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From IBM AS/400 to Azure

The prerequisites for end-to-end, global availability of SAP systems can be achieved in the cloud. Hansa-Flex opted for Microsoft Azure and successfully transferred its ERP system in record time of just a few weeks.
Markus Krenn, Arvato Systems
Maik Smuda, Arvato Systems
July 2, 2020
[ 1104506345, Leremy]
This text has been automatically translated from German to English.

Imagine an international group that has a total of more than 420 locations on five continents in 42 countries and also uses twenty different SAP systems.

Even if only a fraction of its 4,500 employees access the SAP systems, technical and personnel challenges in terms of 24/7 availability, fail-safety and scaling according to demand are pre-programmed. This was the situation faced by Hansa-Flex in 2018, which develops and manufactures hydraulic components and provides services.

Those responsible at Hansa-Flex were aware that a cloud solution beats the data center by a long way in terms of flexibility and security. For this reason, they had already decided in their long-term digitization strategy to replace the on-premises solutions with a suitable Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) offering.

Initially, the question of whether the operation of a virtual private cloud (VPC) was an alternative was also examined with an open mind. Ultimately, regulatory requirements for data center operation, the high operating costs, and the complex and highly integrative SAP application architecture to be mapped in the cloud spoke against it.

From ibm as/400 to azure

In addition, there were complicated hardware leasing contracts. Instead, the decision was made to host the SAP systems with a cloud provider in the future. This was done in order to relieve the burden on the company's own IT, to reduce operating costs through pay-per-use billing, and to save on hardware investments.

Microsoft Azure is the ideal cloud platform for Hansa-Flex. On the plus side, in addition to technical performance, are the strategic orientation and market penetration of the global player.

In addition, very powerful security and backup scenarios can be implemented in Microsoft's professionally managed environment, which a medium-sized family business would not be able to implement, or only at a disproportionately high cost.

The platform also scores with its high flexibility and demand-oriented scalability. The project team started planning at the end of September 2019. Around 30 people from Hansa-Flex and Arvato were part of it.

By the turn of the year, all relevant SAP systems should be running in the cloud. Included: a 10 terabyte IBM DB2 with around 80,000 material master data records.

An upgrade from R/3 ECC-EPH to EHP8-SPS-13 was implemented directly using the DMO process (Database Migration Option). In the process, Arvato completely replaced the AS/400 system and built a modern, cloud-based environment. In just 15 days, 1260 test cases were put to the test, and 4700 objects were checked for compatibility with the Hana database.

This made it necessary to transform, reorganize and compress the data during the move. Flexibility was provided by Azure NetApp Files, a new service from Microsoft launching in October 2019.

It can be used as an underlying shared file storage service in a variety of scenarios - for example, when migrating performance-intensive computing infrastructures and enterprise web applications.

From ibm as/400 to azure

Snapshots also make it very easy to create system copies - in a matter of seconds. After the move, the database was only a third of its original size. Looking back, team members agree that the scalability of Azure NetApp Files has made backup much easier.

Hansa-Flex and Arvato have achieved the fastest migration from SAP on-premises to Azure to date with the help of Microsoft technology. When the Hansa-Flex staff returned to their workplaces in January 2020, nothing (more) was noticeable of the changeover - apart from a few logon windows.

Significant cost reductions can also be expected in the medium and long term. Finally, cloud services are more flexible and easier to scale. The days of having to buy storage capacity several years in advance are over.

Today, the hydraulic systems manufacturer is the largest German midsize company whose SAP systems run on Azure. And it was the first German company to use Azure NetApp Files within an SAP project to run high-performance and latency-sensitive workloads in the cloud.

Markus Krenn, Arvato Systems

Markus Krenn is Customer Success Manager at Arvato Systems

Maik Smuda, Arvato Systems

Maik Smuda is SAP Architect at Arvato Systems

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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,
A-5020 Salzburg

Event date

June 5 and 6, 2024

Regular Ticket:

€ 590 excl. VAT


Event Room, Hotel Hilton Heidelberg,
Kurfürstenanlage 1,
69115 Heidelberg

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.