Connecting recently via video with CIOs in multinational manufacturing and financial services, it quickly became clear that the current crisis is painfully highlighting weaknesses in legacy systems. Instead of offering a lifeline, the systems they worked so hard to build are now working against them. They need to move and react, but they are locked in place. 

Said one CIO: “My IT department built tightly bound monolithic systems, which, until recently, was a source of pride and an example of engineering prowess. But now my processes are locked-in, and my data is trapped… 

Added another, “It will take another three years before we give this system and infrastructure the agility we need to respond in times of crisis.”

These challenges are echoed across many of our top SAP customers

The challenges of legacy systems, including hardcoded processes with planned incremental improvements, aren’t new. But the pressures brought by the pandemic are, and triaging those pressures will require digitally pivoting all aspects of modern businesses. 

As the Chief Technology Officer of Accenture’s SAP Business Group, I can see that clients are interested in modernizing their SAP systems and moving to the cloud – now more than ever, because it is the lifeline we discussed, enabling them to free-up investment funds and accelerate innovation. Fortunately, we had already rolled out a patent-pending architecture called “Digital Decoupling for SAP,” which is a Cloud Innovation Extension of the HANA platform bringing a differentiated value of hyperscaler cloud services. 

Rapid change is a lifeline

This digital decoupling architecture enables our customers to transform their IT systems faster, providing the agility to continuously innovate and respond flexibly to market challenges – while also lowering costs and managing risk. This is precisely what organizations need now. 

Amid the chaos, cloud comes into focus…

Here we are illustrating the unique value of Accenture Digital Decoupling for SAP offering with Google Cloud. Accenture and Google Cloud established the Accenture Google Cloud Business Group to drive innovation at scale. It was logical – and prudent – that we bring in Google Cloud in our digital decoupling development because of Google Cloud’s ability to organize the massive amounts of data from SAP and hundreds of other systems and applications. It’s empowering and huge for digital decoupling, which means innovation doesn’t have to be put on hold. 

The role of cloud is to bring capabilities that are otherwise not available to the enterprise. This includes access to “on demand” storage and compute capabilities, all with performance superior to individual data centers and at a fraction of the cost. It’s a game-changer, and that’s what organizations need right now. 

But why Google Cloud?

Google Cloud has a partnership with SAP to provide infrastructure certified by SAP to run all SAP systems, products, and components. Consequently, it is a natural choice to run digital decoupling workloads as well because:

  • Google Cloud’s global, extremely low-latency network is the perfect environment for real-time and near real-time digital decoupling, helping to move data in and out of SAP systems as fast as possible for processing and insight generation.
  • Organizations can build insight-driven use cases on top of Google Cloud’s big data ingestion and processing at speed, with globally available cloud-scale data services such as BigQuery™ enterprise data warehouse.
  • Google Cloud provides access to artificial intelligence and machine learning services, with support for automatic model generation for predictive and forecasting. Google Cloud also offers leading image recognition capabilities and many unique APIs, which make it extremely powerful for building fit-for-purpose solutions.
  • The platforms are encrypted by default with no performance overhead, with self-managed encryption keys as an option.
  • The infrastructure supports the most stringent SAP workloads, including virtual machines with up to 12 Terabytes of memory for SAP HANA (and 18TB and 24TB soon).
  • Live Migration capabilities, enabling the migration of workloads across instances without downtime during a software or hardware update.
  • Google Cloud also offers support for hybrid deployment strategies with Anthos, which means organizations can deploy digital decoupling workloads on the right infrastructure at the right time through a single management panel.

How to find a way out via Digital Decoupling

Identify use cases and key pain points: Digital decoupling is not a technology exercise. It should be based on business needs that would greatly benefit from Google’s Cloud capabilities.  Identify the key pain points that need to be addressed to drive competitive advantage. 

Improve your S/4HANA upgrade strategy: S/4HANA upgrades are a question of when, not if. Digital decoupling needs to be part of the S/4HANA upgrade roadmap. 

Implement technology building blocks: The technology building blocks that underpin digital decoupling implementations are well known (cloud-native architecture, data capture and extraction, real-time data streaming). Putting the technology foundation in place will accelerate the implementation of the business use cases. 

Prepare the organization: Digital decoupling leverages new technologies. This means many organizations have to build a base, preparing to adopt and operate these technologies before digital decoupling can succeed. The strategy: Evaluate skill and resource needs, then create a plan to cover the gaps. 

Are you ready to get started on your digital decoupling journey? 

The Accenture Google Business Group combines the best of Google consumer-centric design and innovation with Accenture Intelligence to help you unlock the value trapped inside your legacy systems. With more than 5,000 practitioners trained on Google Cloud and a market-leading cloud methodology, there is no other partner more qualified to deliver and innovate on Google Cloud. 

Visit us at to learn more about our offerings for SAP on Cloud and connect with our leaders in order to begin understanding how digital decoupling can accelerate your S/4HANA Roadmap to reduce the migration effort, accelerate the timeline and start delivering value earlier.

 See you in the cloud,

Professor Dr. Alexander Zeier


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Alexander Zeier Bio:

Prof. Dr. Alexander Zeier serves as Chief Technology Officer of SAP Business Group. Since Sept. 2017 he has been the global Line of Business (LoB) Lead for HANA-related Services in the SAP Business Group. He also is now the global Lead for Digital Decoupling for SAP, a flexible and resilient architecture which gives companies the agility to continuously innovate. He is co-inventor of a number of patents regarding In-Memory Technology and Applications, as well Digital Decoupling. Since 2009 he has been appointed as Visiting Professor at MIT and since 2013 appointed as Professor at the faculty of computer science at University Magdeburg. He is the author of more than 150 journal articles and papers with seven published books on IT and SAP. Prof. Dr. Alexander Zeier​ graduated from the University of Wuerzburg in business management (Dipl-Kfm./MBA), successfully completed his studies in information technology at the TU Chemnitz and gained his Ph.D. in SCM at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg.​

Disclaimer: This document is intended for general informational purposes only and does not take into account the reader’s specific circumstances, and may not reflect the most current developments. Accenture disclaims, to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law, any and all liability for the accuracy and completeness of the information in this presentation and for any acts or omissions made based on such information. Accenture does not provide legal, regulatory, audit, or tax advice. Readers are responsible for obtaining such advice from their own legal counsel or other licensed professionals.”

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Copyright © 2020 Accenture.  All rights reserved.

Prof. Dr. Alexander Zeier

Chief Technology Officer – SAP Business Group

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