SAP made a definitive move in the direction of innovation with the launch of SAP S/4HANA in 2015. The SAP S/4HANA architecture is unique, empowering enterprises to meet evolving business demands in an increasingly unpredictable world. It enables seamless integration of data from multiple sources, and its advanced in-memory computing enables organizations to analyze and make decisions in real time. Clearly, moving to SAP S/4HANA provides organizations a competitive edge.
But many enterprises have complex structures with multi-vendor applications and other unique issues that make SAP S/4HANA seem like an unattainable goal. While the SAP S/4HANA conversion and cloud migration is a large undertaking, following a systematic approach can ensure that the nuances of each enterprise are considered to help determine a successful transformation journey.
The Path to SAP S/4 HANA Migration
Every organization’s approach to SAP S/4HANA implementation is different, determined by the size of the SAP S/4HANA landscape and organization-specific factors. While not all enterprises have the appetite for large-scale transformations, there are essentially two approaches to the implementation:
- A greenfield approach involving SAP S/4HANA implementation from scratch. This can be costly and time consuming but enables organizations to restructure for optimal performance.
- A brownfield approach involving SAP S/4 HANA conversion of the existing ECC system. There is some data transformation involved here, with changes to the existing business processes.
An Example of Nuanced Requirements
One large SAP enterprise wanted to finalize its journey onto the SAP S/4HANA platform. Like all companies, it had several challenges to overcome. In this specific case, it needed to migrate its ECC 6 landscapes to the cloud to reduce the cost of SAP systems on-premise. In addition, the company wanted to reduce its datacenter footprint.
An end-to-end analysis considered several aspects: the cost of hosting SAP S/4 HANA on cloud, including any hidden costs, and how to cater to growth of the migrated system. In addition, the analysis focused on closely integrated non-SAP applications, and the transformation requirements related to these. For example, an analysis of how Oracle-native database connections would be handled post-migration.
Other important considerations included the HANA licensing impact on usage of specific features, analysis of the data transfer volumes between SAP and non-SAP (with associated costs), recommendations of migrating some non-SAP systems to cloud, and data transfer costs between on-premise and cloud.
The Unique Journey to SAP S/4HANA
The first decision to make in this example was taking a greenfield versus brownfield approach. Wipro recommended migrating to SAP S/4HANA along with cloud migration using the brownfield approach, due largely to the company’s high number of customized processes in the SAP system, which increased the level of risk.
The next decision was which path to take for the technical migration to SAP S/4. At least two options were considered:
- A one-step process combining migration to SAP S/4HANA along with cloud migration
- A two-step process involving an as-is migration to cloud, followed by SAP S/4HANA conversion
After analyzing the company’s landscape, customizations, business process impact, and infrastructure footprint, Wipro recommended the one-step approach. Although the two-step approach seemed preferable given the large database size, the analysis identified multiple issues that would impact the technical migration.
First, migrating to public cloud as-is requires a stabilization period of one to two years before proceeding with SAP S/4HANA transformation, leading to much higher costs. In addition, testing the large system would drive-up costs; the existing ECC system was 18TB. The required testing efforts would be nearly double that of the combined approach. Another factor against a two-step approach was that the production SAP system would need at least two major downtimes: one for the go-live during as-is migration, and another during the S/4 conversion cutover.
Depth of Understanding is Essential for a Successful SAP S/4HANA Migration
SAP S/4HANA conversion and cloud migrations are large transformational initiatives for any organization. And every organization has unique considerations that must be addressed when mapping a path. For a successful transformation, organizations need to have clearly laid out their business and technical objectives, transformation path, and target platform.
Wipro considers every SAP S/4HANA journey to be unique and does not restrict companies to the standard readiness check analysis, BSR analysis or “quick sizer” results alone. By leveraging a unique “Safe Passage to SAP S/4HANA” conversion framework, along with Wipro’s extensive SAP experience and product knowledge, companies can establish a reliable conversion to SAP S/4HANA regardless of migration approach or their unique business nuances.