A cloud for S/4HANA, but which one? | All for One Poland

A cloud for S/4HANA, but which one?

SNP Cloud Platform, SAP Cloud, AWS, Azure, or…?

The decision to convert SAP systems to S/4HANA entails the need to make another decision – namely, how to maintain systems in the future? Is it better to adapt your own IT infrastructure to the needs of S/4HANA, or to decide on outsourcing? From which provider? Will the public or private cloud be better?

A large selection of cloud solutions available on the market may cause the customer’s confusion and difficulties in choosing the best offer for them. We have AWS (Amazon Web Services), Microsoft Azure and Google. We have an SAP Cloud offering. Finally, we have offers such as SNP Cloud Platform, which provide much more than just technical availability of the system. How to find the optimal solution?

Public clouds

Public cloud services in the IaaS model (Infrastructure as a Service) differ in the scope of responsibility of individual providers. Usually, however, their offer includes the software platform necessary to create complete virtual environments (virtual data centers) where you can run:

  • virtual servers on which SAP S4/HANA solutions can be installed and maintained,
  • various network components that ensure a total logical isolation of the company’s virtual data center from environments of other companies, while providing connectivity to the corporate network or via the Internet,
  • hardware components, such as dedicated physical hosts (hypervisors), to ensure additional separation at the server virtualization level,
  • storage services for storing databases and backups of entire systems,
  • other services that open up new opportunities to effectively create disaster recovery center environments.

Public cloud vs. SAP user needs

How to translate a wide range of cloud services into the needs of companies using SAP systems? As a rule, their basic expectation is that the systems will operate reliably and efficiently on a daily basis. This requires continuous monitoring of the capacity and reliability of the IT infrastructure to prevent or respond to failures before anyone notices a problem with its operation.

Do public cloud providers deliver such services? The majority of public operators only enable their technical performance. And the types of tools that will be used by companies and the extent to which they will be used are up to such companies. Therefore, to make use of such services, you must have the necessary skills and knowledge on how to adapt a virtual architecture to SAP requirements, to implement and maintain it.

Even the best provider is not able to give a 100% guarantee of continuous operation of systems. And given the critical role that SAP systems play in the business continuity of an organization, surely every company wants to have a guarantee that in the event of a serious failure, the systems will be restored to operation within a specified time frame and to a specific point in time in accordance with the requirements specified by parameters – RTO (Recovery Time Objective) and RPO (Recovery Point Objective), respectively.

Therefore, you need a lot of knowledge and necessary tools to set up backup solutions, to develop backup and disaster recovery plans and procedures, and to make sure they are successfully proven in test scenarios. The multitude of challenges makes it necessary to employ specialists from many fields, which will generate additional costs, while responsibility for risks still remains with the organization.

And what about the SAP cloud?

SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud (SAP HEC) is a private cloud in a service model called “platform as a service”, abbreviated as PaaS.  This solution is characterized by the fact that the customer does not have access to the management of the entire subordinate SAP infrastructure, including operating systems, database, backups, etc. Most of the software components are managed by SAP.

The detailed scope of responsibility is specified in a contract that defines the scopes of services provided for a monthly fee and available for an additional fee. The scope that is not covered by the monthly fee for SAP can be provided by other teams (the customer’s administrators or providers), but it does not assume the customer’s access to, for example, the operating system and database layer. Each change at such a level requires preparation of a service request to be sent to SAP.

However, a standard contract with SAP contains the following tasks that still need to be performed by the customer:

  • sizing of the infrastructure for SAP systems,
  • setting up the monitoring of SAP systems in SAP Solution Manager,
  • system performance analysis,
  • recommendations of SAP system parameter changes depending on business needs,
  • implementation of application notes,
  • analysis of SAP errors that occur during system operation.

This means that the customer must provide administrative support for systems in the SAP HEC cloud. This can be achieved in many ways: buying additional services from SAP, building the customer’s own competence team or commissioning an outsourcing company to do it.

SNP support always needed

This is where SNP comes to help, offering a number of services supporting the use of cloud technologies for SAP systems, both in private and public clouds, delivered by SNP, SAP and other providers.

Project services include:

  • Consulting on the selection of technology and providers,
  • Developing an architecture,
  • Support for SAP migration from on premise to cloud environment,
  • High-availability implementations,
  • Development and upgrade of SAP cloud environment.

SNP offer for SAP maintenance support:

  • SAP administration or support of SAP administration,
  • SAP environment monitoring,
  • Disaster recovery center,
  • Application management (SAP user support).

Or maybe a private cloud?

SNP Cloud Platform is a comprehensive service ensuring the availability and security of SAP systems using cloud technology, including administration and other services.

The infrastructure is built exactly on the resources that are expected and supported by SAP, especially for S/4HANA systems or more broadly – systems based on the SAP HANA database. In SNP Cloud Platform, systems are maintained in the Tailored Datacenter Infrastructure variant. The backup system is integrated with the SAP HANA databases, and the backups themselves are maintained on dedicated data carriers. Backups of production systems are maintained in at least two copies, on two separate carriers, in two locations making up the twin infrastructure of SNP Data Centers. The SAP system can be restored to any indicated point in time up to 14 days back.

SNP Cloud Platform is not only a technical layer necessary to maintain systems, but also a team of experienced SAP consultants and administrators who administer systems and who are indispensable for ensuring the availability, performance and security of SAP systems at the system level.

SNP Cloud Platform also means a different method of service pricing than the one used by other providers. The pricing is based on the number of SAP users in the production system and the total amount of disk space used by servers dedicated to SAP systems. What counts for the customer is full availability of the system, and not the resources used to achieve it.

How to choose?

When we plan to migrate the system to S/4HANA, it is worth considering which model we want to further maintain our SAP systems in. When making this decision, it is worthwhile to consult an experienced partner, all the more so as the solutions available on the market differ from each other. Thanks to a well-performed analysis of individual solutions, we will avoid unplanned costs and possible system downtime while using the new version of the SAP system. The choice of the right solution is best supported by tests; therefore, it is worth thinking about it as early as at the very beginning of S/4HANA migration or even before the start of the project.

Test the S/4HANA right now in the SNP cloud

SAP S/4HANA Fully-Activated Appliance is a proposal for those who want to test the latest SAP system. SNP provides the infrastructure to install this test package, as well as the necessary support in configuring the environment.

The package includes the S/4HANA system with pre-configured SAP Best Practices and demo scenarios, made available to SAP customers for testing purposes for 30 days. The package includes a preconfigured HANA database as well as Adobe Document Services. Best Practices Software Appliance is delivered in the form of a compressed system that can be quickly launched on a properly prepared infrastructure. This solution provides us with a configured platform, ideally suited for building test or demonstration systems.

Once installed, we get access to four clients on which SAP Best Practices for SAP S/4HANA solutions are implemented.  The system also contains ready-made transactional data and configuration of the Fiori application. This makes it possible to apply this solution almost immediately for test or demonstration purposes. For business users, SAP has prepared ready-made examples enabling them to familiarize themselves with and check out scenarios in various areas of the company.

As far as the installation is concerned, we have several options. The easiest of them is to use SNP support. SNP Poland provides the service of installation and configuration of the SAP S/4HANA Fully-Activated Appliance package in SNP Cloud Platform, a private cloud, along with the maintenance of the installation. Alternatively, if necessary, SNP also provides support in preparing installations in public clouds (e.g.  Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform).

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