Session Recap: SAP in a Hyperscale Environment (Expert Q&A)
By Annie Kennedy, Associate Conference Producer
Kiran Musunuru, Vice President of Global SAP Cloud Practice at Atos, was the expert in his Q&A titled, “SAP in a Hyperscale Environment,” which aired live on day 2 of SAPinsider’s 2020 Virtual Conference Experience. Kiran shared key decision factors for evaluating hyperscale or public cloud providers with a particular focus on the transition to SAP S/4HANA, as well as preparing teams to support SAP in the cloud, and what needs should be considered when making that move to SAP S/4HANA in a cloud environment. The Q&A was moderated by SAPinsider’s VP of Research, Robert Holland. Here are a few snippets from the conversation.
Robert Holland: What are the transition paths available to organizations as they consider a move to SAP S/4HANA, and what are the pros and cons of those transition paths?
Kiran Musunuru: There are multiple options. The two basic choices are a greenfield or brownfield implementation, which is a system conversion, with a selective data transition, bringing in only everything that’s needed being a third option. All have advantages and disadvantages. More people are considering a system conversion than a greenfield implementation.
Pros and cons, and the transition paths themselves, depend on customer requirements. Greenfield works for brand-new customers, and it’s very minimal because customers are already running SAP S/4HANA and already spent a lot of time and energy putting those business processes in place. For customers who have a 20–year–old legacy SAP system, in that case it doesn’t make sense to bring everything into the conversation, and they can change their business processes by using brownfield. If they don’t want old history of data, they can go with selective data transitions.
RH: Why should companies consider using a public cloud environment? What advantages does it offer?
KM: In the past 2-3 years, many customers have changed to scalable cloud environments. They might wonder why they need to be part of innovating medical space, retail enhance sales, etc. The point of public cloud is enabling scalability, agility, and elasticity. The infrastructure of an SAP S/4HANA install now allows completion in a couple of hours of what previously would have taken a month. Users can concentrate on their business, leaving managing of the cloud to the cloud vendors who have a more sophisticated way of working with their data. Companies are seeing that it makes sense to join the cloud because if anything happens to the data center it can be completely inaccessible, whereas in the cloud you just call it up.
On-premise is cheaper than the cloud, but customers already did their math to decide to go to cloud – having a plan is Step 1. The cloud has more options than existing customer landscapes.
RH: SAPinsider’s recent research on Deployment Approaches for SAP S/4HANA showed that nearly 70% of respondents are considering some sort of cloud option for their SAP S/4HANA deployment, but only just over a third of that 70% are planning on using the public cloud. What are the differences in deploying SAP S/4HANA in a public cloud versus a private cloud environment?
KM: There are differences and different editions of SAP S/4HANA depending on the environment that you want to deploy in. The three main options are:
- The SAP S/4HANA Cloud Essential Edition is Multi-Tenant and is more like a SaaS-based offering that provides customization for functional and business processes. That works well for small companies who don’t need an IT team to manage them and for people new to SAP. Everything is a subscription-based license based on the number of users.
- Single–Tenant SAP S/4HANA Cloud Extended Edition allows customers the option of making their own changes and customizations. SAP doesn’t manage that; it can be on any of the hyperscalers or hosted on SAP cloud where users can access it, and there won’t be any changes. Whereas muti-tenant innovations are done every quarter; single-tenant innovations can be done anytime.
- The third option is an on-premise license which can run on SAP HEC but which is a manual installation that the customer must manage themselves.
With SAP S/4HANA Cloud Essential Edition and Extended Edition SAP provides end-to-end administration of the platform and functional services. The challenge is if you have any integrations, you can’t use those that the hyperscaler provides. The third option is more on-premise but running in a cloud IaaS environment.
Audience question: Which business modules like Sales, Inventory, Finance, HCM are going more likely to SAP Cloud?
KM: You can’t customize based on your business processes; you need to keep looking at it. From the ERP side also, these modules are already there, but the maturity point depends on the business processes from which you’re looking at it. Look at the implementation guides that change every quarter. (Robert noted that SAP traditionally had a standard September release; now the cloud edition varies from month to month in each quarter.)
Audience question: What sort of industries would be best suited for SAP S/4HANA Multi-Tenant and which are better for a single-tenant version of SAP S/4HANA for cloud? Whether the cloud is hosted by SAP or is a different public cloud provider, what would you think in terms of recommendations?
KM: This isn’t based on the industry, such as retail or medical or manufacturing, but on the processes and the size of the company and number of users. If you’re looking at a large company that’s multi-national, SaaS is probably not the right choice; it’s best for a new business that doesn’t have a lot of SAP history in place. A multi-national company that has been using SAP for 20 years should go to IaaS cloud, test processes, make sure they’re working out, and evaluate SAP S/4HANA.