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Roberto Mircoli
Roberto Mircoli 22 February 2018

Six Questions to Ask Your Cloud Service Provider Before Moving SAP to the Cloud

Moving mission-critical applications, such as SAP, to the cloud can provide a great return in terms of user satisfaction and fiscal management. However, this does require careful consideration, when choosing the Cloud Service Provider (CSP). Before you take the plunge keep in mind these six basic questions that you should be asking yourself.

Moving mission-critical applications, such as SAP, to the cloud can provide a great return in terms of user satisfaction and fiscal management. However, this does require careful consideration, when choosing the Cloud Service Provider (CSP). Before you take the plunge, here are six basic questions that you should ask yourself:

How do you assure performance?

Many CSPs will not or cannot provide service-level agreements (SLAs) around performance. Companies looking to move their mission-critical SAP workloads to the cloud must have confidence that the systems will perform off-premises as well, if not better, than they do on-premises. It can be tough for CSPs to provide performance guarantees if they have multiple tenants sharing the same compute and storage infrastructure. Understanding how the CSP will manage potential noisy neighbour issues is an important component to consider when choosing a provider.

What is the billing methodology?

Flexibility in billing is one of the areas where a cloud deployment is advantageous. CSPs that bill similar to the old managed hosting model are not offering all the benefits of the cloud. Some clouds charge based on the resources allocated, but offer the option to shut down systems when not in use to limit costs. A small number of providers take this a step further and offer true consumption-based billing, similar to how the power company bills for kilowatts. It is possible to sign a long-term commitment, but still take advantage of consumption billing. Signing on for a multi-year contract has benefits in helping to negotiate a better price and providing stability in the financial planning model, but paying on an OPEX model is a key differentiator for cloud based deployments.

Where are your data centres located?

The end-user experience should always play a role in the decision making. It is critical that the perceived performance does not decrease when moving systems to the cloud. Latency is a concern whenever moving systems off-premises. Some applications are highly resilient to latency, but others require multiple round trips during communication sessions. Having data centres in advantageous locations is important when choosing where to host cloud workloads. It is also important to work with a provider that has experience with running SAP systems in the cloud and can make architecture recommendations based on experience.

When can you start a migration?

An SAP migration is a complex and time-consuming process. Working with a CSP that has the expertise and experience of migrating SAP workloads to the cloud will give confidence to customers on choosing one CSP over another. Working with a provider who knows the right questions to ask regarding areas such as scope, risks, downtime thresholds and interfaces will ensure a thorough planning session and enable a greater chance of success.

Who are your customers?

It is important for CSPs to provide a list of reference customers that include enterprises of similar scope, size, and motivations. Knowing that Global 2000 companies run their production S/4HANA systems in the CSP’s environment can be reassuring for prospective customers. Sharing a cloud with enterprise customers with common concerns regarding security, compliance, and performance is important for enterprises putting their systems of record in the cloud.

Why are you different than others in the space?

Knowing what, if anything, separates one CSP from another is important because this will help you to understand what additional value can be gained by moving to the cloud. Spinning up VMs or allocating more storage on demand are table stakes for most cloud service providers. Others specialise in the SAP world and have purpose built clouds to ensure that HANA runs as expected and SAP has the uptime and performance assurances required for the spinal fluid type applications. Additionally, a small number of CSPs focus on innovation in the SAP world.

As more organisations move their enterprise and mission critical applications to the cloud, they need to feel confident that they are selecting the right partner.  Partnering with a vendor with a proven track record is essential and hopefully the key points outlined above will help you to make the right decision.

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