1 Taking Control by Letting Go: Optimizing Your SAP Environment via the Cloud An Executive Brief Sponsored by Symmetry Corporation
2 TABLE OF CONTENTS TAKING CONTROL BY LETTING GO: OPTIMIZING YOUR SAP ENVIRONMENT VIA THE CLOUD INTRODUCTION Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software is the workhorse of business. In companies of all sizes, the finance, human resources, and operations departments rely on platforms such as the popular SAP environment to perform a broad range of productivityenhancing functions. But suppose the workhorse demands an increasing amount of time and attention. Increasingly sophisticated software requires greater computing and networking capacity, more time for installation and maintenance, and greater specialization at a time when IT technicians are being asked to wear many hats. For IT departments dealing with stagnant budgets and limited staff, the choices are frustrating. They can continue to devote full resources toward maintaining the SAP system (including software, integration, hardware, and storage), leaving little to explore new business-enhancing technologies. Or they can try to cut corners with SAP maintenance for example, delaying upgrades and minimizing training thus decreasing the utility of the SAP software (and lowering the return on investment), but potentially freeing up resources for more strategic initiatives. Sacrificing your company s technology future, or making do with good enough? No IT leader will willingly accept either of those choices. So how can a business optimize its SAP environment, to maximize value and minimize cost? The answer may come from an unlikely place: the oft-heralded, equally maligned cloud. At this early stage in the cloud era, IT leaders have mixed feelings about cloud services. They are intrigued by the promise of lower costs, flexibility and avoidance of capital investment. As a result, many businesses are turning to hosted cloud services for less critical workloads such as or website hosting. But for critical workloads handling sensitive data, like SAP, many businesses have been reluctant to try out the new business model. They are concerned about security and availability of their critical apps. They anticipate business disruptions during migration. Without a clear sense that the benefits outweigh the risks, they are not willing to cede control of their companies precious intellectual assets. 2 September Stratecast. All Rights Reserved.
3 MAKING THE CLOUD WORK FOR YOUR SAP SYSTEM With SAP solutions growing in sophistication, and IT departments pulled in more directions, it s time to reassess the cloud for your SAP platform. Here are some considerations to guide your decision process: There is no Cloud, but many clouds. In the absence of standards or even common definitions each provider configures its own cloud infrastructure and services according to its own criteria and business goals. Furthermore, the flexibility of cloud offers means that businesses can and do select different clouds for different needs. For a critical SAP application, they can select an SAPoptimized cloud one that doesn t require compromising on performance or availability. An SAP-optimized cloud provides more than hardware. The Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) providers, who popularized the cloud, offer low-cost rental of compute capacity in bare metal servers. Tenants maintain full responsibility for application configuration and maintenance. While that limited model may do just fine for simple, standalone applications, it isn t sufficient to address the needs of most businesses when it comes to managing a sophisticated, integrated platform like SAP. Be sure to turn to providers who take responsibility for delivering your SAP application to users, not just delivering gigabytes of computing power. An SAP-optimized cloud is managed by SAP experts. When you ve invested a lot in your SAP platform in time and money you want to get the most back from it. And that requires expert management. It is difficult for most businesses to maintain the necessary level of expertise on staff; for example, functions such as upgrades that occur every three years will require retraining each time. Look for an SAP cloud provider that has fully trained experts on staff. More important, ensure that your business has access to those experts not just to keep the platform running, but for special projects including assessment, implementation, and training. This will ensure that you are gaining the most value from your SAP installation. An SAP-optimized cloud seamlessly integrates with your data center. Your cloud isn t a silo. SAP touches many different areas of the business, and shares data with other systems and storage. To facilitate migration and ongoing interaction, the cloud infrastructure ideally will mirror (or at least interface with) your data center infrastructure. Look for a cloud provider that uses familiar hardware and operating systems. An SAP-optimized cloud meets your criteria for performance, security, and availability. Many cloud services are largely do-it-yourself, with the onus for configuration and end-to-end metrics placed on the customer. However, the resource-constrained IT department doesn t have resources to look over the shoulder of the cloud provider to ensure data is safe and customers are happy. Ensure that your SAP cloud provider is meeting your needs not requiring you to adjust to their service parameters Stratecast. All Rights Reserved. September
4 SELECTING A SAP CLOUD PROVIDER: WHY SYMMETRY? In researching cloud solutions, it s most important to start with SAP expertise. Symmetry Corporation has managed SAP solutions since long before cloud became an industrystandard word. The company s expert team offers SAP technical consulting, hosting, long and short term managed services and project support, in addition to cloud services. This expertise and a customer-focused approach to consulting and services are at the heart of Symmetry s business model. Symmetry s i IN THE SKY cloud hosting service runs on the IBM i-series platform, a powerful and resilient infrastructure. For many Symmetry customers who use the same IBM platform in their own data centers, it s easy to configure a hybrid cloud environment that utilizes resources in both the private on-site center and the Symmetry hosting center thus providing physical diversity and ensuring a high degree of availability. Symmetry offers cloud hosting for a range of platforms combined with value-added services, including cloud strategy development, migration, SAP administration and disaster recovery services to ensure a smooth migration to the cloud and manage SAP performance on an ongoing basis. Stratecast The Last Word Some businesses shy away from the cloud because they are afraid that it means ceding control over critical applications. But by selecting an SAP cloud such as Symmetry s i IN THE SKY service, companies can achieve the opposite result. With Symmetry s team of dedicated experts hosting SAP on an optimized IBM i-series infrastructure, businesses may find a higher degree of performance and availability than they could achieve in-house with technicians juggling many projects. Furthermore, cost savings that often result from deferred infrastructure expenses enable budget to be redirected toward more strategic investments. Similarly, with fewer staff resources devoted to running the business, IT can take a leadership position focused on initiatives to promote strategic business growth. Thus, only by letting go trusting an expert partner to manage SAP to the highest standards of performance can a resource-constrained IT department gain control over spiraling costs and resources. It s a paradox worth pursuing. Lynda Stadtmueller Program Manager Cloud Services Stratecast (a Division of FROST & SULLIVAN) 4 September Stratecast. All Rights Reserved.
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