Best of Both Worlds: Why Azure Provides the Perfect Home for Advanced SAP Systems

Microsoft and SAP’s strategic partnership will see the two tech giants working hand-in-hand, ensuring that Microsoft’s Azure platform provides the perfect environment for SAP HANA, and simplifying the process of Cloud migration for enterprises around the world.

For local firms looking to move their ERP systems to the public Cloud, there is much anticipation over the launch of Microsoft’s local Azure datacentre (slated to begin operations later this year).

With Azure available locally, it’s the perfect time to move away from expensive and outdated on-premises configurations. Some of SA’s largest enterprises are spending north of R20 million a year, just to maintain their on-premise SAP systems.

Aside from the operational costs, the benefits of modernising and migrating SAP into a new Azure environment are compelling. It provides faster access to information, richer data sets, streamlined operations, and new insights that power everything from enhanced customer relationships, to new products or services, to entirely new business strategies.

Local is lekker

It’s an exciting time for mid-size and large enterprises in the local market. Those who have existing enterprise agreements with SAP and with Microsoft are able to truly maximise the value of these relationships.

Public Cloud ecosystem now has greater certainty than ever before – considering the Microsoft/SAP alliance, the launch of a local Azure presence, and T-Systems’ commitment to drive SAP migration programmes on the Azure platform.

As major global technology players, we all understand our role in the ecosystem with absolute clarity, as we combine the depth of our resources and expertise to create incredible solutions for organisations that are hungry to digitise and transform.

By taking advantage of Azure, enterprises can ‘size’ their ERP requirements for the minimum expected needs, and flexibly scale out the resources as and when they need them (as opposed to the on-premises world where one would have to pay for the peak amount of capacity they may need, even if that wasn’t used for the majority of the time).

By moving to Azure, enterprises automatically access the very latest advancements to the platform. As technology advances at exponential rates, this gives one the ability to quickly infuse the likes of artificial intelligence, cognitive computing, Internet of Things applications, and other exciting technologies.

Instant access to every enhancement

It’s certainly an enticing prospect to have ‘always-on’ access to the latest wave of new SAP enhancements, never again having to suffer through the pain of massive infrastructure upgrades. It allows firms to more quickly realise the business benefits of new enhancements.

But for some firms, there are still nagging concerns that migrating one’s ERP system to the Cloud could pose risks or fail to deliver business value. However, there are a number of ways to design a Cloud migration roadmap – depending on the organisation’s unique characteristics.

Clients with very large systems often move to a private off-premises environment first. This for potential bugs and issues that they have to be eliminated, and deal with many of the integration requirements.

It’s a first layer of modernisation, so they can at least start accessing services outside of their own premises.

From there, the task is to understand which ERP workloads can be shifted into the public Cloud (Azure) environment, to drive down costs and create new efficiencies. Ultimately, most organisations settle on hybrid models that incorporate some private Cloud, and some public Cloud environments.

The harmony of Azure and SAP HANA means that employees become more productive and empowered – made possible by integrating the SAP user experience with Microsoft’s ‘as-a-service’ solutions like Office 365, Cortana, and Microsoft Power BI.

Daily workflow tasks and interactions will become far simpler and more intuitive, as the integrations between Microsoft’s services and SAP’s user interfaces continue to develop, and as the two powerhouses co-create the evolution of their product sets.

With a long history and established relationships with both SAP and Microsoft, we’re excited to provide these solutions to the local market. The time for migrating one’s SAP ERP solutions to the Cloud is now, as everything falls into place, and as the local Azure datacentre opens its doors.