Which Cloud Skills are Needed for the SAP Cloud Transition?

Which Cloud Skills are Needed for the SAP Cloud Transition?

Reading time: 4 mins

The Cloud is the present for enterprise technology at many companies, but many more are still evaluating cloud options for core systems and data. In our latest technology executive research, we see that interest in the cloud is growing—strategic investment in private cloud more than doubled from 2021 to 2022 while buying or implementing new SAP cloud or SaaS software is also on the rise. Additionally, SAP has committed fully to the cloud with its product offerings. So, SAP customers looking to get the latest software will primarily be offered cloud-based products that are replacing legacy on-premise tools. We talked with Martin Stenzig, CTO at Rizing, an SAP partner, about how the SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP) is a key part of SAP’s drive to the cloud and the cloud skills that customers will need for the transition.

“SAP enhancements, including in the areas of Enterprise Asset Management and Human Capital Management, will materialize in the cloud,” says Stenzig. “These forces, along with the 2027 end of mainstream maintenance deadline, will require that customers become comfortable with BTP. It’s the integration hub and the extension hub for SAP.”

Stenzig says that he and Rizing have been part of SAP’s BTP advisory council, and that customers are still trying to understand the “90-plus” services that BTP offers. As he notes, most customers can only name two or three of those services.

There are many options for customers to access BTP, he explains, including a cloud credits program that allows customers to sample the more than 90 services without committing to buying a whole product. There are also pay-as-you-go options, and the Rise with SAP program typically comes with cloud credits as part of the package.

So, there’s a movement to the cloud and SAP is building out cloud options for customers. What do companies have to do to be ready for a cloud transition?

“Companies need to have cloud skills and knowledge, and that’s the challenge in the industry,” explains Stenzig. “Customers have well-established SAP support organizations, but the looming question is how do they move those to the new cloud normal? A lot of customers are still in the mindset of the 1990s and 2000s, and we need to get them to the 2022 mindset.”

The Cloud Skills Needed for SAP

In our CIO’s Agenda 2022 report, we found that there is a growing appetite for cloud skills at many organizations—41% of technology leaders are prioritizing cloud skills this year vs. 31% in 2021. What are cloud skills and how are they different from the skills needed for traditional SAP support roles? Stenzig says the biggest differences are around the SAP Basis organizations and SAP developers.

For Basis experts who have previously been working on a physical server, a foundation in cloud infrastructure is required. This involves producing scripts that define the environment, rather than assembling and accessing a physical, in-house server.

As for SAP ABAP developers, they typically have previously worked primarily in on-premise SAP systems, such as SAP ECC. In that environment, they had access to all objects and code lines. SAP S/4HANA Cloud changes that paradigm and forces companies to keep the core clean from invasive customization. Now, developers can utilize the SAP-provided APIs to make changes in a more controlled fashion.

“In the future you might not do Basis tasks yourself anymore, but you should have one or two people that manage the vendor performing those tasks for you,” says Stenzig. “You need an interface between the business users and SAP support organizations.”

He adds that some companies may be tempted to shrink support teams down to zero altogether but having that manager to work with external SAP cloud support teams and to help manage tickets that are sent out helps raise the chance for a successful cloud deployment.

There are ways that companies can keep SAP support in-house, and this happens when SAP systems are run in a private cloud setup on providers such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud Platform. In that scenario, Basis teams become cloud infrastructure support teams.

Organizations that have already been developing add-ons for SAP cloud solutions such as SAP SuccessFactors should have a good foundation built for the type of development that will be done on SAP S/4HANA, he adds. The types of APIs are similar, and the development approach and mindset required also align.

What This Means for SAPinsiders

  • Get educated on BTP. If your company is moving to the cloud with SAP, BTP will be the way you integrate your technology stack. Start by reading “5 Things to Know About SAP Business Technology Platform.” You’ll also find several BTP-focused sessions at the SAPinsider conference in July.
  • Identify cloud skills within your current SAP support teams. Can your Basis experts transition to cloud infrastructure experts? Training may be required, but also necessary to get the most out of your SAP cloud systems.
  • Don’t give up on in-house support staff entirely with The Cloud. Your infrastructure and support investments will be significantly less when adopting cloud software. However, it may be helpful to still have positions to help manage and track external support requests.

Meet the Experts

More Resources

See All Related Content