Building Resilience and Innovation
Technology Can Help Achieve Resilience and Innovation Goals during Uncertain Times
Meet the Experts
⇨ Start by building a technology platform that provides improved business continuity
⇨ Ensure that any technology platform being implemented provides a secure foundation for both SAP and non-SAP systems
⇨ Don’t underestimate the benefits that a properly managed technology platform can bring
Organizations today are facing a myriad of challenges. An uncertain macroeconomic climate, rising capital costs, a continued increase in global cybersecurity threats, supply chain issues, and skill shortages all impact their ability to innovate. These raise questions about the ability to ensure business continuity, build resilience, and understand where investment should occur and how to reduce costs without impacting growth.
These challenges are particularly relevant to SAP customers who are in the process of making decisions that will impact their business for the next decade. That likely includes decisions about their future ERP system and moving workloads to cloud-based infrastructures and environments. It has also raised the priority of updating and streamlining business processes, modernizing or decommissioning legacy systems, and becoming a data-driven organization. Underlying these goals is the need to improve both operational continuity and business excellence.
Business Continuity Is Key
According to SUSE Chief Innovation Officer Ivo Totev, business continuity is absolutely key for organizations to look at. “When you think about business continuity, it’s not just about your SAP system,” Totev stated in a recent conversation with SAPinsider. “It’s everything that communicates with the SAP system. It could be edge systems or other solutions that are connected to SAP systems.” Many organizations are focused on reducing downtime for SAP systems but may not be looking at the interconnected web of solutions that make up today’s business environment. If there are connection issues between any of those systems, overall business continuity is impacted.
The first step to ensuring continuity is with the underlying technology platform and operating system. When running solutions such as SAP HANA, it is crucial that interruptions be minimized because even milliseconds of downtime can cause data loss. Having an operating system that allows patching with zero interruption can be a major factor in improving continuity. According to SAPinsider research, unpatched systems are one of the biggest challenges that organizations face when it comes to cybersecurity. Only two-thirds of organizations implement required patches either immediately or on a regular schedule. Scheduling downtime for SAP environments can be difficult even when critical patches are released since those systems are frequently in use all day, every day. For example, removing the need to schedule downtime for the technology platform and the operating system to patch the system for important security updates has been a capability of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications (SLES for SAP) for many years.
But business continuity goes beyond simply reducing downtime. It includes operational excellence in IT processes and workflows, facilitating the move to the cloud, ensuring that systems are secure, and providing a platform for integrating, extending, and simplifying an environment. For organizations moving to the cloud, considerations must be made for multiple environments, which could include private cloud, hyperscalers, or RISE with SAP. It may also include a hybrid-cloud or multi-cloud environment. Organizations need assistance with application deployment and automation, as well as platform management and monitoring tools.
Securing systems is extremely important in today’s marketplace where more and more organizations are experiencing some form of cyberattack. One of the main routes for cyberattacks is misconfigured systems, but just as important is being able to patch vulnerabilities before they are exploited and ensure that security policies can be enforced without downtime. It is in response to these challenges that an operating system such as SLES can provide vulnerability management, live patching, and best practices and guides.
This extends to the broader landscape. The operating system must provide a secure platform for the entire landscape and might include IoT devices, containerization, and enterprise-supported container images and libraries. The management of these must also be simplified, something that solutions such as SUSE Rancher can help provide.
Building a Technology Platform
Beyond business continuity is the need for operational excellence and the operating system to be tuned for the applications running on it. That is achieved by establishing a technology platform. SLES for SAP Applications is an operating system that is designed specifically to meet the needs of SAP users and consists of software components and services that support those needs. But the collaboration between SAP and SUSE extends further than the operating system being expressly designed to support SAP systems.
“We’ve been co-developing with SAP for over 20 years, and this contributes a huge value to customers who are looking to find an environment they can trust,” said Totev. “In fact, SAP S/4HANA and SAP HANA are developed on SUSE, and we work very closely with SAP so that when issues do come up, they can be identified immediately.” Totev says that is why more than 80% of the customers running SAP S/4HANA and SAP HANA are doing so using the SUSE platform.
The collaboration between SAP and SUSE has been especially evident when it comes to RISE with SAP. According to Totev, the proportion of RISE with SAP customers running SLES for SAP is even higher than those running SAP HANA, and SUSE has supported RISE with SAP from both the technology and the go-to-market perspective. “Our strategy at SUSE is to provide the best operating system for SAP applications by creating a purpose-built system that is tailored to the specific needs of SAP customers,” said Totev. “This is completely different than adding some SAP-specific capabilities to a more generic operating system.”
Operating systems can also help ensure that organizations are configuring systems correctly by providing blueprints and tools to help administrators. SUSE uses the knowledge it continues to gain from being installed in thousands of SAP environments to provide best practices and configuration settings for the specific software that is installed on them. And that goes beyond system tuning to ensure that high availability is configured correctly.
“Don’t underestimate the importance of the technology platform when you’re running your SAP HANA and SAP S/4HANA systems because it really matters for moving to the cloud, security, and resilience,” emphasized Totev. “It shouldn’t be an afterthought. It’s way too important for organizations to get that right.” Making the right decision and investment is something that should be a priority in building a technology platform and should be central to any plans for innovation and transformation.
What Does This Mean for SAPinsiders?
SAP organizations face challenges every day. But regardless of the systems and software in use, there is a need for a platform that can help reduce costs and improve resilience, as well as facilitate the move to new environments such as the cloud. But what should organizations do when it comes to putting plans in place to build a technology platform for the future?
- Start by building a technology platform that provides improved business continuity. Any organization looking to deploy applications based on SAP HANA—whether on premises, in the cloud, or in a hybrid environment—must make an operating system choice. While it is possible to focus simply on the new environment, putting in place an operating system such as SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications across the entire landscape can provide significant benefits when it comes to operational excellence and the need to integrate, extend, and simplify environments. An example of this can be found with Bosch, which was looking to embrace a more connected future and provide closer IT integration.
- Ensure that any technology platform being implemented provides a secure foundation for both SAP and non-SAP systems. Cybersecurity challenges have become a part of life for IT organizations, with nearly two-thirds of respondents to recent research reporting that their organization had been subject to an attack on one of their cloud providers. Security involves both ensuring that patches can be applied painlessly and without downtime and monitoring systems for misconfigurations and vulnerable processes. Grupo Agora discovered that putting in place the right operating system can help achieve those security goals and help prevent future attacks. That should be a key consideration for any technology platform.
- Don’t underestimate the benefits that a properly managed technology platform can bring. Putting in place a technology platform that can support every SAP solution regardless of landscape or environment and that can integrate and extend to non-SAP applications needs to be the cornerstone of IT planning. An example of a customer doing that and reducing administrative overhead by 50% is Lenovo. Changing a platform depending on landscape can add significant complexity to operations. Landscape transformation such as the move to the cloud can be streamlined and accelerated by using the same platform. And most of all, the benefits that are offered to an SAP environment can be even more pronounced when the platform offers tailored tools for SAP applications.