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SAP operation in the public cloud on the rise

In recent years, the use of public cloud platforms for IaaS and PaaS was characterized by the operation of digital workloads, mobile apps or e-commerce. This is changing with the increased maturity and usage of platforms from AWS, Azure, Google or SAP.
Carlo Velten, Crisp Research
August 24, 2018
SAP operation in the public cloud on the rise
This text has been automatically translated from German to English.

More and more companies are planning to run business applications on the leading public cloud platforms. In particular, the use of SAP applications in the public cloud is being evaluated more and more frequently and is already being implemented by cloud pioneers.

A recent study by Crisp Research and All for One Steeb shows that there are very interesting application scenarios, particularly with regard to global SAP operations and SAP-related analytics and Hana. In the context of digitization, the use of public cloud platforms has been increasing continuously for years.

While in the early years it was mainly start-ups and technology companies that developed and operated on the IaaS and PaaS platforms, demand is now being driven strongly by medium-sized companies as well as corporations.

On the one hand, they want to consolidate and modernize their IT infrastructures, and on the other, they want to keep up with the pace of innovation in the digital world.

The SAP migration towards the public cloud is gaining full momentum: one in four cloud users is already running selected SAP workloads in the public cloud.

Nevertheless, it has become clear that users do not choose too risky an entry into the public cloud when it comes to their SAP systems. However, once companies are convinced and have gained initial positive experience, the range of applications is very broad.

The basis and experience for this trend is the outsourcing of SAP operations in German midmarket companies and corporations.

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Right in the middle instead of just being there

This process is already well advanced. More than half of the companies have already outsourced their SAP operations to partners or service providers.

Operation in the public cloud is the next evolutionary step from outsourcing and managed hosting. IT and SAP decision-makers see greater agility in corporate IT (41 percent) and global availability of the IT infrastructure (40 percent) as the most important strategic opportunities of SAP operation in the public cloud.

Complexity causes headaches

However, the complexity of global cloud platforms is causing headaches for many decision-makers (38 percent) and, along with the cloud migration of SAP systems (34 percent), is one of the multi-layered challenges anticipated by IT and SAP managers.

Despite the high expectations of the strategic opportunities and advantages with regard to SAP operation in the public cloud, the decision-makers are also well aware of the risks. Many years of experience with public clouds as well as cloud architecture skills are required here in order to approach the topic prepared and expertly.

Cloud of choice

Even if some media only talk about Azure, AWS and Google when it comes to the leading IaaS & PaaS platforms, in the context of SAP solutions the SAP Cloud Platform (SCP) is naturally ahead. Almost two-thirds of the decision-makers surveyed (58 percent) rely on the SCP as their strategic cloud platform.

In addition, a further third (29 percent) use SCP on a project basis. On the one hand, this means that SAP has caught up in the race among global cloud platform providers. On the other hand, however, it also means that other criteria have weight and validity in the selection process, apart from the price and scope of individual features and services.

In addition to SCP, the Microsoft Azure platform plays a strategically important role for the majority of SAP users (45 percent). In addition, around one-third of the sample surveyed uses the Azure platform on a project basis (31 percent) to run SAP applications.

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Trust in long-standing partners

The SAP Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure are therefore currently by far the most important public cloud platforms for the operation of SAP workloads. According to the decision-makers surveyed, market leader AWS still lands behind IBM and Oracle, at least in terms of its assessment as a strategic partner.

Based on the results, it is clear that SAP users place great trust in their long-standing technology partners, even if hardware and software expertise can only be transferred to the operation of scalable public cloud platforms to a limited extent.

For example, AWS has offered a broad portfolio of certified SAP services for many years, as well as a variety of support options and a broad partner landscape. Nevertheless, it takes a long time for SAP users to break away from their existing technology partners and enter into new partnerships with the "pure play" public cloud providers AWS, Google or Alibaba.

One of the reasons is certainly that AWS, Google and Alibaba still had their focus primarily on start-ups and digital companies in the past three to four years.

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Industry and SME expertise and professional enterprise sales were mostly absent. As a result, there was relatively little exchange and trust-building between users and the "pure play" public cloud providers - at least on the subject of SAP operation.

Managed services are an elementary building block of SAP cloud operating concepts: The clear majority of the companies surveyed (79 percent) do not implement their SAP cloud strategies alone, but together with managed service providers and consulting partners.

The combination of genuine cloud skills (architecture, DevOps, automation) and many years of SAP experience describes the desired service partner from the company's point of view.

Unfortunately, there are still too few of these at present. Particularly as many companies are currently having difficulty recruiting employees who have the appropriate skillset and the necessary experience, especially with regard to the topic of public cloud (IaaS/PaaS).

Boost for public cloud

There is a clear sense that there will be a real migration push of SAP solutions towards the public cloud in the coming years.

This is because the mind-set of CIOs and SAP managers in companies has changed significantly, coinciding with a whole new level of performance at which public cloud providers are offering SAP operations.


About the study

With this study, Crisp Research and All for One Steeb present for the first time well-founded empirical findings and concrete recommendations for action regarding the use and operation of SAP systems on Azure, AWS and SAP Cloud platforms.

The study clearly shows how and why medium-sized and large companies are transforming their SAP systems to the public cloud - and which public cloud platforms the companies are relying on.

The study thus provides decision-makers from many business areas with insights and best practices for planning and successfully deploying SAP on the relevant IaaS/PaaS platforms.

As part of the study, 206 IT and SAP decision-makers in German companies were surveyed.

Carlo Velten, Crisp Research

Dr. Carlo Velten is a senior analyst at Crisp Research.

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