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Saturday, June 30, 2018

SAP S/4 HANA – on Cloud

Seeing how quickly enterprises (& individuals) have embraced Cloud, the ERP software giant SAP is adapting itself nimbly and positioning itself as the “The Cloud Company Powered by SAP HANA”. In this context, it is important to understand what different options customers now have with respect to SAP deployment since it impacts investment decisions greatly.

This article will not talk about the Migration (Suite on HANA or to SAP S/4 HANA) to Cloud but will delve more into what are the various options of hosting it on Cloud & what are the salient features.

Public or Private Cloud enabled by TDI (Tailored Datacenter Integration)  -  
This option is akin to On-premise since it allows customers to do all kind of changes (to SAP software) that they have been doing since decades. It involves hosting SAP S/4 HANA on public or private cloud provided by a service provider & which uses SAP-certified OEM’s hardware (like Dell/Cisco/Fijitsu etc.) via TDI.
It enables enterprises moving away from CAPEX (capital expenditure in buying the hardware) to OPEX (Operating expenses – pay per use); offers the scalability of Cloud and reliability of services (OS, DB, backup, security, network & uptime) through agreed SLAs (Service Level Agreements). Sify Technologies is one of the prime vendors in this category.

HANA Cloud Platform (SAP’s Public Cloud- also called as multi-tenant edition)
The biggest change is, software is 100% managed by SAP as the “cloud provider” with updates automatically pushed to the systems on a timeline defined by SAP with tightly controlled configuration and extension frameworks.
·         What it means is, patch upgrades will be happening every quarter. There will be planned/pre-published downtime of 24 hours (every quarter) to incorporate changes (read, upgrade system) into SAP software.
·         There is a shift from three-system landscape (DEV/QA/PROD) to two-system landscape (QA/PROD). Sandbox/demodata/model company code will be provided thru’ the additional component of ‘starter environment’ (also called as ‘starter system’)
·         Transaction codes (fondly called as T-codes by SAP users fraternity) are getting phased out. Fiori Apps will be used extensively instead.
·         IMG (Implementation Guide) / SPRO won’t be there. It is getting replaced by the standard App (‘Configure your solution’ which is SSUI  - Self-service User Interface).
·         Transport Requests (changes done to Config/Dev. Objects) will be moved by SAP team only.
·         Some configuration (called as ‘Expert Configuration’) will be done by SAP team
·         It comes with a complimentary Test automation tool – to be used for testing after Upgrade is done by SAP every quarter
·         It includes SAP Cloud Platform Integration Services (open APIs for integration) for up to 3 SAP managed connections to other SAP Cloud products (like SuccessFactors, Ariba, Hybris, Fieldglass etc.)
·         It includes limited use of SAP Forms as a Service by Adobe. Customer may make up to 120,000 Forms Requests per year.
·         The three A’s of Intelligent Cloud incorporated –
o   Automate – through Machine Learning (to identify hidden patterns in data and act on it). Use cases in stock-in-transit, contract consumption, cash application ( clearing invoices with multiple partial payments received)
o    Assist – using ‘Co-pilot’ (voice-prompted digital assistant equivalent of Siri/Alexa - coming in version 1805)
o   Act – DiBo (Digital Boardroom) showing a ready dashboard with the relevant KPIs

HANA Enterprise Cloud (SAP’s Private Cloud, also called as single-tenant edition) -
Here too, Software is 100% managed by SAP as the “cloud provider” but update schedules are agreed with the customer, some software modifications are allowed but these will increase the fees to run the system (as it is harder to manage). S4HANA will offer this model and Business Suite is offered this way via the HANA Enterprise Cloud for customers that run it on SAP HANA.

Features mentioned above (under Public Cloud) are applicable here as well.

SAP Public Cloud as well as Private Cloud offer pay-per-use policy. It depends on number of users (classified as Self-service users, core users & advanced users) & some other parameters (like X GB of in-memory storage , connectivity speed etc.). 

Besides the standard offering, currently Public Cloud is available in two verticals of Professional Services & Component Manufacturing. It is also ideal for deployment at subsidiaries when the parent organization (large enterprise) is running on-premise SAP.

Going forward, SAP’s focus will be much more on HANA Cloud Platform (public cloud). The new features would be getting introduced first in the HCP edition & then would be rolled out to other versions.

Lastly, for those who are interested to understand the exact difference between public cloud and private cloud -
Public cloud provides computing, storage & networking resources on shared basis (amongst a bunch of customers) where as Private cloud provides computing, storage & networking resources dedicated to a single organization/customer. Scalability, security are addressed in both the options.

Hope this helps you in charting the right Cloud strategy for your organization!

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