A SAP HANA migration is a chance to remake your IT landscape. With the right choices, you’ll have something more powerful, more effective, and better aligned with the needs and goals of your organization. But as you’re evaluating the migration to HANA, it’s best to understand your SAP migration options.
SAP Migration Options — Defining Your Migration
SAP HANA Migration vs. New Implementation
There are two basic ways to get your company to HANA: migrating your existing landscape, and building a brand new one. In the first option — called a SAP HANA migration — you take your existing application, upgrade it (if required) and migrate it from your existing database to HANA. The alternative is a new implementation. You start over and re-implement your SAP solution. Although this is sometimes called a migration, it’s not really a migration, because you’re not moving your application. Although a new implementation may preserve at least some of your data, you’re rebuilding the landscape more or less from scratch.
Although it builds on your existing assets, a SAP HANA migration involves extensive changes to your existing SAP landscape. You’ll have to upgrade, patch, and reconfigure SAP ECC, as well as SAP and third-party apps. If you have legacy applications or custom code, there may be a lot of extra work to get your landscape ready. And that’s just the first stage of your SAP implementation, before the actual HANA migration.
If it sounds complicated, well, it is. But it’s by far the more common of the two SAP migration options. Rebuilding your landscape isn’t easy, but migration is still quicker, easier, and less costly than a new implementation for most established companies.
New implementations are useful for new companies, and those making major changes to their landscape. They may be moving from a different system to SAP, have lots of problems with their existing system, or find their current business logic and applications completely unsatisfactory, and want to make fundamental changes.
There are also cases where a SAP HANA migration would be so complex or time consuming for a particular user. A new implementation is a good option if you have extremely outdated software, or broken and antiquated business processes. In some cases, it’s also useful for landscapes with extensive, ad-hoc custom code, or businesses with a lot of historical data that they no longer need.
SAP Migration Options: Choosing a Provider
The provider landscape is complex and shifting, but in general it breaks down into four categories: hyperscale cloud providers, system integrators, value added resellers, and managed application providers:
- Hyperscale Cloud Providers (HCPs) are the big public cloud companies, like AWS and Azure. The benefits of HCPS are well-known: they offer highly scalable hosting, self-service, and a good set of tools for development and testing. Recently, HCPS have moved towards better production support as well.
However, for SAP HANA migrations, they lack some key features of managed cloud As the tenant, you’re responsible for migration, configuration, and day-to-day administration, which means you’ll either have to provide those competencies internally or retain another provider to build your ERP. Their lack of customizability is also a problem. The benefits of SAP HANA depend on a highly-tuned landscape, with high throughput, and consistent performance — something that is extremely difficult to achieve in a HCP.
- Systems Integrators (SIs) specialize in “integrating” multiple systems — i.e. making all your apps and hosting environments work together as a single solution. They may focus on particular areas that are useful for SAP HANA migration providers, such as the integration of legacy infrastructure with SAP cloud hosting. Some SIs are also value added resellers — companies that resell SAP licensing. This allows clients to buy and manage SAP licenses directly through the SI, rather than going through SAP.
Although many SIs are skilled in SAP, their narrow focus may make them less suitable than other SAP migration options for businesses that intend to outsource HANA tasks post-migration. Many SIs focus on a particular niche, and lack the skills to efficiently operate an entire enterprise solution. They may not offer next generation cloud automation, and aren’t particularly cost-effective at scaling. Overall, although SIs can perform competently in an SAP HANA migration, they generally don’t offer the best support for your ongoing cloud strategy.
- Managed Application Providers (MAPS) such as Symmetry specialize in providing extensive SAP HANA migration support, as well as ongoing managed services. We can address the needs of legacy systems such as the IBM AS/400, exacting industry-specific compliance standards, and other specialized requirements.
We can also offer a wider range of SAP migration options, including multi-phase migrations using hybrid cloud bridging. This allows clients to address needed upgrades quickly, while leaving silos and other lower-priority tasks for a later date.
Be aware that not all MAPs share the same breadth of competencies. For example, some managed application providers may not yet offer cloud automation and orchestration, or the ability to economically support traditional workloads alongside high performance SAP workloads. Assume nothing — make sure you’re choosing a MAP that meets all your needs.
SAP S/4HANA Migration vs. Suite on HANA
SAP HANA is a work in progress. Since release, SAP has worked to rebuild applications from scratch to better harness the capabilities of HANA. The dilemma facing organizations is Suite on HANA or S/4HANA — does it make more sense to move straight to S/4HANA, or stop at Suite, leaving the final upgrade for a later date?
With every new release, the case for S/4HANA migration gets more compelling. At this point, SAP has more or less completed rewriting apps for S/4HANA, yielding substantial gains in accounting, financing, logistics, warehouse management, and a wide range of other areas.
S/4HANA Finance has been lauded for benefits both on the front and backend. It combines the functionality of SAP Managerial Accounting with Financial Accounting with a simplified database structure, resulting in a much smaller memory footprint and better performance. It delivers quicker closing, and real-time reporting, and enhanced flexibility, supporting cash flow optimization, predictive modeling, and other advanced features.
There are still arguments for both SAP migration options, however. All the benefits of S/4HANA have to be weighed against the extra work during the SAP HANA migration. Because S/4HANA applications have been rebuilt from the ground up, they don’t map one-to-one to Suite apps. You’ll need to tweak your business logic, which can be a complicated process, affecting how SAP integrates with 3rd party apps. UX has changed for the better, with SAP Fiori offering greater productivity, mobility, and user satisfaction, but you still have to factor in the way your changing workflow will affect your users, and leave time for retraining.
Which SAP HANA option makes the most sense for you? It depends on your business’ needs, your existing ERP landscape, and your internal culture. Companies that are change-averse might want to start with an SAP HANA migration to Business Suite, so they can demo it before committing to more extensive revisions. If you have extremely complex legacy systems, or aren’t satisfied with S/4HANA functionality in a particular area, you may also want to wait on the process. However, more often than not, the benefits of SAP S/4HANA migration easily outweigh the cost.
SAP HANA Migration — Hosting and Operation
SAP HANA Hosting Options: Appliances, TDI, or Cloud?
For companies starting from scratch, an SAP HANA cloud solution is easily the best bet. It’s less expensive, more reliable, and allows you the flexibility to adapt a managed services model where it makes sense for your business. In other cases, the issue can get a little more complicated.
Companies have three basic options: SAP HANA cloud migration, appliances, and TDI. Appliances are brand-new, SAP certified hardware, that have all the components required to support the hefty computing requirements of a HANA database. They come in a range of “t-shirt sizes” to meet the memory and computing needs of the full range of HANA clients. The downside to this approach is that the appliances aren’t very scalable. Once you start to exceed the initial sizing requirements, you’ve outgrown the server.
One alternative to appliances is assembling a cluster using Tailored Datacenter Integration (TDI). This allows you to combine existing assets and supplementary hardware and infrastructure so that, together, the whole system provides the power of an equivalent appliance. This can be a good way to use existing investments, but it’s not as simple as plugging in a new server or two — the system needs to be designed and configured by SAP certified technicians.
Ultimately, the cloud is almost always the best SAP HANA migration option over the long haul. It replaces the unpredictable CapEx of running a landscape with a stable monthly OpEx, cuts costs, and eliminates the complexity of running and servicing your own datacenter. However, in the shorter term, you have to weigh existing hardware investments, software licenses, and other investments to develop the best SAP HANA migration strategy. In many cases, a short period of hybrid cloud hosting can let you get value from your investments, allowing you to move to a cloud hosting solution when the time is right.
The hybrid cloud isn’t just a temporary measure — depending on your SAP HANA use case, it can be the most effective permanent solution. Companies maintain hybrid approaches for a variety of reasons. They may use the public cloud for testing and development, while using the private cloud for mission-critical applications and demanding workloads.
There are also good use cases for hybrid cloud adoption with onsite resources. A hybrid cloud may be the best options for certain low-latency applications, where Internet bandwidth is inadequate and a high-speed connection is impractical or not cost effective. There are also other location-specific workloads, as well as compliance situations where maintaining some onsite hardware may be appropriate.
Keep in mind, hybrid cloud hosting involves tradeoffs. Adding more clouds can have negative ramifications for cloud integration, vendor management, visibility, and compliance. And if something breaks, too many providers can make responsibilities unclear, complicating remediation and recovery.
Fortunately, the next gen cloud addresses traditional public cloud benefits, such as self-service and scalability, while providing the performance and security of the private cloud. This can increase the benefit of your SAP HANA migration, by allowing you to shrink your vendor portfolio, simplify your security and compliance processes, and eliminate unneeded complexity.
SAP Migration: Options for Outsourcing
Unless you’re running a very large enterprise, you probably have little to no SAP HANA migration expertise on-staff, so outsourcing is a no-brainer. However, you need to be ready to undergo post-migration performance tuning, and have a team in place to handle tasks like SAP Basis administration, cyber security, SAP security, compliance, and DR/HA. The choices you make in your staffing model are every bit as important as the other decisions that go into your SAP HANA migration.
Most immediately, your existing SAP staff may not have the skills required to run SAP HANA. Experienced SAP ECC administrators may have a good sense of what database administration requires in general, but the particulars of HANA will be brand new, and it can be hard to find a qualified internal HANA team. With a managed services provider, you can plug immediately into an extensive talent pool with deep HANA experience, eliminating the talent search, or the risk of having an administrator suddenly leave.
Security and compliance are also good targets for outsourcing. Your company needs around the clock security monitoring to thwart attackers quickly, but most of that monitoring is just watching and waiting. Hiring monitoring and incident response teams to safeguard your business is cost prohibitive, but without it, you’re vulnerable to attacks. An outsourcing partner can spread the costs over multiple companies, providing each with much greater protection, while controlling costs. Similarly, if you haven’t fully automated compliance processes, an outsourcing partner can modernize your program, making it more effective and less costly.
We Can Help You Understand Your SAP Migration Options
AN SAP HANA migration isn’t just about ROI or compute — it’s a major step in modernizing your IT landscape, and the business that relies on it. We can help you understand your options, make strategic choices, and build a landscape that will support the ongoing needs of your business. Contact us to learn more.