COVID-19 has turned cloud from an aspiration to an urgent mandate—creating a new inflection point that requires every company to become cloud-first and dramatically accelerate the move to cloud. Cloud first is the foundation required for digital transformation, enabling resilience, trust, sustainability, speed and structural cost reduction.

The world we live in runs on the cloud. From personal computing to enterprise IT, the cloud is everywhere. Cloud isn’t just a technology for technology’s sake – it offers tangible business benefits.

From instantly accessible files and apps whenever you need them (undeniably essential, especially in these pandemic-hit times) to reliable business continuity, the cloud offers robust storage using the best evergreen server hardware. And what about cloud security? Cloud providers deliver security that rivals or surpasses anything even the largest organisations could deliver from their own data centres.

The cloud lets you scale your infrastructure up and down at will, expanding and adapting your business and giving you access to a wide and rapidly evolving world of microservices to help you innovate and support any technological opportunity that rears its head. And you get all of this without any capital investment from your organisation. Microsoft, carbon neutral since 2012, has committed to shifting its data centers to 100% supply of renewable energy by 2025 through power purchase agreements (PPAs). The company recently launched its ambition to be carbon negative by 2030 and by 2050 to remove all carbon emitted by the company since 1975.

These business-critical benefits are why organizations who run their business on SAP systems are looking to migrate their SAP applications to the cloud. Your crucial SAP apps – the apps that run your business and its day-to-day operations – have long been held back by on-prem hosting.

Do you want new technologies like AI and machine learning? Or easy access to the latest APIs? Need to ramp up your innovation? Well, so far your options have been limited. The cloud is your best choice to open the door to next-generation advances that will keep your business competitive well into the next decade and beyond. For this reason, over the coming three years, almost all SAP customers we work with are setting out on a cloud-first journey to move their SAP apps to the public cloud.

But the big question remains: which cloud service do you choose and what do you want to achieve? Do you want to:

  • Build new business models through participation in the API economy by extending your core business into an ecosystem through Azure API management services?
  • Proactively manage industrial assets while injecting true intelligence into your supply-chain by combining the power of Azure IoT and predictive analytical capabilities?
  • Delight your customers by offering them highly individualised and radically human self-service channels to improve access, increase reach and be always available?
  • Speed up (and smarten up) your decisioning by leveraging powerful Azure ML and AI capabilities fuelled by data from core systems?
  • Deploy an enterprise wide reporting solution that uses the latest data lake technologies?
  • Integrate SAP applications with Microsoft Teams to create a seamless communication and business process platform that runs your SAP processes in Teams?
  • Create additional customer, partner and end-user interaction channels through chatbots and Cortana?

Introducing ‘Together’

If you want many or all of these then one of your best choices: move your SAP instance to Microsoft Azure cloud. Once your SAP landscape runs on Microsoft Azure, a whole spectrum of technological options opens up, giving you the best of both worlds: the power of SAP combined with the technological prowess of Microsoft Azure.

Until now, the choice was binary. You put all your eggs in the SAP basket or ditch your long-serving and trusted SAP apps and go all-in with Microsoft.

Both options are acceptable, but the world does not need to be black or white. By putting these ecosystems “together”, companies can unlock significantly greater value.  SAP brings a wide customer install base, S/4 as a digital core (or ERP as the system of record), Line of Business solutions, and the Business Technology Platform as a further evolution of SAP Intelligent Technologies. Meanwhile, Microsoft offers the enterprise-grade infrastructure, databases, and a wide series of productivity and platform technologies including data lakes, AI/ML and IoT.

There is a middle ground where a best combination maximises business value. 

Bringing these two giant software and infrastructure systems together takes skill, expertise, knowledge and plenty of tried-and-trusted methodologies and processes.

That’s why Accenture’s Microsoft and SAP Business Groups joined forces to create best of breed combinations in a program called ‘Together’ to help organisations like yours take your SAP apps to Azure.

Of the Accenture customers that have already made the step to the public cloud, 60% have moved to Azure. And many more are planning to make the move soon.

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Let’s dive into the details

In today’s tech-driven world, consumer expectations are higher than ever. To stay one step ahead, you need to offer new capabilities before your competitors. To do this, you need to leverage micro-services, you need to go serverless, you need to be cloud native at hyperscale. Microsoft and SAP play at the centre of that world.

SAP Applications are fundamental system of record for your business. We get that. We also get the potential of new technologies. Machine learning, AI, advanced analytics, machine-to-machine communication – they all offer new way to understand your customers, enhance your supply chain and deliver beautifully customised services that increase sales and loyalty.

Our framework, consisting of cross-platform methodologies and software assets, helps you rapidly and smoothly integrate SAP Systems and Microsoft across a number of areas, what we call ‘accelerators’:

  • SAP Applications with Azure ML
    Let’s you easily integrate Azure ML into your SAP systems that run your business processes and SAP Cloud Platform applications. Azure ML is a cost-effective pay-as-you-go managed service that offers easy development through Azure ML Studio. It also supports a wide range of algorithms and robust MLOps and ResponsibleML capabilities. Azure ML is backed by best-in-class support for open-source frameworks and languages.
  • SAP Applications with Azure IoT
    Brings the power of Azure IoT to your SAP systems that run your business processes and SAP Cloud Platform applications. The Azure IoT Suite – comprising Azure IoT Central, IoT Hub, IoT Edge and many more features – is a true end-to-end solution for IoT, supported by a rich and diverse partner ecosystem.
  • SAP Applications with Azure Data Lake
    Automate your SAP data extraction services, Azure Data Lake deployment and integration with SAP data extraction tools. Azure Data Lake offers Hadoop-compatible endpoints, a full hierarchical namespace, a web-based drag-and-drop UI, native integration with Azure Active Directory and Power BI, integrated analytics, and support for over 70 data source connectors.
  • SAP Applications with PowerBI
    Microsoft Power BI is a self-service enterprise analytics tool, delivering secure, insight-filled dashboards to your SAP Systems deployment. PowerBI balances simplicity and performance with cost and compatibility: it supports popular data sources, offers seamless Excel integration, and real-time stream integration.
  • SAP Applications extensions with PowerApps
    Build new apps or extend existing ones with PowerApps’ low code/no code capabilities and high-speed, low-cost, mobile-ready app creation. Its standard connectors and tight Microsoft Office integration make PowerApps the platform to beat for modern UI and app development.
  • Teams as the new UI
    Microsoft Teams is the de facto chat-based collaboration platform for organisations everywhere. Integrate SAP systems that run your business processes with Microsoft Teams (and Microsoft 365) to create one point of interaction for all your business tasks, bringing customised workspaces, easy online meetings, and seamless integration with Microsoft Office, Power Apps and other enterprise applications.

Let’s look at some of these in detail to see the benefits:

  1. SAP Applications with Azure Machine Learning

A key part of the Together program is our Machine Learning Reference Architecture for machine learning services such as batch scoring, real-time prediction and distributed training with SAP Systems and Azure.

Our Machine Learning Decision Tree helps to identify the right SAP and/or Azure technology based on factors such data source, UI, whether cloud or on-prem and depending on the machine learning models used.

Case study: Supply Chain Intelligent Planner

  • Intelligent Planner combines SAP Cloud Platform and SAP S/4HANA with Azure machine learning algorithms.
  • Intelligent Planner automates routine supply chain forecast adjustments, correcting errors in current forecasting processes and predicting future demand. It analyses sales history and statistical forecasts.
  • Intelligent Planner helps supply chain planners to improve planning accuracy and accelerate the planning cycle, freeing up time to focus on business outcomes.
  1. SAP Applications with Azure IoT

There are an estimated 7 billion Internet of Things devices in use today. That figure is going to rise exponentially, especially as low-latency 5G connections become standard. But what can IoT do for your business?

It’s likely you’re already using IoT devices in sensors around your manufacturing facilities and supply chain. But there are new ways of using IoT devices that actively save your significant costs.

Case study: Smart Fleet

You might have heard of predictive maintenance and its potential cost savings, but does it often work quite so smoothly in real life? Our Smart Fleet application lets you monitor. Your vehicle fleet in real-time, connecting data into SAP Applications for full analysis.

But it goes much further than that. The logic built into Smart Fleet lets you predict when vehicles and components will fail. You no longer have to wait until a servo motor wears out, taking a vehicle off the road for days or even weeks. You can predict the failure and replace the part before it goes wrong.

  • Uses real-time telemetry to track vehicles.
  • Data is processed in SAP Systems.
  • Advanced algorithm ingests the data and produces a prediction on which vehicle and part will fail and when.

Microsoft Teams as the one-stop-shop

When you bring Microsoft and Accenture onboard, you don’t just get first-class Azure expertise. You also get the game-changing opportunity to use business collaboration tool Microsoft Teams as a single point of access. This means that all major tasks can be completed from the comfort of the Microsoft Teams user interface. Deep linking transactions across workplace apps? No problem. Seamless data interchange across multiple apps? Done.

Using Teams in this way makes life easier for your employees and delivers a coherent, frustration-free experience to your customers. It goes far beyond SAP’s standard UIs. It’s a single point of business interaction, across finance, HR, sales, customer service and much more.

Why Accenture?

So why are these organisations choosing Accenture and the Together initiative. Given these challenging times, many clients need to accelerate their cloud-first journey. Accenture and Microsoft have a proven accelerated migration approach with heavy automation, the needed security controls in place, and the experience to make it happen.

  • We know how to handle scale and complexity. Accenture has long experience and a deep knowledge of dealing with the largest infrastructures in the world.
  • We’ve built advanced tools and automation. Purpose-built for SAP Application migrations, the tools and automations we’ve built since 2016 help you keep costs down and save time.
  • Together with Microsoft, we are each other’s “go to” for complex migrations. Our ability to combine the best-of-breed technologies from Microsoft and SAP speaks for itself. We’re tightly integrated with Microsoft—when it needs a partner, Microsoft chooses Accenture.

Start your journey today

Learn how you can unlock more value by leveraging SAP Systems and Microsoft “together”. Contact us today to start your SAP-Azure migration journey. Visit us on:

Richard Holsman

Lead – Accenture Microsoft Business Group, Europe

Steve Deliën

Accenture SAP Business Group, Innovation and Thought Leadership

Amod Deshpande

Accenture Microsoft Business Group, Enterprise Cloud Architect

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