Cloud Technology

How to Choose a Managed Hosting Partner for SAP [Blog Article]

Moving mission-critical SAP systems to the cloud is a daunting task. Here’s how to find a managed hosting partner who will minimize your risks and smooth your transition.

SAP is the backbone of many businesses.

In fact, 87 percent of Forbes Global 2000 companies are SAP customers.

A number of enterprises have expanded their SAP environments in the past year. With the increased investment, they want better ways to manage their systems.

For many IT teams, this means moving SAP to the cloud. The cloud offers new levels of agility and allows enterprises to deploy services quickly and cost effectively.

Since enterprises rely on SAP applications to run their business, they can’t afford to take risks with cloud migration. Business risks need to be managed and mitigated at every step of a cloud migration for successful deployments.

Unplanned downtime would create undesired consequences, which may impact a company’s bottom line.

Why Cloud DIY Doesn’t Work

SAP technology is evolving rapidly.

SAP is investing heavily in next-generation technologies such as digital transformation, machine learning and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Over the past few years, SAP has made significant investments in the cloud as a means to push new functionality and features to its customers. For example, SAP has aggressively expanded into the cloud by enhancing its current solutions to be “cloud enabled.”

It has also built “cloud native” products or acquired companies whose products are fully cloud-deployed. In addition, SAP has made its flagship products including S/4HANA and the SAP Cloud Platform fully functional in the cloud.

Over the years, SAP has acquired cloud-only solutions, including Ariba, Hybris, Concur, Fieldglass, and SuccessFactors.

Keeping up with latest SAP technologies and advancements could become a daunting task for in-house IT departments, especially when they are focused on supporting their existing technologies and applications.

When IT teams are bogged down with routine maintenance, they will not have the time to innovate or address business requests. Then, leadership can get frustrated with their inability to respond quickly. This results in bad public relations (PR) for internal IT team.

Another problem with maintaining SAP environments in-house is that it overwhelms IT professionals with mundane tasks. Since IT skills are in short supply, employees can move to other opportunities if they don’t think their company is putting their expertise to good use.

The Key to Continuous Innovation

To drive innovation and revenue, internal IT teams must embrace their company’s vision and enable technologies that fuel growth.

When they do this, the business will view IT as a partner who is working with it, rather than an order taker who works for it.

In short, today’s enterprises want IT to take the lead on digital transformation.

To shift their focus to digital transformation, internal IT teams should rely on a trusted partner to manage their SAP applications. This allows IT professionals to spend more time implementing and enabling new technologies, as opposed to increasing their management burden every time they add a new system to their environment.

5 Questions to Help You Find the Right Managed SAP Hosting Partner

SAP cloud is still in its early stages and is evolving rapidly.

A trusted partner can guide companies through cloud migrations and help them navigate changes with SAP.

Here are five questions that will help enterprises select the right managed hosting partner, so they can minimize risks when moving SAP systems to the cloud:

1. Can they support SAP?

Many hosting providers boast of managing complex and business-critical SAP solutions for their customers, but in reality their underlying structure is not built on best practices and solid architectural principles. This leads to frequent disruption and poor service levels.

For example, some hosting providers may not run infrastructure that SAP supports for its workloads. But this infrastructure is crucial when running SAP HANA database environments where hardware compatibility is stringent. Public cloud providers are self-service and may not host SAP workloads according to required service level agreements (SLAs).

Before choosing a managed hosting partner, find out what architecture they used to build their solution and where they deliver it from.

  • Is their architecture highly available?
  • Does it offer disaster recovery?
  • Does it provide enough memory for critical SAP systems to function?

Also, find out what service level agreements (SLAs) the managed hosting provider offers.

Can they guarantee availability, performance, security, and compliance?

SLAs are one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a managed hosting provider.

2. Is their hardware certified for SAP?

Enterprises use SAP systems for their core business processes, which makes infrastructure reliability critical. SAP has placed paramount importance on hardware certification and created clear guidelines for running its hardware in-house or in a partner data center.

Enterprises that don’t use SAP-certified hardware can put themselves at risk. For example, if SAP technicians learn that a customer is using an unsupported platform, they can refuse support. This forces customers to resolve issues themselves – which puts a strain on their internal resources. SAP systems can also experience performance issues if problems aren’t resolved quickly.

Avoid these risks by working with a managed cloud provider that uses SAP-certified hardware. Also, ask how frequently they refresh the hardware and if their platform is elastic.

3. What support do they offer?

This mission-critical nature of SAP means that companies can’t wait hours – or days – for technical support.

It’s essential that a managed cloud provider will respond to requests quickly.

Ask about the provider’s SLA for incident response times. Many companies forget to inquire about this SLA when they choose a managed hosting provider. However, it’s crucial to understand this SLA before an incident occurs. Agreeing upon an incident response SLA will prevent misunderstandings and problems down the road.

It’s also vital for the provider’s support team to have in-depth knowledge of SAP. How close is their relationship with SAP? Does the managed cloud provider have Platinum SAP teams that will address issues?

4. Can they ensure availability?

Since SAP is the backbone of many businesses, its availability isn’t optional.

Here are some questions that will help companies determine whether a managed hosting provider can meet their backup and availability needs:

  • How does the provider test for availability and disaster recovery?
  • Can they replicate data within seconds of its creation, if needed?
  • What SLAs do they offer to ensure availability?
  • Do they have experience supporting enterprise business continuity?
  • Do they have on-demand disaster recovery testing capabilities?
  • How often do they perform backups? For example, do they perform a full backup daily or weekly?
  • Do they offer differential or incremental backups?
  • Where do they store the backups?

5. Can they quickly and easily scale SAP environments?

One of the cloud’s top benefits is that it allows enterprises to quickly scale their environments, so they can keep pace with the speed of business.

A managed hosting provider should make it easy to increase capacity, as well as add and remove servers and storage. Enterprises should also look for a partner who isn’t locked into one hardware vendor so that they can use their preferred technology.

Providers should also scale their teams to meet demand. If a managed hosting provider doesn’t have a large enough team, internal IT staff will need to take on more work as their SAP environment expands – which defeats the purpose of managed hosting. Managed hosting providers must offer flexible teams, along with someone to oversee each environment. That way, enterprises only need to communicate with one point of contact.

The 3 Keys to a Successful Partnership

A managed hosting partner should provide the right combination of people, technology, and architecture. When these three items work together, enterprises can lower their total cost of ownership without sacrificing efficiencies and security.

Ultimately, a partner should take care of SAP, so internal IT teams can focus on innovation.

Are you thinking about upgrading your SAP systems? Check out our webinar on how to successfully migrate to S/4 HANA.

You can also contact us today to discover how we can help you move your SAP environment to the cloud.

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