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April 09, 2019
Moving SAP to the cloud? Think GCP and keep a few things in mind.
By: Tomas Kandl and Muthu Maran

Most large companies are now at least partially in the cloud, not just to reap cost savings and efficiency but to be more agile as they compete with cloud-native startups. A recent Accenture study of CIOs in the United Kingdom found, though, that just four percent of ERP systems are fully cloud-native today.

In my work, I’d estimate one in five is in the process of moving their ERP system to the cloud, but the bulk are gearing up to do so in the next two to three years. Companies using SAP systems are seriously in this race because they see the 2025 deadline looming, in which all SAP customers must have migrated from any DB to S/4HANA.

Accenture, leaning on the Accenture Google Cloud Business Group (AGBG), is already helping some of those SAP customers bring their workloads to Google Cloud. AGBG combines Accenture’s enterprise, industry and technology expertise with Google Cloud’s innovative products and technologies. Clients around the globe come to us because we know cloud and SAP so well and are a part of the industry fabric. A growing number want to use the Google Cloud because they not only want their cloud built on the infrastructure that powers leading Google properties like Google Search and YouTube, but also they are looking for a trusted advisor to transform their business with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) applied to business use cases. Whether a North American media company or BBVA, a large multinational financial institution headquartered in Spain, I see companies aiming to reduce their total cost of ownership (TCO) while increasing speed, scalability, flexibility and security—and they’re looking to us as an award-winning Google Cloud partner to help them do so at speed and at scale.

With that in mind, I’m laying out a few things to consider for your own SAP transformation to the cloud, leveraging Accenture’s automation toolset for SAP on public cloud, which is now available for Google Cloud and enhanced by Google Cloud native capabilities.

Work from a solid, comprehensive migration blueprint. You want to deploy SAP applications and your underlying cloud infrastructure rapidly—going from on-premises to the cloud as quickly as possible, with little to no downtime. Working with Accenture, you will benefit from our CloudBuilder tool, which turns a process that typically can take months to only days. I’ve seen clients save up to 30 percent in their infrastructure build costs. So, a good blueprint is not just about speed, but also cost efficiency—and standardization, which saves you “custom” headaches down the road. Combining this with Google Cloud’s recently acquired Velostrata migration software, you can then migrate your SAP workloads with close to no downtime to Google Cloud. I am talking about seconds and minutes here as opposed to hours or days.

Automate wherever possible. Automation not only saves costs, it frees your teams to spend time doing more complex tasks that can’t be handled by machines. As part of our toolkit, Accenture will bring to you CloudRunner which allows you to auto-start and auto-stop your SAP environments, and auto-scale on an application server level scaling up and down as necessary. Automated thresholds allow your company to optimize its infrastructure easily. I’ve seen companies save up to 10 percent in infrastructure costs by employing automation to help them scale intelligently. When combined with Google Cloud’s per-second pricing model, that enables you to optimize your infra cost and reap significant savings.

Solve problems before they even occur with the help of predictive analysis. At Accenture, we’ve embedded what we call Applied Intelligence into many of our processes. Whether it powers automation in our SAP data quality as a service, whether it enables complex document processing with automated data extraction from the likes of invoices and ingestion into SAP built on top of Google Cloud, or whether it is through Accenture CloudAdmin, which automates SAP run operations and thus provides key tests needed before go-live dates to avoid problems before they occur, AI is the new normal.

Stay alert with end-to-end monitoring across the full technology stack, without losing sleep. From applications to the infrastructure layer, you want a solution that provides end-to-end monitoring, integrated with your SAP solutions. Accenture’s CloudMonitor provides that comprehensive view so your teams can gage the overall health of SAP apps. Other tools do the same, but I’ve seen ours cut false alerts in half.

Put security at the center. While most companies say they value security, I see too many try to save money in this area by thinking all cloud security is created equal. It’s not. Google invests roughly $2 billion annually in security. With Google Cloud, encryption is a default rather than an option, which is not true for other public clouds. Whether data is in transit or at rest and customers can bring their own encryption keys. Accenture’s Enterprise SAP Security tool also allows for automated housekeeping and audit reporting—as well as industry-specific jumpstart GRC kits.

In addition to all of the above, think about your cloud provider’s service level availability per virtual machine (SLA per VM) when you map out your SAP public cloud journey. For example, Google Cloud’s SLA is 99.99 percent on a single virtual machine, which is formidable and quite unique in the market.

That means:

  1. You need less VMs than with other clouds, hence a less expensive proposition.

  2. The architecture is significantly simplified.

  3. You can meet industry standard SLAs with less infrastructure footprint.

As your company continues to build its cloud-based muscle and transform its business for the future, I hope these thoughts are helpful as you contemplate to move your SAP farm as “lift & shift” or migrate to SAP S/4 HANA® and move to Google Cloud as a single step. I truly believe a trusted cloud journey partner helps. From advice on vision and value case, to migration, to making sure innovation is a part of the end game, working with a trusted expert who knows SAP, cloud and Google Cloud can save you headaches, time and money. If I can leave you with one thought as you embark on your journey today: The platform you choose should allow you to be as agile as cloud natives and unlock funding to help fuel your business transformation vision. Your future deserves no less.

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