Creates long-term upgrade path to S/4 HANA.

Woolworths is the first company in Asia Pacific to avail itself of a program designed to help companies modernise their existing SAP footprints.

The retailer will shift its current ECC 6.0 SAP environment to run on Microsoft Azure, though details of exactly what the project entails are thin.

SAP’s A/NZ president and managing director Damien Bueno said in a statement that “Woolworths has one of the largest SAP environments in the world, which supports business-critical processes, including retail operations and finance.”

“Migrating SAP applications and platforms to Azure, including SAP ERP and SAP Cloud Platform, will enable this great business to innovate faster than ever,” he said.

“In time, this will also support Woolworths’ move to SAP S/4 HANA.”

Woolworths started decommissioning its in-house IT infrastructure a few years ago, setting a clear path to run on Azure.

It also consumes a number of cloud services from Google.

Woolworths CIO John Hunt said Azure is continuing to support the retailer’s “ongoing digital transformation”.

“We are confident it will provide us with the performance and flexibility required to meet our ever evolving SAP requirements in providing an exceptional customer experience,” Hunt said.

The project is taking place under the auspices of Embrace, a modernisation scheme run by SAP and Microsoft that was launched late last year.

Woolworths is said to be the first company in the Asia Pacific Japan region, and one of the first in the world, to avail itself of Embrace.

Embrace is designed to simplify the move “from on-premise editions of SAP ERP to SAP S/4HANA for customers,” the two vendors said last year.

“Industry market bundles will create a road map to the cloud for customers in focused industries, with a singular reference architecture and path to streamline implementation,” they said.

The two vendors also offer combined support for the transition to occur.

It’s not clear when Woolworths might move up to S/4 HANA, but it’s an upgrade on the minds of most SAP users.

Optus, for example, revealed earlier this month it is preparing its own move to S/4 HANA, though again the timeline is unclear.

This article first appeared on iTNews.

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