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Analysts expect that up to 75% of all workloads will run on public and private cloud platforms by the end of 2022. Moving SAP to Amazon Web Services (AWS), one of the most broadly adopted public cloud platforms, has been part of that trend.

But should SAP be your anchor in the public cloud or the last application you move to the public cloud? The answer depends on your strategy. Let’s examine some of the factors you should consider.

Your deployment options

You should take into account platform and timeline considerations – two of the biggest factors – along with resource management, hardware refreshes and software renewals.

But the biggest decision you need to make relates to your SAP deployment model, which could be:

  1. Lift and shift (the as-is option): Popular if you need to quickly move on from your current infrastructure.
  2. Migrate and upgrade: Performing a technical upgrade to realize the benefits of a SAP HANA database without the disruption associated with SAP S/4HANA.
  3. All-in (the ‘big bang’ option): Going for it 100% – embarking on a planned migration that includes a full re-evaluation.
  4. No decision: Sitting on the bench.

Each of these approaches has its benefits and drawbacks.

The first three require expertise, so your best bet is to partner with a service provider that has experience in migrating SAP to AWS.

The fourth option – to postpone the decision for the time being – is likely to have major consequences down the line, especially if your competitors are already making the shift. But even if you’re leaning in that direction, you may still want to consult a service provider on the challenges you’re likely to face and the business case for starting your migration now.

First things first

When it comes to cloud migration, there are specific criteria and considerations for SAP.

For starters, which version of SAP will you deploy, and why? Which database will you use? You can’t always assume it will be HANA, and compatibility is everything.

SAP has moved the goal post on ending its Enterprise Core Components support, but that can be seen as a line in the sand that comes with penalties and financial implications.

That is where the right service provider comes in. They’ll have the expertise to help you make the important initial assessments and decisions that will affect your implementation down the line.

4 steps to getting going

The journey starts with what I’ll call ‘enhanced discovery’. I use this phrase to highlight that this process is not a checklist or boilerplate. The ‘enhanced’ part of the phrase refers to the level of effort required to reach an outcome that returns actual value. The ‘discovery’ part is about identifying everything discoverable and knowable.

To avoid pitfalls and underwhelming outcomes, be prepared to put in some extra time and effort from the start. The payoff, no matter where the journey takes you, will be worth it.

The first step is to find a partner that can help merge your public cloud and SAP strategies. Then factor in your deployment options: public, private or hybrid cloud? Also, will you opt for a cloud-first or a cloud-exclusive model? Remember, one size does not fit all.

After the enhanced discovery phase, you’ll form a hypothesis to test. Depending on your timeline, you may want to consider a SAP cloud assessment, a proof of concept (POC) or even a pilot. This will help you test latency and identify performance boosts and data points to bolster your business case.

Most importantly, it will allow you to find windows of opportunity. These windows will help you factor optimum dates into your plan and identify when it will make sense for you to pause.

With your strategy established and your course set, you'll be ready to explore options, timelines and budget. Your path should provide transparency, clarity and control. This process may sound complicated, but a SAP-centric partner can help simplify it.

Beyond migration

Fast-forward to run state. Now that you’re live, the ongoing security, operational and cost governances should deliver value throughout the lifecycle of your SAP deployment.

Let’s see how these governances are designed, managed and delivered.

SAP has minimal public-facing IP exposure, but it still has unique security exposures and therefore requires SAP security planning and mitigation. If your SAP security baseline doesn’t include ControlPanelGRC, then you may have left yourself unnecessarily exposed.

Operational governance is equally important but, depending on your service provider, the scope will range from a landing zone with infrastructure automation and orchestration to policy automation and orchestration. Start by determining how much control you want to retain over your infrastructure. The bottom line is that your operational governance should reflect your philosophy on standardization, automation and network baselines.

Most prominent among all the types of governance is cost governance. Think about it: you chose the public cloud for its agility and continuous innovation. Given its dynamic nature, you should be taking advantage of new features. So, to ensure you get the value you signed on for, your service provider should provide performance and cost data regularly, with structured reviews and recommendations.

Next steps

If you’re considering moving your SAP deployment to AWS, download our SAP on AWS data sheet, or read more about SAP on AWS and speak to an expert at NTT to find out how we can help you.

Jay Graboff is Senior Product Manager: AWS & Google Cloud Platform Innovation at NTT.