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The Road to SAP HANA in the Cloud: Best Practices for CIOs

By Matt Clemente, SVP-Cloud Cover Services, Virtustream

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Matt Clemente, SVP-Cloud Cover Services, Virtustream

SAP has come a long way with its SAP HANA offering, touting the ability to significantly improve enterprise operations via more effective business operations, improved efficiency, and previously unachievable speed via the “in-memory” database technology. To put this in perspective, consider that two years ago, SAP HANA was really only relevant and popular for business reporting usage.

“More and more organizations are looking to deploy SAP HANA in the cloud for its scalability and ease-of-use as they transition to cloud deployments”

 Over the past 24 months, it has become main stream for use across nearly any industry vertical, and widely adopted by any companies running the core SAP Suite, as well as Business Objects, HANA Live, and HADOOP integration as businesses strive to understand and profit from the real time processing, and real time large quantities of business data running through their systems. More and more organizations are looking to deploy SAP HANA in the cloud for its scalability and ease-of-use as they transition to cloud deployments. To do so effectively, though, CIOs must consider several factors to ensure a seamless migration path and truly capitalize on and expedite the tangible business benefits that SAP HANA can deliver.

While organizations from across the board are increasing their investment and roadmap into the cloud for its simplicity, flexibility and cost savings potential, the migration process can be anything but simple. Deploying and running SAP HANA in the cloud is particularly complex. It requires a strong understanding of the deployment process and should involve a partner that has experience with standing up SAP HANA POC’s. The provider must also have deep SAP HANA experience and understand the challenges and potential project “showstoppers/gotchas” that may arise throughout the installation or migration process. A team with a solid background around proper tuning and who follows OS, DB, SAP (and where applicable) Virtualization best practices, businesses can achieve a 20 to 40 percent gain in performance from their SAP HANA deployments.

Questions CIOs Must Ask To Maximize and Prepare for a SAP HANA Deployments

Before even going down the road of an SAP HANA migration, it’s important to understand the solution’s full capabilities and roadmap the technologies capabilities with the specific needs and priorities of the business. When correctly aligned, the SAP HANA technology enables near real-time reporting and data delivery at a scale never before achievable. This was very evident during a recent Go-Live when end users claimed report functions were not working when in reality they were so used to the 2-5 minute processing time that when the data was delivered in milliseconds they just assumed there program or query was not working properly!

Creating a thorough blueprint of your business model gives you visibility into your organization’s needs, and should be the first step in any HANA deployment. You can analyze how hard month-ends and year-ends are, see where your business is being hit the hardest, and pinpoint how SAP HANA’s intelligence and analytics can be used to improve your efficiency. For example, a global food manufacturer struggled to integrate disparate sources of data running across its high number of on-premises business intelligence platforms. By mapping out these various data sources and deploying SAP HANA in the cloud, they gained granular, real-time visibility into their sales data, allowing them to address problem areas and boost sales.

Other challenges organizations typically face when looking at migrating to SAP HANA or implementing HANA is finding a simplified migration path. SAP provides some starting tools and best practices “cookbooks”, but there is no standardization and optimization when it comes to deploying HANA in the cloud. Furthermore, any third party software must be reviewed for compatibility with HANA for a successful deployment. The key to overcoming these challenges comes down to working with a service provider that has true HANA enterprise implementation, migration, and ongoing management experience. The investment will pay itself in dividends, as it will expedite the implementation timeline, mitigate the potential risks to your projects success, and enable the best use of the robust SAP HANA “in memory” technology.

After implementation, the SAP journey isn’t quite over - and IT must be on tap to monitor and maintain the solution. This is commonly overlooked, and takes a partner or service provider with proven Enterprise management experience in maintaining SAP HANA including: dealing with revision upgrades, SAP HANA DB refreshes, and understanding of the various methods in which SAP HANA High availability can be used to minimize downtime to give a few examples.

Once SAP HANA is in place, the ability to obtain business level results in actual real time is invaluable, and the return on the investment is demonstrated almost immediately. Typically businesses on average will see operations such as Month-end processing, Year-end processing, and Payroll run 45-75 percent faster, and average core reporting, transactions, and batch jobs can potentially run 35- 1000 percent faster. The enablement of real time date and live visibility into data drastically changes the business, and ena¬bles business leaders to make intelligent, data-driven decisions.

While the migration journey to SAP HANA can seem complicated, with the right business process alignment, and an established and experienced Cloud implementation partner (thus also eliminating the CapEx cost), a significant ROI can be realized almost immediately upon going live. As an example, Global Fortune 500 organizations have migrated to SAP “Powered by HANA” running on Virtustream’s xStream cloud platform and have realized improvements in their productivity right off the bat.

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