Virtustream Blog

Navigating Common Challenges to Maximize and Modernize SAP Workloads in the Cloud


in SAP, Cloud, Events

At this year’s SAP TechEd in Las Vegas, Virtustream shared its deep SAP expertise, learned about new product updates and industry best practices, and connected with customers to discuss the future plans for their business-critical data. It’s a great environment for sharing, learning and networking. 

From all my conversations during the week, one theme continued to be a consistent topic for customers. Migrating workloads to SAP can be a daunting proposition – specifically to SAP S/4 HANA®, due to the looming 2025 legacy SAP ERP deadline.

At Virtustream, we have managed thousands of SAP migrations for customers, and, in our experience, there are six big challenges organizations typically face. I spoke about this topic at the conference to a capacity audience, so I wanted to share them again in this blog post.

Know the Common Challenges
  • Establishing alignment between business and IT stakeholders
  • Handling the growing pains associated with increased complexity
  • Managing multiple applications
  • Avoiding migration issues while in the process of upgrading
  • Understanding the unpredictable costs related to the OpEx model typical of some cloud deployments
  • Lacking the know-how to leverage legacy custom code in a new S/4 HANA initiative

We’ve identified these challenges by helping customers navigate their SAP cloud migrations for more than a decade. For the purposes of this post, I’ve boiled down our broad knowledge into three expert tips to get you headed in the right direction.

Tip #1:  Understand Your What, Where and Why

Enterprise applications are fundamentally different than cloud-native applications, and it’s important to understand the difference. Characteristics of cloud-native applications can include structured automation of components, performance capabilities that include auto-scaling but don’t require sizing for peak usage, and a scale-out versus scale-up architecture.

Enterprise applications, on the other hand, can feature reliability and availability with resiliency built into the infrastructure, I/O-intensive performance that must be sized for peak workloads, security with tight controls and governance, and labor-intensive operational designs that include many manual administrative tasks with broad datacenter coverage expected from IT administrators.

Customers are moving their enterprise, mission-critical applications to the cloud for a number of reasons: complex application environments that are only getting more complex, growing demands on IT teams to deliver projects faster, reduced IT staff and budgets, and the overarching issue that application deployments, management and maintenance are incredibly time-intensive.

When we consider these challenges, we must also consider the elements of our solutions that are necessary to address a myriad of components with dependencies, systems that consist of layers of complex topologies, and the proliferation of components to be managed overall.

Tip #2:  Avoid These Five Industry Gotchas

There are five common industry “gotchas” to keep in mind when planning a migration:

  1. Sizing: Many customers have found it easy to add additional storage for their Oracle, DB2 or MSSQL databases. However, adding disks gets expensive when moving to in-memory because when customers grow the database, they not only have to grow the storage but the CPU and memory as well, all while maintaining SAP certification.  
  2. Maintenance, housekeeping and archiving: It’s important to “clean” Basis tables prior to migration to decrease the memory footprint. Having a data migration strategy on what to archive and what to move to the cloud is key to reducing time and expense of managing the data.
  3. Business Value: It’s crucial to understand the business value of migrating to SAP HANA®. It’s not a magic bullet, and custom code often needs to be re-worked to take full advantage of the technology. Remember to take into account that the processing is pushed from the application server to the database with SAP HANA.
  4. Underlying application problems: It’s important to migrate to a cloud solution before the SAP HANA migration, and to conduct thorough performance testing. With test results in hand, migrate to SAP HANA and perform the same tests. For example, we recently migrated one of our enterprise customer’s DB2 environment and found a 20 percent increase in performance. We then migrated their workload to SAP HANA and documented an additional 10 percent increase in performance from their original on-premises environment. Furthermore, before conducting any migrations, enterprises should outline their specific expectations to test and compare against once the migration is complete.
  5. Cloud Support: A significant question to pose: Does your organization have the in-house expertise needed to troubleshoot and manage SAP HANA in the cloud? First-timers often rely on the expertise of their service provider, as SAP HANA is quite different than traditional databases.
Tip #3:  Find Your One-Hand-to-Shake Cloud Partner

There are a few other things to consider that will help streamline your S/4 HANA journey, and that includes utilizing technologies that help keep the migration and management of applications moving quickly and efficiently. This include security and compliance, which the SAP Fiori® Anti-Virus and Protection product is well-suited for; data management with SAP® Data Hub; data optimization with SAP Data Management & Archiving Services; and for code migration, the Automated S/4HANA Code migration and adaptation services, which can help automate code where possible. These solutions together can help lower total cost of ownership, achieve data compliance, and improve system performance across the board.

Virtustream’s proven processes have been instrumental in helping our customers achieve their SAP migration goals. We take a comprehensive approach to delivering an end-to-end industrialized process to modernize enterprise applications while at the same time delivering highly tailored services across planning, migration, integration and optimization. We give our customers one hand to shake when it comes to delivering our expertise in infrastructure, operating system, database and applications stacks – all from one provider.

To learn more about how Virtustream can help with your migration needs, visit our customer case studies and SAP pages. And for more information about Virtustream’s work with SAP, see another recent blog from us, Make the Trek to S/4 HANA in the Cloud with a Trusted Guide.