SAP on Cloud is a ‘Work in Progress’, but major change is taking place

DSAG Technology Day, Germany

Since its launch in early 2015, the global adoption of SAP S/4HANA has continued at a steady rate, yet uptake in certain regions remains relatively low and work in progress. In Germany specifically, the appetite to make the move across is strong, although businesses have been slow to adopt the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution, according to ISG’s report last year.

The recent global economic challenges have exacerbated the issue, as businesses lock down their finances and continue to cut costs left, right and center.

However, tightening the purse strings isn’t the only item on the business agenda, as general operational efficiencies and digital security occupy the minds of those responsible for maintaining business output.

This year’s DSAG Technology Days are promoting the theme ‘Work in Progress’, highlighting the changing SAP industry and the need to move items currently ‘in play’ to ‘complete.’ For example, businesses still in the migrate phase are picking up the pace to join those in operation.

In the lead-up to this industry-wide analysis, we take a deep dive into these three core areas that continue to dominate business conversations.

#1 Cost in the Cloud

Unsurprisingly, for about 90% of companies, cost management is the main concern. Simultaneous cost reduction and enablement of business value – boosting agility and scalability – helps make companies more responsive to market changes and shifting customer demands.

Far from being solely the initial payouts that businesses make in day-to-day operations, cost – and financial risk – can stem from a broad range of sources. Disruptions in the supply chain, under-engineered systems and fast-growth competitors can all have detrimental effects on an organization. In addition, when dealing with business-critical systems like SAP, the impacts of downtime could be astronomical.

Understandably, no one wants to resort to doomsday preparations – but they equally cannot afford to ignore the worst-case scenario when immediate and long-term revenue is at risk.

The best practice is to aim for the best and plan for the worst. 

#2 DevOps in the Cloud

Admittedly, it’s hard to pinpoint the standard ‘way of working’ now, having experienced several upheavals already in response to changing global factors. One thing is certain however, flexibility and agility are central to continued business success.

SAP and DevOps were never particularly compatible, simply due to the unique, mature mechanisms of existing DevOps models and the complexity of SAP. However, continued evolution in the SAP on Cloud space means customers can now close this gap and bring a sense of cohesion to their business architectures.

There’s a real opportunity for businesses to adapt to the Cloud ways of working before taking the next steps forward – looking specifically at the rollout of S/4HANA – to help maximize the value from any upgrades. This is also where we see a direct link between cost reduction and working models as from agility naturally stems cost efficiency. Operating in the Cloud is also ultimately much more cost-effective, given the move away from the need to book storage or plan service space.

The savings generated from infrastructure changes can subsequently contribute to increased business value.

#3 Security in the Cloud  

We’re seeing more security people at the initial stages of the SAP on Cloud migration now more than ever before. In addition to the constant need to minimize business disruption as much as possible, there is increased involvement upfront from security teams in the face of mounting threats from ransomware.

Recent analysis from the end of last year reveals that Germany and UK are amongst the most targeted countries in Europe. This ever-growing risk of attack is putting additional pressure on Cloud teams to ensure their dynamic – and highly lucrative – infrastructure is watertight.

Ransomware in particular is a major cause for concern. Recent attacks have shown just how susceptible critical infrastructures are to targeted campaigns. Just a few examples include Mainzer Stadtwerke AG – supplier of electricity, gas and water – which was impacted by ransomware last year following an attack on their IT service provider. Also, Klinikum Lippe – one of largest municipal hospitals in Germany – detected major cyber breach in November.

The amount of work required to design, build, and maintain the security environment is much greater than on-premises, and unlike the traditional one-way in and out pathway of data centers, the cloud has thousands of possible entries. This recognition has resulted in businesses gravitating towards ‘Secure by Design’ models, which weaves security into the very fabric of all migration and operational activities and services.

So, as we can see, our ‘WIP’ industry is certainly on the ‘progressing’ side, and the changes we’ve already seen implemented are far from being the final result. This year’s DSAG Technology Days will be the next checkpoint for SAP, as the industry takes this opportunity to review, assess and discuss what’s in store in the months and years to come.

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