action and set out on that path.  

Many organisations have started with the low hanging fruit of desktop applications.  Moving email and desktop services is relatively easy with services from Microsoft and Google, amongst others.  One of the benefits of Cloud-based applications is the ease of mobility.   Being able to securely get your email and access your business documents from any device anywhere is essential to be available and productive in our increasingly mobile workforce.  The current COVID-19 lockdown we are experiencing is testament to the need for uninterrupted business operations provided by Cloud-based services.

The next set of decisions may be regarding moving business application servers to the Cloud.  Does your organisation just want to pick up everything and move it all?  Perhaps move just one portion of the workloads, for example, development, and keep production in-house?   Or is there an upcoming event offering an opportune time to move some applications to Cloud-based?

Performing what is commonly called ‘lift and shift’ refers to moving exactly what you have to Cloud-based servers.   This use case can offer a relatively painless migration. One downside is you may be migrating any weaknesses or inconsistencies that may exist in the current implementation.

A widespread strategy is to move applications to the Cloud when a significant application upgrade or change is planned.  At SUSE, we see this extensively in SAP landscapes.   Many SAP customers plan moving some of their workloads to the Cloud while moving their database to SAP HANA, or as part of migrating to S4/HANA.

Customers will sometimes test the Cloud waters by migrating their test or development SAP systems to, generally, a public Cloud provider.   This allows a thorough evaluation of both the product and how Cloud services will integrate into their infrastructure.   It also provides a view of likely ongoing costs. There are plenty of instances of customers experiencing sticker shock as the monthly invoices roll in. A successful and cost-effective Cloud deployment also entails strict management practices within the organisation. Deploying workloads with ease, in the Cloud, often leads to the uncontrolled creation of Cloud VMs by almost anyone in the organisation.    Just creating a VM can incur a cost, having it started, incurs more, not shutting it down when not in use, and keeps the expense meter ticking over. Without internal oversight, costs can quickly get out of hand.

In A/NZ we have a predominance of SAP running on Microsoft Windows as the operating system of choice.  Many organisations have little, to no skills in Linux which is required for SAP HANA and S4/HANA.   SAP is developed on SUSE Linux, it is deployed internally within SAP on SUSE Linux.  SAP, SUSE, and major Cloud providers like Azure and AWS have worked extensively to provide an operating system specifically tailored for SAP, wizards, templates, quick starts, and other deployment options for implementing highly available SAP Cloud solutions at the click of a button.  

For those with little Linux experience SUSE has, within our SLES for SAP product, connectors that allow SAP administrators to monitor and control their highly available HANA environment running on SUSE Linux via traditional SAP and Windows Management interfaces.  Deploying SAP HANA on the Cloud on SUSE Linux is painless. Windows can still be the base for the other SAP application servers either on-premise or in the Cloud.  We all play happily together so customers can continue to benefit from the SAP platform and not worry about the underlying operating systems.

Roger Brown Technical Sales Engineer, SUSE New Zealand
Roger Brown Technical Sales Engineer, SUSE New Zealand.
Contact: roger.brown@suse.com 

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This article is sponsored by SUSE

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