MythBusters: Why Customer Obsession Is Key for Successful SAP Migrations to the Cloud

by Axel Streichardt, Head of Worldwide Business Development, SAP on AWS, Amazon Web Services

Axel AWS

Axel Streichardt came to Amazon Web Services (AWS) as Head of Worldwide Business Development for SAP on AWS in May 2020. Prior to AWS, Axel had 20+ years of experience in developing customer solutions for Global 2000 customers to run SAP applications on premises or in the cloud. In his current role at AWS, Axel works backward from customers’ goals to drive new levels of efficiency by running their SAP applications on AWS.

In my more than 20 years of experience working with SAP customers around the world, I have realized that enterprises are constantly on a journey, often seeking reliability, agility, and security, all while trying to control and lower the cost of running their SAP landscapes. Customers in various industries are also seeking to achieve business value where technology is the enabler. Of course, many customers are looking at the cloud as a deployment option; in fact, many customers already have a cloud-first strategy, but are hesitating when it comes to their most mission-critical application, SAP. I’ve heard several reasons for this hesitation to migrate SAP workloads to the cloud: uncontrolled costs to migrate and run SAP systems, inflexible service-level agreements (SLAs), an increase in downtime, and security issues.

This article dispels the myths behind these misconceptions about moving to the cloud, and it illuminates for SAP customers the many benefits they can gain by bringing their SAP systems to a hyperscale environment such as Amazon Web Services (AWS).

A Long History of Helping SAP Customers

As a famous CEO once said: “There is no compression algorithm for experience.” This is especially true for SAP customers. AWS has a proven track record of helping SAP customers manage their complex data landscapes. In fact, SAP has been an AWS customer since 2008 and has been certified and supported since 2011. Today, more than 5,000 SAP customers trust AWS as the platform of choice. One such customer example is Moderna, a pharmaceutical company also developing vaccines. Moderna migrated its SAP environment to AWS to help rapidly uncover new insights to get potentially life-saving treatments into production faster. Additionally, a recent IDG survey shows that SAP customers using AWS experience business benefits such as enhanced innovation, faster time-to-market, and improved customer relationships — with 43% of SAP customers on AWS for more than two years reporting improved organizational efficiency.

In 2020, AWS was named a leader in cloud infrastructure and platform services for the 10th consecutive year, and it has been lauded for years as a leading SAP service provider for the SAP HANA platform and cloud infrastructure. Why is that? The secret is the most important AWS leadership principle: customer obsession. We work backward from the customer and consider their requirements and requests, and the real needs and strategies for their SAP journeys. To do that, of course, we first need to dive deep to truly understand what our customers are telling us about their challenges and pain points before suggesting solutions. AWS aspires to become a trusted advisor to customers by thoroughly assessing their current SAP landscapes and analyzing their cloud readiness. We provide tools and services to mobilize customers and migrate them to the cloud. But the journey does not end once they are reliably running mission-critical SAP workloads in the cloud. Customers seek to expand and integrate SAP systems to gain better insight into their data and to drive business value. I believe there is no better place than AWS to integrate SAP systems with technology, such as data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), or Internet of Things (IoT), because AWS has mastered using these technologies for a successful customer experience. In the end, it is the customer’s choice and decision on how fast and where the SAP journey goes. We work with them to ensure it will be a successful journey and prepare for any unforeseeable circumstances along the way.

Providing Agility in Tough, Unpredictable Times

We live in very unpredictable times, and the last 12 months have shown that businesses have to react quickly to unforeseen events or external forces. SAP customers have to not only be flexible, but also innovate new services rapidly. For example, with business models and business processes changing frequently over the last year,  organizations had to find new ways to connect with their customers, with extremely tight budgets. This leads to more innovation and automation. AWS, for instance, helps enable these changes by fully automating administrative tasks, such as SAP copy, clone, and refresh, to free up an organization’s resources — that is, time, people, and budget. In my conversations at the recent virtual AWS re:Invent event, customers told me that they could reduce the resources necessary to manage their SAP systems by 30%–40% using AWS tools and services. Other customers, such as The Kellogg Company, could save over $900K and run dozens of marketing simulations a day.

Another area for consideration is the flexibility needed to gain a competitive advantage and to handle increased demand seamlessly. For example, Netflix and Peloton both saw a dramatic increase in business as demand for their products skyrocketed over the past year, and they had to immediately spin up more resources without downtime. Running on AWS helped these companies to capitalize on the business opportunity presented to them, because more compute, storage, and network resources could be automatically increased.

Unpredictable times also have an impact on the path customers take during their SAP journeys. The majority are still running SAP ERP knowing that SAP extended the deadline to migrate to SAP S/4HANA to 2027 (with optional extended maintenance through 2030). I’ve talked with large customers that stepped on the brakes with their SAP S/4HANA migration plans to focus on modernizing their current environments, migrating to AWS with increased automation, data insight, and a more holistic view on business outcomes and predictive analytics. For example, the Volkswagen Group (VWCO) is one of the largest truck and bus manufacturers in South America to decide to deploy a new ERP system, choosing SAP S/4HANA — hosted by AWS. VWCO recognized a reduction in costs and increased agility, with the ability to perform production server upgrades in only 20 minutes.

Many customers have a cloud-first, or even cloud-only strategy, to reduce costs and complexity and gain agility; but migrating SAP systems is another caliber. It is mission critical and even minutes of downtime can translate to a loss of millions in revenue or a hit on trust in the brand. Earning trust is another of AWS’ leadership principles, which is why we work with customers on building this trust. I have seen that customers’ cloud adoption journeys very often start small, with low-risk, low-cost workloads migrated first. Many customers start with SAP archiving projects, or backup and recovery, and gradually move to high availability (HA)/disaster recovery (DR) workloads, followed by test/development environments to ultimately migrate their entire SAP production landscapes onto AWS, using AWS best practices to deploy, optimize, and modernize. I recently spoke with a large software/hardware company that shared its SAP migration journey and needed advice on improving its current SAP HANA backup and restore strategy. I suggested using AWS Backint Agent for SAP HANA, an SAP-certified backup and restore solution for SAP HANA workloads running on Amazon EC2 instances. It backs up the SAP HANA database to Amazon S3 and restores it using SAP management tools, such as SAP HANA cockpit, SAP HANA studio, or SQL commands. I shared that AWS Backint Agent supports full, incremental, differential, and log backup of SAP HANA database and catalogs to Amazon S3. As a result, the customer shared that the business could increase backup/restore performance by a factor of 10x.

It is all about choice and options, and we help customers throughout their SAP migration and cloud migration journey. As I said, we’re customer obsessed.

Addressing the Current Challenges for SAP Customers

SAP customers are currently dealing with several challenges — namely cost, availability or avoiding downtime, performance, security, and integration — that AWS can help address.


One common topic in my customer interactions is the cost of running SAP systems:

  • Infrastructure costs: Customers are looking to optimize their data center compute, storage, and network resources, but often lack full cost control over their entire infrastructure. In the on-premises world, companies have to size and build infrastructures for SAP systems to accommodate peak times. These resources are idling and unused over 90% of the time, and are difficult to assign to other workloads. With AWS, they can scale up and down — and only pay for what they use, such as Hoya, who could reduce its capital expenditures for infrastructure by 80% to 90% over three years. Other infrastructure costs are associated with spinning up and down test systems or sandboxes. It takes days or weeks and is rather costly to set up systems for a “quick” test. Our customer Lockheed Martin gained agility to spin test systems up or down as needed in hours rather than days, therefore seeing reduced operational cost. We also saw at BP a 33% reduction in cost for SAP systems while increasing performance by 40%.
  • Migration costs: Due to complexity and duration, migration costs often exceed operational expenses. SAP migration projects can take months to years to complete, and as customers start to consider their SAP migrations from SAP ERP to SAP HANA or SAP S/4HANA, they want to understand the advantages of first migrating their SAP systems to AWS. They want to know if a cloud infrastructure can help cut migration costs and/or the time required to execute the migration. AWS’ SAP ProServe team has successfully helped many customers with their migrations. In addition, the AWS partner network is a group of global system integrator (GSI) ISV partners that can help drive innovation-led business transformation, mitigate migration costs, and create efficiencies for customers. Our new independent software vendor (ISV) partner path can help expedite customers’ engagements with AWS, and the AWS competency program identifies, validates, and promotes partners with demonstrated AWS technical expertise and proven customer success. For example, our customer Dole accelerated the time to develop and deploy from 10 months to 10 weeks and went from eight resources to two, reducing its migration costs by 5% due to a reduction in its ABAP code.

Sometimes it is not the direct cost associated with software or hardware, but more the cost of avoidance. As described previously, just a few minutes of downtime can have a costly effect, which is why customers are demanding HA and DR solutions to protect their SAP landscapes from downtime. AWS offers 99.99% uptime for compute resources (EC2) and 99.999% of uptime for storage (EBS – io2). What is more relevant is the annual normalized uptime report, published by all hyperscalers. Looking at that data then, AWS is the most reliable cloud to run your SAP workloads. An example of this is Louisiana Pacific, who achieved a 20% application performance improvement, 24×7 availability, and improved disaster recovery using the CloudEndure Disaster Recovery suite and SAP HANA system replication capabilities.


While no service providers disclose the exact location of their data centers around the world, for obvious security reasons, location certainly matters to customers when it comes to ensuring availability. They want to know their data is stored in a secure, protected, and safe way and is highly available in case a disaster strikes. AWS has 24 active geographic regions — a region is a physical location in the world where we have multiple availability zones (AZs) — with 77 AZs (which consist of one or more discrete data centers, each with redundant power, networking, and connectivity, housed in separate facilities; applications and data are replicated in real time and consistent in the different AZs) and multiple AZs in every region. Customers such as Whirlpool or Philips 66 are leveraging AWS AZs for HA and DR solutions.


AWS is designed to ensure that customers receive the performance they require. As SAP HANA is a low-latency application, we provide performance-based instances and can seamlessly scale up these customers from very small (256GB) to very large — all the way to 24TB in scale-up, and up to 48TB in scale-out, running on AWS’ innovative Nitro system. It is providing 100% performance of high memory instances, including dedicated hardware accelerators that offer and manage direct connectivity to Amazon VPC and Amazon EBS. In addition, AWS has different ways of helping customers with any data latency/residency and compliance issues that are caused by customer location, especially with deployments at the edge or in countries with low latency network connections. To overcome these issues, we offer AWS Outposts, which is a managed service that is deployed on premises in your data center and looks just like an AWS appliance in the cloud. Customers use this appliance to capture any data with low latency requirements before sending it to the next AWS data center. When it comes to performance, our customer Liberty Mutual uses AWS services, along with SAP S/4HANA, for real-time financial closing. Another customer, Heineken, shared during the AWS re:Invent keynote that it estimates its 42TB system on AWS is half the cost of the 6TB system it used to be on premises.


System security is another area of top concern for customers. Security is “job zero” at AWS. SAP on AWS provides security not only by preventing system break-ins, but also by supporting and applying some of the tightest security standards in the world to organizations and governmental agencies. Through our security principles and practices, we help keep our customers’ data centers safe and secure from cyberattacks and data breaches. With over 265 security features, dedicated network connectivity between AWS data center and availability zones, plus the highest standards on end-to-end encryption technology, AWS keeps customers’ data safe. AWS is also collaborating with SAP National Security Services (SAP NS2) to help public sector customers run the most mission-critical and sensitive SAP HANA workloads on AWS. The US Navy and SAP NS2 migrated their largest SAP ERP system — 72,000 users spread across six US Navy commands — to AWS. The milestone — which came 10 months ahead of schedule — will put the movement and documentation of some $70 billion worth of parts and goods into one accessible space, so the information can be shared, analyzed, and protected more uniformly.


SAP customers are constantly innovating and expanding their SAP landscapes and integrating with non-SAP systems. They are demanding integration solutions, not building blocks to incorporate all the data and systems into their SAP landscapes. The ability to build predictive analytics data lakes that combine SAP and non-SAP data requires a seamless connection and integration of those systems. Customers such as Zalando built a data lake solution with SAP and non-SAP systems using AWS Glue and AWS Lambda to consolidate all the information in Amazon S3, using Amazon Redshift for end-user analysis. The end result — the ability to track performance in near real time and the reduction of the cost of obtaining business insight by 30%. Pharmaceutical company Bristol Myers Squibb was challenged to increase speed for its drug testing and deployed SAP AWS data lakes with AWS Lambda, AWS Glue, Amazon Athena, Amazon Redshift, and Amazon SageMaker. This has helped the company to quickly deploy new data points without having to consider infrastructure, scalability, or availability, but instead concentrate on building business logic. Running SAP on AWS resulted in a 92% time reduction in running simulations. During the recent AWS re:Invent event, AWS announced the availability of AppFlow for SAP software in Q1 2021, which will stream data seamlessly from SAP systems and SAP HANA to Amazon S3, simplifying the process of building an analytics data lake.

Help Beyond the Transition to SAP S/4HANA

No crystal ball is required here. We all can see in the coming years that customers will be transitioning from SAP ERP to SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA or directly to SAP S/4HANA, but as I said, the SAP journey does not end there. As I described before, customers will continue to innovate by expanding their SAP solutions into new areas such as AI, ML, IoT, and building data lakes for better insight to make more accurate, fact-based decisions. Many of these customers are on the cloud migration path already, but even if  your company decided to stay on premises with its SAP landscape, these services are also available to you to start your data integration and build an intelligent SAP enterprise, using SAP’s term. Again, we want to give customers a choice and always work backward to provide solutions to achieve their goals. I often hear in my customer conversations, “I did not know that,” or “I thought that AWS was more expensive,” etc., which is why I shared some customer conversations (and use cases) to clarify some of the misperceptions and provide more detailed information to help you make an informed decision about your SAP cloud migration journey to AWS.

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Host Your SAP Systems in a Fast-Performing, Highly Available, Nondisruptive, Managed Environment

As SAP Customers Are Compelled to Move to SAP S/4HANA, the Managed Services division of NTT Ltd. Offers a Customer-Centric, Outcome-Based Approach to Outsourcing

by Lauren Bonneau, Senior Editor, SAPinsider

For companies running SAP software, SAP’s announcement that it is extending the end-of-mainstream-maintenance deadline from 2025 to 2027 means that organizations now have another two years to decide if and when to migrate to SAP S/4HANA. This extension also affects the maintenance plans for the latest releases of SAP ERP, SAP Customer Relationship Management, SAP Supply Chain Management, SAP Supplier Relationship Management, and SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA applications. While the extra time might help some C-level executives breathe a little easier, it doesn’t change the fact that a choice will need to be made. Companies still need to decide whether to build an upgrade plan into their roadmap, whether to delay plans a little longer to wait for other use cases to develop, and whether to review options for third-party support.

One SAP partner that provisions managed cloud services, IT operations, and applications hosting to help organizations accomplish their business goals is the Managed Services division of NTT Ltd.. With more than 1,000 employees distributed between a headquarters in Southfield, Michigan, and an operations hub in Hyderabad, India, the Managed Services division of NTT Ltd. has managed more than 200 SAP customers and thousands of SAP instances for global organizations in all industries since its founding in 2001. After being acquired by the Managed Services division of NTT Ltd. in April 2018, the Managed Services division of NTT Ltd. acquired Symmetry (in October 2019), which expanded the scale of SAP managed services capabilities and offerings it could provide its clients. It currently offers these managed services capabilities, which include the ControlPanelGRC software suite, on the Pure Storage storage platform.

Conversations about SAP S/4HANA migrations have been constant among SAP shops over the last several years, according to Len Landale, Senior Vice President of ERP Applications at the Managed Services division of NTT Ltd.. “SAP’s decision to extend the deadline has given some customers a reprieve, but I don’t believe it fundamentally changed the course that a customer was already on,” he says. He describes seeing customers in a few camps:

  • Those that are committed to SAP software, see the value in going to the newest version, and have a plan in place
  • Those that are taking the wait-and-see approach where they have invested in SAP software, plan to maintain their current environment and see how things play out, and will only move if there is an incentive, such as new functionality that is required to run their business
  • Those that are using the migration opportunistically depending on their business catalysts, such as mergers and acquisitions, where SAP shops are cutting their teeth on net-new installs of SAP S/4HANA for new business units or sets of plants before moving over the rest of the business

What the Managed Services division of NTT Ltd. is seeing in the market, according to Landale, is that many customers are in the second camp, where they feel all their business functionality needs are currently met, and they haven’t been incentivized yet to invest in moving to SAP S/4HANA. “There hasn’t been a huge wave of adoption yet, and the move to extend the support deadline probably further reduced the curve a bit,” he says. “From an SAP supportability perspective, customers will take their time to get there and will begin to approach adopting SAP S/4HANA in those three scenarios in different ways. It’s not a one-size-fits-all situation.”

Whatever the case may be, if customers want to stick with SAP software, they must eventually make the move. The project can be a major one to undertake, and there is much debate about whether it’s a migration, an upgrade, or a reimplementation. Regardless of how someone wants to refer to it, the project will require a significant commitment in terms of time and expense. And when companies do decide to invest in the move, they often simultaneously decide to change their providers or platforms.

“We definitely see that transition to SAP S/4HANA being a compelling event, where SAP customers are looking at more outsourcing as an option, whether that is a public or private cloud,” says Sean Donaldson, Chief Technology Officer at the Managed Services division of NTT Ltd.. “And we see a mix of both private cloud, on-premise type workloads happening as well as public cloud.”

Why SAP Customers Are Looking for Secure Hosted Environments

The Managed Services division of NTT Ltd. provides managed services around patching, security, and governance of high-performance environments; offers a scalable platform that is application-agnostic; and provides further application-management services in several areas. While the Managed Services division of NTT Ltd hosts a variety of applications, databases, and middleware, from an applications and services practice, SAP hosting is the Managed Services division of NTT Ltd.’s largest practice.

“Our clients find the application breadth of services incredibly important because, even for those companies that solely run SAP systems, we see many of them with strategies that involve acquiring or merging with organizations that run other non-SAP applications,” says Donaldson. “The ability to manage those systems as they go through that life cycle of integrating those applications into their SAP central instance brings a lot of value to our clients and a better capability to serve the various needs they have.”

What differentiates the Managed Services division of NTT Ltd. from others in the industry is its specialized focus on running mission-critical applications with a high degree of attention to security, compliance, and governance. “Everything that we design and deploy is built with a certain degree of security with audit, compliance, and controls integrated into the platform,” says Donaldson. “And we’ve seen the mentality around patching very aggressively change to follow more of the traditional corporate guidance around monthly patching or even more aggressively, depending on when vulnerabilities happen. There’s an awareness — and balancing between the business and security requirements — where organizations are starting to take security a lot more seriously.”

Over the past few years, Landale has seen security becoming much more important to SAP customers. For example, request for proposals (RFPs) that previously had just a couple checkboxes about security, or maybe a half page of security questions at most, now have over 10 pages devoted to language about security and governance. “A lot of clients looking for a provider are extensively incorporating those types of requirements into their evaluation now,” he says. “Three years ago, it wouldn’t have been much of a conversation. They would have asked about some firewalls and maybe checked the box on encryption. But that was then.”

The security landscape is constantly evolving, and finding a provider that can keep up with emerging threats is critical, especially in the SAP space, according to Landale. “When clients entrust us to run their ERP systems, they inherently get a lot of components of security and elements of a secure environment incorporated automatically, and we’ve found that has mitigated a lot of risk for them,” he says. “We are seeing piqued interest beyond hardening infrastructure to extend security to ensuring environments are protected against risk that exists in the business.

In response, we have a product for SAP environments, ControlPanelGRC, which automates audit and compliance remediation for clients. And we put a strong focus on collaborative security postures with each client’s security teams, having shared visibility so we are all looking at the same pane of glass.”

The Managed Services division of NTT Ltd. offerings are built around a mindset of an outcome-based approach, and engagements with SAP clients from very early on have been sold based on application-based service-level agreements (SLAs), according to Donaldson. “Server-based and network-based SLAs are great, but at the end of the day, it’s ultimately about the end-user experience, the business experience, and the outcomes we can drive with that particular solution,” he says. “We’ve always taken that client-centric approach as well as an outcome-based approach to the services we provide. On the back end, the types of offerings we provide clients are built around the concept of truly holistic and complete solutions. When clients procure an environment from the Managed Services division of NTT Ltd., everything — from disaster recovery to backups, change control, governance, all the various security components, availability, and performance — is baked in our solution from day one.”

In addition, the Managed Services division of NTT Ltd. built a model for its applications practice that extended to its infrastructure and support teams around the technical landscape ownership and engagement with the client. “We try to be an extension of our clients’ teams,” says Landale. “We want to bring scale to the table, but also match that white-glove service, and striking a balance between those is critical both for our clients and our employees.”

A key factor in creating mutually successful engagements for the Managed Services division of NTT Ltd. clients was the decision to utilize the Pure Storage platform.

The Advantages of Flash-Based Storage

When clients choose the Managed Services division of NTT Ltd. to host their SAP environment, they are automatically receiving the advantages of flash storage out of the gate due to Pure Storage’s flash-based storage for data centers — which uses consumer-grade solid-state drives that are much faster than traditional disk storage  — running on a FlashStack converged infrastructure from Pure and Cisco. In addition to developing its own flash storage hardware, Pure develops proprietary de-duplication and compression software to improve the amount of data that can be stored on each drive. Pure’s FlashArray enables organizations to start small and grow as needed with high-performance, scalable data storage.

Similar to others in its industry, the Managed Services division of NTT Ltd. had used various storage vendors through the years and had very big and expensive enterprise-class storage frames made up of lots of spinning hard drives, according to Donaldson. “About five years ago, we evaluated different vendors in this emerging trend of flash storage, and we ended up choosing Pure,” he says. “After implementing Pure in a few pilot scenarios, we observed what we consider the largest meaningful impact on how a business operates that we’ve ever seen from an infrastructure component.”

Pure has three primary products that all use an operating system (OS) called “Purity”:

  • FlashArray//C — an all-flash, capacity-optimized, non-volatile memory express (NVMe) storage array that delivers consistent performance, hyper-consolidation, and simplified management for Tier 2 applications at hybrid economics
  • FlashArray//X — a third-generation, all-flash, NVMe storage solution that delivers a modern data experience for Tier 0 and Tier 1 workloads
  • FlashBlade — a solution for consolidating complex data silos of unstructured data to optimize infrastructures

Upon successful results from the pilot implementations, the Managed Services division of NTT Ltd. spent the next four to five years going through the process of truly standardizing on Pure, according to Donaldson, and hasn’t looked back. “Pure has simplified our life and got us to a place where we can focus more on our clients’ business and applications,” he says. “The conversations around underlying problems that historically came up with clients running large ERP applications — such as concerns around their platform, storage, or long-running applications and reports — are effectively no longer an issue, and it’s truly made a meaningful impact on both our clients and our ability to operationally manage those clients.”

Landale says that the ease of use of the software platform and the Purity OS is one of the big differentiators for Pure. “We are running SAP S/4HANA for clients both on our private cloud, supported by the Pure platform, as well as clients in a public cloud,” he says. “From a security perspective, one aspect that is great about Pure is that the encryption is already done for us automatically in the storage array, so there’s value that comes out of the box for organizations looking to leverage this technology in their architecture.”

With other storage vendors, capabilities such as enabling encryption and de-duplication are possible, but are complex undertakings and usually incur a performance penalty, according to Donaldson. “Pure is always encrypted, always de-duped, and there’s no performance penalty — and it’s still as fast or faster than everything else out in the market,” he says. “We continue to see that other all-flash or all-NVMe storage platforms today, in our opinion, just aren’t at the same caliber.”

The Managed Services division of NTT Ltd. has many years of experience building environments and running SAP software on them, leveraging technology and incorporating solutions, and ensuring seamless disaster recovery. “Clients looking for a platform to run SAP software on get the advantages of our experience and our platform out of the gate,” says Landale. “We know precisely what is running on top of the platform and manage that capacity at the holistic level, and so, as a result, eliminate any worry about the performance of an environment.”

How a Pure Environment Helps SAP Customers Run Better

Generally, SAP systems — particularly business warehouse and analytics systems — are strongly linked to performance and the ultimate end-user experience. While any custom code introduced to the system can cause performance problems, any changes made to the infrastructure or platform traditionally had no noticeable or drastic effects on performance for business users. However, after moving to Pure, users remarked that systems performed much faster, according to Donaldson. “When we started rolling out Pure’s capabilities, the impact on how the system operated was night and day,” he says. “One client had a material requirements planning (MRP) report that ran in six hours and was now down to 33 minutes, and we heard stories of clients opening tickets because they didn’t think the report finished correctly because it finished so fast.”

While improved performance is certainly a strong benefit to SAP clients, Landale says that the Pure technology also helped change the way the engineering staff works. Previously, engineers spent a lot of time and effort chasing problems. For example, an intermittent issue in an SAP system, such as an application-level error that overwhelmed a traditional storage frame, might have required involving seven different people — including database, OS, storage, and network resources in addition to SAP experts. Today those problems happen a lot less frequently. “A number of those types of bottlenecks, resource constraints, and client-caused problems have gone away,” he says. “That has freed up our resources to focus on our core business of running and managing servers for clients and running their applications. Our clients can then focus on actual business problems and adding value. It flows all the way up the chain that we have removed all of that spinning disk from our environment over the first two or three years of using Pure.”

Freeing up resources also manifested in how all the members of the Managed Services division of NTT Ltd.’s storage team were redirected to other areas of the business. “Most organizations historically had a specific storage team, and storage arrays were such big and complex pieces of technology that it almost required a PhD in the individual technology to run it,” says Donaldson. “From an operational efficiency perspective, Pure is such a simple and reliable platform to deploy and manage, and the technology is so easy to use, that it has eliminated our need for a traditional storage team. We just opened those needs and capabilities and that management support into our traditional cloud virtualization team.”

From both a client support and operational efficiency perspective, traditionally, an organization would buy a storage array, maintain that asset for five years or so, buy a new storage array, and then perform a big migration to move from the old storage array to the new one, according to Donaldson. “That’s a pain and causes impact when a client wants to grow or expand,” he says. “What Pure has allowed us to do — on a number of occasions, as we’ve upgraded from our oldest array five years ago to the very newest array — is upgrade the software and hardware in place, non-disruptively, without affecting any client performance or availability.”

As always, the bottom line is important to organizations, and cost savings is a significant benefit of Pure. With always-on data replication and easy scalability — especially from an SAP HANA memory perspective — by using Pure, the Managed Services division of NTT Ltd. simplifies SAP data management for clients, which makes it less expensive for them and drives a better return on investment.

All Storage Is Not Equal

According to Donaldson, the performance that Pure delivers is incredibly fast and low-latency, and the software that runs the storage platform is a real differentiator. “You can’t just go on Amazon and buy an SSD drive, and it’s the same,” he says. “It’s a lot of different components — reliable performance, ease of operations, and high availability — that make up a more holistic and comprehensive solution that gives that differentiated value. Pure has helped us grow our business over the last five years and driven a tremendous amount of success with clients.”

The Managed Services division of NTT Ltd. maintains a strong executive relationship with Pure and looks to continue to grow that relationship and stay in lockstep together to deliver new SAP performance and availability capabilities. “We are continuing to work with Pure on better and more efficient ways to manage SAP systems or even a large number of systems in general — to do everything from improving QA refresh automation processes to implementing newer and even faster storage platforms to continuing to enhance the experience for our clients.”

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Are You Ready for the Cloud?

Platform vs. Best of Breed: A Renewed Look at Which Approach to Choose

The cloud is changing. It’s no longer about turning off an on-premise data center so that an application can be implemented in a different environment. It’s about bringing the opportunity to change a landscape. It’s about changing how to structure an IT landscape strategically.

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