How does a company like Accenture address its own challenges around fast growth and keep up with the technology demands of running a $43-billion business?

Our response: We push the boundaries of technology and we apply the “New” now. We recently did this when we completed the move of all our remaining SAP® production landscape to the Microsoft Azure public cloud this past January—becoming among the first enterprises to run our production SAP S/4HANA® system on Azure’s next-generation virtualized architecture at scale.

We charted a journey

It has been a journey for us to reach this major milestone. It began several years ago when it was clear Accenture’s business was changing as the company was growing organically and inorganically. We knew we had to evolve our single global SAP enterprise system instance to be ready to support evolving business needs.

So, we put a plan in place that guided us through several stages of evolution, starting from when we were running our core financial processing system, SAP Business Suite on Microsoft SQL, in an on-premise data center to migrating that instance to S/4 and then ultimately to running it in the cloud.

We faced challenges

Before we reached that final point, we had to address a couple of challenges. The first was around the ability to scale. After we migrated to S/4, our existing on-premise hardware was reaching its capacity. We had to decide whether to invest millions of dollars in additional on-premise hardware or move to a cloud environment. Building on the success and stability of an earlier SAP BW on HANA move to Azure, our leadership had the confidence to move our most business-critical platform, S/4, to the Azure cloud. This direction is also in line with Accenture’s cloud-first strategy.

The next major challenge was that the necessary Azure operations architecture needed further enhancements to meet Accenture’s demanding requirements. It took Accenture and Microsoft coming together to innovate on developing an enterprise-ready operations architecture to support the criticality of Accenture’s finance and HR platform. Drawing on the strong relationship, teams from both companies collaborated on this effort—and we succeeded.

We achieved the outcomes we wanted

As a result, we moved S/4 along with two critical supporting functions, SAP Portal and archiving, to Azure. This set of moves completed the transition of our collection of SAP applications, positioning us to close the data center the applications had been operating in.

We are realizing three intended benefits:

1 – We now have flexibility on our infrastructure.

For example, we have plans in the near future to expand from 6 to 12 terabytes, and it’s just a weekend event that we will initiate seamlessly with minimal effort.

2 – We gain agility.

Being in the cloud, we can create test environments and we can explore new capabilities with the business at a faster pace than we did before. So, not only does the move to Azure support the growth of Accenture as a company, but it also expands our capability at a faster pace.

3 – It’s lower cost.

We’re saving money. As with any move to the cloud, you don’t save money when you move your first computer, you save money when you move your last computer. Accenture will be shutting down an entire data center, which will drive large savings that will free up funds for new investments.

Overall, the move to S/4 and the move to Azure achieved the business imperative of evolving our SAP enterprise system to prepare for Accenture’s future business needs.

Learn more about how we accomplished our journey: Accenture, Microsoft and SAP innovate

Steve Collins

Managing Director – Global IT, Chief Information and Process Architect

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