When I speak at conferences or with our clients, I get a lot of questions about our strategic SAP road map at Accenture.
Accenture has been on a journey to move to the next-generation ERP to prepare the company to meet future growth and deliver the scale, speed, agility, analytics and performance that will be needed. Accenture runs its core financial processing on a single global system instance of SAP® Business Suite on HANA along with SAP Business Warehouse (BW) on HANA. SAP BW is a mission-critical system that supports statutory and management financial reporting, consolidations and business forecasting.
At the same time, Accenture is leading in the New with a cloud-first, cloud-only principle for all new applications. In fact, we are currently crossing the 80 percent mark of production services in the cloud. Given these business drivers, our internal IT organization has taken a groundbreaking approach to migrating our SAP applications to the cloud.
This blog post focuses on our migration journey that took SAP BW on SAP HANA® to the cloud—in this case, to Microsoft Azure—in a span of only six months.
What we did
To go from on-premise to the cloud, we:
Migrated Accenture’s SAP BW from on-premise to Microsoft Azure.
Migrated Accenture’s enterprise database from Microsoft SQL to SAP HANA with Unicode conversion.
Performed two application upgrades: one to SAP BW 7.5 and the other to SAP Business Planning and Consolidation (BPC) 10.1.
How we did it
To begin, we knew we needed to stay current in terms of having the latest and leading ERP capabilities and we needed speed in our core database. To stay current with the SAP product road map and to support continued application security, we performed an application upgrade to SAP BW 7.5 and another to SAP BPC 10.1. We also chose this opportunity to migrate Accenture’s first major SAP application to the public cloud, to achieve greater scalability and environment efficiency.
Our initial internal IT project/migration team expanded to include the Accenture Advanced Technology Centers and teams from Microsoft and SAP, along with input from subject matter experts from our Accenture SAP Cloud Center of Excellence. From the business side, teams were assembled from Internal Business Operations, Finance, Global Controllership and Human Resources.
Working virtually, we all knew we were breaking new ground. For one, we were undertaking a move of Accenture’s entire 7 TB BW landscape and architecture from on premise to a public cloud solution that had never been proven at our scale. Second, once in the cloud, we would need to do a database migration from Microsoft SQL to SAP HANA.
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. Everyone 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.
Working from a blank slate, we 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, Azure ticket management, scalability and network performance. The result was a highly tuned platform that supports Accenture’s business needs.
Testing, migration and stabilization. We performed iterative test cycles, simulating three full business month-end close cycles. In the process, we 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—we 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.
We then put in place a high-priority support team from Accenture internal IT Operations, Microsoft and SAP for the first quarter of operations to ensure business continuity through stabilization. Fortunately, the new solution performed well and met all the business service level agreements (SLAs) with no major issues.Our results to date
With the power of HANA and the Azure architecture, our solution has resulted in the following benefits:
Moving to Microsoft Azure delivered on the business benefits of scale, agility and performance—capabilities that will support Accenture’s growth for years to come. Achieving this major milestone, led in large part by Anand Raval, Digital Analytics Senior Manager, and Abdel Altabarani, SAP Architecture Lead, in our ERP journey moves Accenture closer to realizing the significant additional functional capabilities of SAP S/4HANA, the final upgrade step in our journey.