Assessing public cloud feasibility
The effort began with an SAP program team from Accenture’s Consulting and global IT organizations assessing the feasibility of moving to the public cloud. The team conducted a proof of concept in the cloud and a vendor assessment, ultimately selecting Microsoft Azure for its capability to handle enterprise-scale requirements and its cost-effective pricing. This decision also aligned with Accenture IT’s cloud-first strategy for new applications and Accenture leadership direction to lead in the New. The challenge was heightened because no BW instance the scale of Accenture’s had previously moved to Microsoft Azure.
The full project kicked off with the initial global IT team expanding to include Accenture’s Global Delivery Network and teams from Microsoft and SAP, as well as input from subject matter experts from the Accenture SAP Cloud Center of Excellence. From the business side, teams were assembled from Internal Business Operations, Finance, Global Controllership and Human Resources.
Innovating a new solution
With no precedent, every aspect of an entirely new solution required innovation. Accenture, Microsoft and SAP engaged in extensive workshopping and designing. All parties needed to understand the different layers of the solution and how to enable each piece of the architecture to create the most optimal architecture for Accenture. This platform can now be used as a template for future Microsoft and Accenture customers.
Working from a blank slate, the combined team jointly designed and implemented the three primary pillars required to deploy the solution: Execution Architecture, Operations Architecture and the Operations Framework. The work included addressing critical items such as disaster recovery, high availability, data encryption, ticket management, scalability and network performance. The result was a highly tuned platform that supports Accenture’s business needs.
Testing, migration and stabilization
The team performed iterative test cycles, simulating two full business month-end close cycles. In the process, they continued to tune the environment to resolve issues until the close of testing. For production—the actual production migration to SAP HANA in Microsoft Azure—the team executed a carefully orchestrated set of activities in a 24/7 fashion by teams across the globe. The cross-team, complex cutover finished according to plan and the system was released to the full Accenture business on schedule without business disruption.
A high-priority support team from Accenture global IT Operations, Microsoft and SAP was put in place for the first quarter of operations to ensure business continuity through stabilization. As a precaution leading up to cutover, each key Accenture business constituent had developed extensive contingency plans, approved by business leadership, that were ready to be enabled in the case of a catastrophic event. The new solution, however, performed well and met all the business service level agreements (SLAs) and experienced no major issues.