The Black Art of Writing RFPs for SAP on AWS

Writing RFPs for SAP on AWS
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In the 12 years, Lemongrass has been in existence, we’ve been through our fair share of RFP experiences. They come in all shapes and sizes from formal Government frameworks, audited regulatory industry responses complete with endless annexes, to simple “Just give me a number and a timeline on a slide” requests. All of them however have a common flaw which is they’re never that “cloudy”. What I mean by this is that they are not designed to capture the benefits of running Mission-Critical SAP systems on AWS in an innovative, agile, and automated way.

In this blog, I’ll share some thoughts from the experiences we’ve had over the years. These thoughts will be from the science and engineering side of the fence and will help you ask the important questions from a cloud-enabled perspective. The first step is to dust off that 10-year-old procurement template, turn on Track Changes and consider including some of the following in your latest version:

  • Architect for cloud technology. Sounds simple right? You’d be surprised how many organizations still provide a system list and ask for a repeat subscription. This always results in the worst TCO, ensures you bring over your technical debt, and means you’re probably ordering a few sizes too large. The worst of them all, however, is building a Business Case based on comparing AWS EC2 & storage costs with the price of refreshing your aging P-Series / HP DL with the current version which happens to be on special offer from the local supplier. This misses the cloud benefits business case by a country mile. Even if you are planning a two-step move (lift & shift, then modernize) make sure you still build the case for a modernized architecture. Cloud solutions get cheaper by the month, are constantly up versioned, can be resized in a tiny maintenance window as well as scheduled for up/downtime so make sure you ask for what you use, versus what you have deployed.
  • Be Prescriptive on an outcome but don’t solution. Companies like Lemongrass have been doing this for a long time and are constantly learning how to optimize SAP landscapes. The best advice we can give in an RFP is to define your business requirements (TCO, agility, operate targets, etc.) but give the tenderer the space to demonstrate their knowledge and know-how. It’s a great way to separate those just reading one page ahead on the AWS guide versus those with deep experience. Give the responders room to differentiate and you’ll get a much more verbose and insightful response (or not, which is also telling!). Don’t be afraid to ask a supplier for their recommendations and observations as well. You might not be able to mark them binarily, but it will again show the depth of experience and provide perspectives you might not have previously considered.
  • It’s all about operate… One of the biggest mistakes we see is that organizations underestimate the cultural change that Cloud technology introduces. It’s dead easy to migrate into an agile environment and then completely choke the life out of it with rigid “hosting” operational processes. When the slowest moving part of your estate now becomes the quickest, you are only constrained by your own paperwork. Access to modern operations, Near Zero downtime maintenance, SAP DevOps agile working models, and preventable P1 detection all rely on a modernized way of working. We always recommend letting the vendor run the first year of operations to help you through this cultural shift even if it’s just in a “CoE” model to help you evolve on the job. A good partner will transform your experience of SAP. Don’t be afraid to ask them how and get them on the contractual hook to deliver it!
  • Work at Pace: Gone are the days of multiple month procurement timetables. In fact, by the time you get the response, the technology it’s based on has likely already evolved. A good vendor, with the experience you need, will be able to respond in just a few weeks. If they need longer, it’s usually a sign of either limited expertise, or the expertise resides on in the brains of an (overstretched) few, or they are not well versed and rely on collateral already to hand which is a clear sign of a less than ideal experience and the sort of lag you’re likely to endure in your first change request.
  • SAP on AWS Matters. It’s never just “Basis as Usual.” Look at the items you do repetitively today and remember that they can probably be turned into a few lines of python that, with a cloud formation, can be run “on-demand” for a few bucks. Make sure that the costing in the responses you receive is credible and you should see clear and accountable costs for Services, Tooling, and AWS cleanly split out for Migration and Operations. If you see a bundle of subscription costs, ask them to unpack that so you can analyze each for cost competitiveness and whether you’re being charged a mark-up on public cloud costs. A good vendor should actually help you reduce your AWS costs and have access to big discount models like SAP Migration Acceleration (SMAP) which knocks 1 year of EC2 costs from your SAP reservations.
  • Migration is just the beginning: Getting your landscape migrated is, in fact, the easy bit. The bit we see constantly overlooked is what happens after that where over 70% of the benefits dwell. You should be ensuring you have immediate access to native cloud improvements, have a deal that tracks AWS native costs vs. a fixed term mortgage as, in the world of cloud, the variable rate is guaranteed to drop. Be sure that in your QBRs you ask to see monthly calibrations on price and performance. Lastly, one of the big draws of cloud is “Beyond SAP” or the ability to access AWS-centric Data Lakes, Machine Learning models, and the automation of commonly executed tasks. This is paramount. To be bold, we’d go as far as to say you will not deliver the value of your SAP estate on AWS without this automation.

So, with your RFP templates tweaked and able to detect the right experience and progressive thinking, getting the most out of your prospective vendors should be much cloudier and the benefits you stand to realize a lot less foggy.

In case you missed it!
Our Lemongrass Live sessions on ‘How to write an SAP-Centric RFP for Public Cloud’ are available on-demand.

APAC Region
Speakers: Jason Nicholl, Executive Vice President. Mike Laanen, Technical SAP Cloud Architect & Cameron Inchley, AWS
Click here to register for our on-demand session

EMEA Region
Speakers: Ben Lingwood, Chief Innovation Officer. Alex Pond, Business Development Director & Keith du Plessis, Head of Solutions
Click here to register for our on-demand session

North America Region
Speakers: Gary Valentine, SVP Customer Solutions. Joe Melton, Cloud Innovation Manager & Jas Adams, SAP Technical Cloud Architect
Click here to register for our on-demand session

For more information, please visit our cost optimization page

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