How to Make an Optimal Transition to the Cloud

By Steele Arbeeny, Chief Technology Officer, SNP

As companies move ahead with essential digital transformation strategies, moving to the cloud is a high priority for many chief technology officers (CIO). Organizations want out of the traditional data center, with its high costs and lack of flexibility. But more importantly, they also want to reap the rewards of moving to the cloud, whether it’s a private cloud, public hyperscale provider like Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, or a hybrid setup. Hosting critical business applications in the cloud provides the scalability, agility, security, and compliance assurance that enterprises need to thrive in today’s digital landscape.

With so many enterprises transitioning to the cloud, it begs the question – how are these organizations handling their complex cloud migrations? Whether you’re moving to a private, public or hybrid cloud, it’s a challenging task to migrate existing systems with a long operational history, even for IT experts.

But the sooner enterprises face these challenges and make the transition, the sooner they can benefit from the advantages of their chosen cloud solution, drive their own digital change forward, and secure competitive advantages. So, what does it take to transition effectively?

Moving to a cloud mindset

Most corporate infrastructure managers come from the on-premise world, and they tend to continue to think in that manner when moving to the cloud. When we procure infrastructure for an on-prem environment, we typically need to purchase to cover three or five years of planned use and account for future growth that may or may not materialize. This leads to many on-prem landscapes being oversized and underutilized, because we certainly can’t order infrastructure and then ask for new systems a year later. Budget requests would never be approved.

The cloud changes all of this. The agility and capacity on demand offered by the cloud allows us to right-size and increase or decrease as needed – even on an hourly basis – to optimize our spend. Even with the uncertainty and slowdown brought by the current COVID-19 crisis, organizations in the cloud can downsize and reap savings, and then increase when needed. We will need to invest a lot of time to make sure our applications and equipment are cloud compatible…but first we should ensure that we are.

Don’t lift and shift

Moving multi-system, heterogeneous and oversized on-prem landscapes to the cloud could cost more than on-prem in many cases. The only way to realize the savings of the cloud is to increase server utilization and density by retiring old systems and combining others. A multi-ERP landscape should be consolidated as part of a cloud move. It will allow you to reduce the footprint you will consume in the cloud and simplify your operations later.

Minimizing downtime is key

There are lots of factors and steps involved in transitioning to the cloud, from choosing a cloud provider, to migrating data and applications, to training employees on new processes. But one of the most important success factors is how long the transition will take – particularly, how extensive the downtime will be on the day you actually migrate systems.

The SAP applications and databases that you will need to migrate are mission critical. Employees rely on ERP systems for critical functions like tracking inventory levels, risk management and compliance, and maintaining production schedules. Those systems demand around-the-clock availability.

The challenge is that traditional upgrades and migrations often require prolonged downtime. This is incredibly risky. Even an extra hour or two of downtime has the potential to dramatically reduce an organization’s productivity, which negatively impacts the bottom line. As a result, it’s essential that organizations minimize downtime as much as possible during transformation projects like transitioning to the cloud.

Combining cloud migration with other transformation processes

With that in mind, how can organizations minimize overall transformation downtime when they’re migrating to a private, public, or hybrid cloud? Including other transformation processes in your cloud migration is one strategy that many organizations have successfully employed. Enterprises can modernize their landscape and migrate in one step, including anything from database upgrades to SAP S/4HANA migrations and more.

When organizations collapse multiple transformation projects into only one testing phase, one test environment, and a single go-live, they can reduce project timelines dramatically. And as an added benefit, this approach helps organizations save significantly on their total SAP transformation project costs.

Accelerating the process through automation

Automating transformation actions also helps minimize downtime. Organizations that incorporate automation into their migration projects gain numerous benefits, including faster time to value, lower risk of errors, superior compliance capabilities through audit trails, and a more predictable outcome overall. Here’s how automation helped one company speed up a lengthy migration project, enabling low-risk, rapid migration.

A few years back, the Kellogg Company found that it was devoting significant time and resources to updating and replacing obsolete hardware, and they realized that those resources would be better spent on developing innovative initiatives to help them gain a competitive edge in the marketplace. As a result, they decided to modernize their IT infrastructure and move their global SAP landscape into the cloud to minimize disruption from future upgrades. After choosing the AWS Cloud to host their landscape, Kellogg’s was initially told that data migration wouldn’t be possible within their desired timeframe. But, with the help of an automation-driven transformation partner, Kellogg’s was able to simultaneously upgrade and migrate several SAP components, as well as migrate data to the cloud. Better yet, the migration was completed with under four hours of downtime.

Investing in automation enables organizations to minimize downtime, regardless of which hyperscale cloud provider they’re migrating to, since automation securely accelerates tasks that would otherwise be performed manually. By working with trusted transformation partners throughout the cloud migration project, enterprises can make sure that they’re limiting risks and limiting disruption to business-critical processes. On top of that, trusted partners also provide reassurance throughout the project life cycle, guiding and overseeing the process from planning to final implementation.

Moving to the cloud is a key step in enterprise digital transformation strategy, whether you’re shifting software, storage space, or computing power to a private, public, or hybrid cloud. In order to limit disruption to the business, it’s important for enterprises to do everything they can to minimize downtime during the migration. By combining multiple transformation projects into one go-live and using automation to speed up processes, enterprises can ensure the success of their cloud migration, setting them up for future innovation in the cloud. To learn more, join me on Wednesday, June 10, 2pm, ET for my webinar, Automate Your SAP Move to the Cloud with SNP and Google Cloud, hosted by SAPinsider.