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SAP and Azure: Paths to the Cloud

The cloud has also become an integral part of ERP projects in German SMEs. As is well known, many roads lead to Rome - and yet, in dialog with their consultants, companies are repeatedly faced with the challenge of finding the right path.
E-3 Magazine
February 21, 2020
Stephan Reiss Thomas Ahlers DSC2161 Cmyk
This text has been automatically translated from German to English.

But many companies feel left alone on the "right" path. In this interview, Thomas Ahlers, Head of SAP, and Stephan Reiss, Head of Technology Services/Microsoft Services at Sycor, clarify the questions that lie at the beginning of every successful cloud strategy: What are the benefits of cloud computing for my business, what about availability and security, and how do I actually get started?

Everyone is talking about the cloud and wants to move to the cloud. What exactly is the case for the cloud and for SAP on Azure in particular?

Thomas Ahlers: There are many reasons to choose SAP and Azure. Microsoft and SAP have been partners for over 25 years and both companies make extensive use of their partner's products.

In concrete terms, this means for the customer: Azure is designed for SAP and will remain so in the future. And with an infrastructure availability of up to 99.99 percent, customers can be sure that they can access their SAP system in Azure at any time - and from anywhere.

Stephan Reiss: By using SAP solutions in Azure, customers have access to standardized best practices and a reference architecture that enable a seamless migration to the cloud. Microsoft Azure offers a wealth of solutions - from Office365 to PowerBI, which supports SAP Hana as a database. This results in significant advantages in the use of both worlds and a best-of strategy. Customers can also rely on SAP on Azure when it comes to security and compliance.

How does Sycor find the right cloud solution for its customers?

Ahlers: As Sycor, we support our customers right from the strategy stage. Our consulting services are therefore geared towards the customer's value-adding business processes. With the current transformation in Germany, which is caused in particular by digitalization and is affecting almost all industries, the requirements for process automation and future business models are also changing.

Is technology important here?

Ahlers: Yes, the correct use of technological possibilities and the interaction of several technology components are a fundamental success factor. Many companies still underestimate the impact of the necessary dynamics and how important the right platform is for this.

Reiss: And this is precisely where hyperscalers such as Microsoft and its Azure platform come into play. After all, much more flexibility is required in order to take advantage of the new opportunities offered by a cost-optimized infrastructure and dynamic growth at the same time.

At the same time, the requirements for availability, especially for companies with multiple locations, and cyber security are also increasing. Regulatory requirements such as industry certifications must also be taken into account, which will require considerably more effort to meet in the future.

What is the first step on the way to the cloud?

Ahlers: As part of a preliminary project, our SAP experts thoroughly analyze the company's core processes and what they will look like in the future. One component of this is to evaluate the "deployment options", i.e. to make the added value tangible in particular.

How is that supposed to work?

Ahlers: To do this, we either "lift and shift" existing workloads, for example test systems, or provide an SAP demo landscape.

This is the first time that customers can really experience the opportunities. The flexible Azure Cloud helps us here, allowing us to provide a suitable landscape in just a few hours.

Reiss: The preliminary project also serves to prepare the infrastructure design by the solution architect, such as the connection of the data center, regulatory requirements and security design. In the past, weeks were invested in planning and costing.

And today?

Reiss: We can now often fall back on a ready-made blueprint. This allows us to provide the project team with the required planning values much more quickly.

And what happens after that?

Ahlers: Further detailed planning is carried out on the basis of the findings from the preliminary project. One component of this is the SAP system design by the solution architect.

This also determines the final technical requirements for the platform. This determines the degree of individualization of the system landscape or whether a standard solution design, blueprint, with little need for adaptation is used.

The advantage of the standard designs is that they can be made available quickly, in just a few days, to start with the project activities on the application side.

Reiss: Parallel to the project and further rollout planning, change management activities begin here at the latest. Many people underestimate the changes for end users, which is why early communication can reduce the barriers to a possible refusal to change.

Ahlers: I also see a significant advantage for Sycor here. We have been an SAP and Microsoft partner with Gold status for many years and are very familiar with both worlds.

In addition to our extensive process and solution expertise with regard to both SAP and Microsoft technology, we also have an experienced in-house change management team.

This once again underlines our "one-stop-shop for the customer" approach. With Sycor, customers get everything from a single source and only need one partner on their journey to the cloud and beyond.

But the customer isn't in the cloud yet, is he?

Reiss: Yes, one important step is still missing. Implementation begins with provisioning the right platform on Azure. The virtual data center becomes an extension of the existing customer data center.
What is important?

Reiss: The connection and security are some of the most important basic building blocks before the SAP installation takes place. The SAP project then starts with the configuration. As soon as the rollout begins, the Azure platform is also adapted to the expected workload. The rest of the rollout then follows the usual procedure for SAP projects.

Ahlers: The go-live marks the start of a new chapter, namely the operation of the systems. Stable and efficient operation. We then support the optimization of resources to support further company growth.

What is your experience: How quickly does a customer move to the cloud?

Reiss: This can even be done at the touch of a button within a few hours. Of course, only if all the framework conditions are right and the blueprint described above is used. But in general, we can say that we can get customers into the cloud within a few weeks.

In two weeks, we created a basic infrastructure for our customer Epsotech Holding on which the SAP project runs. We were agile during the project and were able to impress with a lean contract model.

Thank you for the interview.

E-3 Magazine

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