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Avoiding pitfalls in SAP migration to the cloud

Public cloud is currently a recurring trend in the market, and Microsoft Azure is one of the leading providers in this area.
Michael Igel, Rackspace
Peter Kurnol, Rackspace
Christoph Reineke, Rackspace
September 28, 2020
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This text has been automatically translated from German to English.

More and more companies are planning to run additional applications in a cloud, or are already in the process of doing so - and not just Web Services, Office applications and Big Data, but also SAP. Microsoft and SAP already announced an intensification of their existing collaboration last year, explicitly including the integration of additional providers. For SAP users, this means a significantly simplified switch from their own SAP solution to SAP in the Microsoft Azure cloud.

My SAP is running fine...

For almost all companies, SAP is a - if not THE - core business application. Accordingly, availability and response time are non-negotiable and the systems are always reasonably designed to be fail-safe and future-proof.

And that's why, when it comes to planning and sizing, you can't just look at the current status, but have to take into account the development of the next few years and plan accordingly. The only question is: What will you actually need in three years?

What may still make sense from a technical (!) point of view in a static hosting solution - the planning and alignment of the system landscape with an assumed future workload - contradicts an economic solution that, in addition to targeted growth, must also always take into account the possibility of adjustments; and this applies just as much to positive upward business development as it does to temporary stagnation or downward development. No one wants the latter to happen, but it cannot be completely ruled out. Currently, the German government's Council of Economic Experts (the so-called "Wirtschaftsweisen") is forecasting a 5.9 percent decline in gross domestic product for 2020 and a 4.4 percent increase in 2021. However, the figures only reflect overall performance - the automotive sector, retail, catering, event organizers and some other sectors of the economy have been hit much harder and are experiencing sharp declines, while online retail and, so far, construction have come through the corona crisis well.

In addition, this crisis is accelerating the trend toward mobile working - home office is now the new standard for many employees whose work focuses on the office. But even in areas where it is not possible to work from home (e.g., trades, emergency services, nursing care, to name just a few), mobile access to data at any time and any place is becoming increasingly important.

Planning for future demand is enormously difficult despite initial positive signals in the economic development. This is where the principle of a dynamic cloud solution, in which resources can be adjusted to actual demand at any time, comes in handy.

Things get really exciting when it's not just about a sandbox system that you can implement with a few mouse clicks from the SAP Cloud Appliance Library (CAL) on Azure, but about mission-critical applications for which you need a guaranteed recovery time. Additionally, there's no getting around having to dig into a lot of SAP notes - especially when it comes to Hana with its special requirements. If you implement operation in the cloud with the same concepts as for "classic" hosting or as for an on-premises solution, the cloud-specific advantages are not exploited. The planning alone requires experience and competence in various areas. This know-how is not available in every company to a sufficient degree, especially not for the interaction of the different worlds. And once the planning expertise has been found, the question arises as to who should implement the whole thing and operate it professionally in the long term.

What do I get from SAP in the cloud?

Of course, you have to ask yourself this question. The answer, however, is quite banal: Save costs, reduce capital commitment. However, this is what every provider promises, whether cloud or not, and you have to be careful that you don't save money on the one hand that you then spend again on the other - be it through overly expensive operation or high costs when switching to the cloud. In that case, you would have a new platform for your SAP systems, but you would have gained nothing and, in the worst case, you would have annoyed your employees.

That's why you have to take a close look not only at operation in the cloud, but also at the path to get there. A competent partner is indispensable, and this partner should have experience in project planning, transition and operation. In addition, standardized and practical process models are indispensable in order to be able to determine the effort and schedule in advance. The whole thing must then also lead to meaningful savings - and with resilient values.

An example: At a well-known company in the consumer goods industry, the multi-tier system landscape designed by a large consulting firm with separate instances for S/4 Hana, BW4/Hana, CRM, TPM, GRC, PO, Bex Analyser, SolMan and Fiori was examined. The goal was clearly formulated: Cost reduction.

The utilization of the system landscape was below ten percent in some cases. The S/4 system had six application servers, although the performance of a single one would have been completely sufficient at this point. The cause of this massive oversizing was the choice of a classic sizing approach, in which resources were already planned and procured at the beginning of the implementation, some of which would not be needed for several years. The whole thing was like looking into a "crystal ball" with an uncertain outcome, and out of an abundance of caution, generous plans were made. In addition to the pure procurement costs, the operating costs could not be justified by the current capacity utilization. As already mentioned: from a purely technical point of view, perhaps all right and well-intentioned, but from a business point of view, of course, a real problem.

Rackspace Technology examined the current needs, created a viable concept for migration and for operation in the Microsoft Azure cloud, and additionally optimized the S/4 operation. Both costs for the transition to the cloud and for operation were taken into account. The result: This "rightsizing" saved more than 30 percent (corresponding to approximately 300,000 euros) of the operating costs per year. The savings also remain constant in the long term, as the systems are only adapted to the respective requirements in the event of corresponding growth - additional costs incurred in the cloud are more than compensated for by higher revenues. And all this in "real time" and not on the basis of advance planning.

And how can my company achieve such benefits?

There are many providers in Germany who competently and reliably operate SAP systems in classic hosting and have the corresponding experience. But what very few of these providers have is comprehensive cloud expertise - and that is what you need if the migration to the cloud is to be a success. To achieve such results and to be prepared for the years ahead, you need a partner with proven practical experience. Only then can you take full advantage of the benefits of SAP operation in the cloud and also get the costs under control in the long term.

The leading partner for SAP on Microsoft Azure is Rackspace Technology. Founded in 1998, Rackspace is a leading end-to-end multicloud technology services company, designing, developing and operating cloud environments on all major technology platforms, regardless of technology stack or deployment model.

Rackspace Technology customers have access to over 6800 employees worldwide, including over 3500 cloud-certified professionals. This guarantees competence in all areas and at all times, but also ensures personal contact persons on site for every customer, especially in Germany, Austria and Switzerland - here it is the German Rackspace Technology GmbH that covers this area with its own employees, but at the same time can access the entire know-how of the company. The focus is clearly on long-term cooperation with corresponding personal support around the clock - the company is large, but not so large that you as a customer get lost in a crowd.

As a pioneer in the field of cloud computing, Rackspace Technology makes the innovative possibilities of the cloud available to all companies from various business sectors to help them increase efficiency. And just like the technologies themselves, Rackspace Technology has evolved over this time to become a leading provider of specialized and seamless multicloud solutions.

Rackspace Technology leverages all leading technologies. This multicloud expertise enables organizations to achieve optimal results faster and more efficiently - for applications, data and security.

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Michael Igel, Rackspace

Michael Igel SAP Lead Consultant with 25 years of SAP experience at Rackspace Technology. His focus is on SAP NW, SAP HANA, SAP BASIS and infrastructure.

Peter Kurnol, Rackspace

Peter Kurnol is a Field Sales Executive at Rackspace Technology with a focus on SAP Managed Services.

Christoph Reineke, Rackspace

Christoph Reineke is a Field Sales Executive at Rackspace Technology with a focus on SAP Managed Services.

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Working on the SAP basis is crucial for successful S/4 conversion. 

This gives the Competence Center strategic importance for existing SAP customers. Regardless of the S/4 Hana operating model, topics such as Automation, Monitoring, Security, Application Lifecycle Management and Data Management the basis for S/4 operations.

For the second time, E3 magazine is organizing a summit for the SAP community in Salzburg to provide comprehensive information on all aspects of S/4 Hana groundwork. All information about the event can be found here:

SAP Competence Center Summit 2024


Event Room, FourSide Hotel Salzburg,
At the exhibition center 2,
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Event date

June 5 and 6, 2024

Regular ticket:

€ 590 excl. VAT


Event Room, Hotel Hilton Heidelberg,
Kurfürstenanlage 1,
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Event date

28 and 29 February 2024


Regular ticket
EUR 590 excl. VAT
The organizer is the E3 magazine of the publishing house AG. The presentations will be accompanied by an exhibition of selected SAP partners. The ticket price includes the attendance of all lectures of the Steampunk and BTP Summit 2024, the visit of the exhibition area, the participation in the evening event as well as the catering during the official program. The lecture program and the list of exhibitors and sponsors (SAP partners) will be published on this website in due time.