The Defining Traits of a Next-Generation SAP Service Provider

next-generation SAP service provider

Monolithic systems have gotten a bad reputation over the years: sluggish development cycles, lack of agility, and considerable resource requirements, particularly within a traditional data center. However, the advent of Cloud, particularly hyperscale Cloud, has given these legacy systems the means to reinvent themselves and shed that reputation.

Cloud adoption for these legacy systems presents a myriad of opportunities to potentially revolutionize day-to-day operations – from provisioning to maintenance. Embracing this next generation of SAP running on Cloud with Cloud-native capabilities, promises scalability, swift deployments, integration with modern technologies, innovative solutions, and cost savings through a consumption-based model.

But if your daily SAP operations still rely on manual processes, leading to human errors and scalability limitations, and/or your current Service Provider is not keeping pace with industry automation and innovation, you are likely missing out.

Let us delve into some of the unexpected essentials and potential benefits you might be overlooking.

Increase Efficiency and Elevate Performance by Automating Your Cloud Infrastructure Provisioning

Automating the provision of infrastructure in the Cloud means you can benefit from faster deployment times, improve the consistency across the estate by reducing manual errors and be more agile to forever changing business needs.

You might already be enjoying the inherent advantage of quicker provisioning in the Cloud compared to a traditional data center, however, deploying Cloud infrastructure straight out of the box may still need some additional fine-tuning post-build. By using the latest automation technologies such as Infrastructure as Code, Deployment Templates, and CI/CD pipelines, and making a modest upfront investment, infrastructure can be constructed using code rather than manual methods. It is then deployed on templates tailored to your business needs and provisioned as part of a streamlined deployment process.

Let’s look at an example of how this can benefit you. In a traditional SAP environment, projects typically require careful planning to prevent overlaps, resulting in meticulous scheduling, extended project durations, and delayed realization of business changes. When running SAP on the Cloud, we gain a significant advantage. Here, it is possible to start new project tracks concurrently with business-as-usual (BAU) systems, which is unheard of in traditional data center setups.

In addition, by incorporating automation, infrastructure provisioning can be expedited from days to hours. A new SAP system can be provisioned with production data replicated to the project infrastructure and project developments can always work on the most current data set. Consequently, testing outcomes improve, and the number of issues during implementation decreases.

While added infrastructure costs are inevitable when running more systems in the Cloud, another benefit of a Cloud deployment is that these expenses can be optimized by reducing project conflicts and shortening development and testing timelines. Moreover, scheduling operations solely during working hours minimizes costs, as projects are unlikely to require 24/7 operations.

Upon successful project completion, the project infrastructure can be removed, paving the way for the next development project to begin.

Minimize Downtime and Maximize Uptime by Streamlining Your Patching Process in the Cloud

The recurring downtime necessary to patch SAP systems can feel like an endless cycle, particularly if patching is needed monthly. Patching is a significant cost and is unavoidable to mitigate the risk of a security breach, a concern that weighs heavily on CIOs.

Consider the intricate steps involved in a patching cycle: planning, change approval, preparation, halting SAP operations, handing over to the infrastructure team for operating system patching, transferring to the basis team for SAP or database maintenance, restarting SAP, and conducting validation checks. This process assumes a sizable maintenance window, which may not always be possible, leading to even more maintenance windows.

However, by using the Cloud and automation, imagine if the effort needed to patch systems could be dramatically reduced. Automated provisioning of infrastructure to the target patch levels, followed by a data replication from the existing SAP system to the new one and, when ready, a seamless switch-over for users at cutover, could transform the patching process. In this scenario, production systems stay operational until cutover, minimizing planned downtime to the cutover itself and any required business acceptance testing. This reduction could potentially decrease a typical downtime window from an average of 4 hours to a significantly shorter duration. With such minimized downtime, the frequency of patching could be increased without causing more disruption.

Reducing downtime windows is not the only benefit of patching SAP using this method. Since the infrastructure is rebuilt from scratch during each patch cycle, system security improves. Any dormant ransomware lurking in the system is eradicated once the systems are switched over.

Unlocking Tomorrow’s Insights Today by Monitoring Intelligently

As Solution Manager is set to be deprecated by 2027, the need to select a new monitoring tool for your SAP systems is imminent. Opting for market-leading monitoring tools specialized for SAP not only guarantees the smooth running of your systems but also empowers proactive and predictive capabilities.

Modern monitoring tools come equipped with built-in automation, significantly reducing the manual effort required for day-to-day support. They automate routine SAP tasks, daily checks, monitoring, alerting, and incident resolution, enhancing operational efficiency.

While proactive monitoring is not a novel concept, it is still a crucial function of monitoring tools. By proactively finding issues before they occur, these tools help prevent unnecessary unplanned downtime and ensure system availability.

Furthermore, monitoring tools accumulate vast amounts of data about your SAP systems’ performance. By analyzing this data, you can predict potential issues and performance bottlenecks before their impact is felt. This enables pre-emptive actions to be taken, or automated workflows to kick in seamlessly, often without requiring human intervention.

Effortless Efficiency by Controlling Your Cloud Resources with Stop-and-Start Scheduling

Your non-productive systems are probably operational 24/7, but is that really necessary? Leveraging the capabilities of the Cloud alongside sophisticated scripting, SAP systems can align with your schedule. By automating the start and stop processes of SAP systems, they can be started when needed and stopped at the end of the workday. Additionally, with self-service portals, these schedules can be overridden, allowing systems to be started within minutes.

One of the most significant benefits of this approach is the reduction in Cloud consumption costs, as you only pay for the systems when they are actively needed. Beyond monetary savings, decreasing the uptime of your Cloud virtual machines can also contribute to reducing carbon emissions.

Communicate with SAP by Unlocking AI-Powered Interactions

Did you ever think you could talk to your SAP systems? You probably have done so already out of frustration, but what if SAP could not only respond but respond intelligently?

SAP systems house a vast amount of data, yet contextualizing and deriving meaning from it can be a challenge. By integrating AI into SAP, you can now pose queries like, “Show me annual sales data for the year 2023 by product,” and receive instant results. Blend this sales data with other business data sources to unlock even deeper insights from your SAP data.

Driving Excellence by Elevating Continuous Improvement in the Cloud

All the above sounds great right and probably ticks a lot of boxes, but your Next Generation Service provider should not stop there. They should consistently deliver continuous service improvements and technical innovations, particularly those customized to your SAP environment and business needs. Leveraging SAP in the Cloud provides a significant advantage and running in the Cloud has already evolved significantly. With Cloud providers constantly releasing modern technologies and innovations, you should expect your Next Generation Service provider to ensure you are reaping the benefits of the latest advancements. This not only reduces the reliance on support but also delivers strategic value aligned with your business objectives.

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