In our previous blog on the subject of SAP on Public Cloud ( https://www.wipro.com/blogs/sreedhara-padmanabhuni/can-sap-applications-be-hosted-on-public-cloud-presenting-the-short-and-long-answers/), we discussed the key considerations for migrating SAP applications to a public cloud. The topic for this blog is the next most obvious question that you would expect from customers: “Which Public Cloud is the best for hosting my SAP applications?”
This would have been an easier question to answer 5 years ago. This is because there was only one Public Cloud offering available for SAP application hosting. The market has evolved a lot since then and now there are several public cloud options available for SAP customers. This is in addition to numerous private cloud options. Though there are many private cloud options, a large number of customers prefer to go down the public cloud route. We will discuss the reasons for this choice in the next blog.
It is a common belief that public cloud is cheaper than an on-premise setup and customers opt for the cheapest public cloud. Contrary to this belief, Public Cloud is not always cheaper and not every public cloud is suitable for every SAP customer. Cloud fitment is very customer-specific and these are the top 5 factors among various factors that influence this decision. Surprisingly, Cost factor is not the first priority.
SAP runs mission-critical workloads and the data stored in SAP could be highly confidential. The available Public Cloud provides or certifies security products that secure SAP instances against malicious attacks and implements encryption of data at rest, encryption of data in transit to ensure secure end-to-end communication per the Organization policies and compliance standards adopted. Some of the other compliance requirements include data center location, certifications obtained by the Cloud Providers etc. The local governments mandate a few organizations to keep their data in the same country where these organizations operate in. The number and types of certifications the Cloud providers obtained from the authorities concerned is another pre-requisite to meet.
Customers can afford as little downtime as possible for their SAP applications due to the criticality of the applications. This is typically measured by RPO (Recovery Point Objective) and RTO (Recovery Time Objective) and these parameters define the target architecture when it comes to HA (High Availability) & DR (Disaster Recovery). The ability of native Public Cloud to handle hardware issues within the same zone of the infrastructure on cloud like VM, compute, memory, disk at the hypervisor level and offer High Availability up to 99.9999+ are the choice today. We have seen customers asking for Near Zero RPO and as low as 15 minutes of RTO across zones within the same region. The Public cloud that meets these criteria will be the first choice for customers before they start analyzing the other parameters.
Until a month ago (as of 3-Feb-2020), many customers were planning to migrate their SAP applications to public along with HANA database migration. This is due to SAP’s 2025 deadline for HANA migrations. However, SAP has now extended the same until 2030. Customers now have 5 more years before they migrate to HANA hence a lot of customers may choose to perform a homogeneous migration (as-is or a lift-and-shift from platform perspective) and plan for HANA migration/conversion at a later point in time. SAP did not certify all OS/DB combinations for all public clouds to run SAP applications. For example, majority of the SAP customers are running their SAP applications on Oracle database and SAP has not certified Oracle for all public clouds. This is just an example and customers running on other OS/DB will look for a similar certification as well. The other aspect is about HANA itself. The current certifications of HANA from range of VMs, size of VMs, future roadmap are other sets of deciding factors for the customers that are already running on HANA or planning to migrate to HANA.
4. Infrastructure & Native Services
Public Cloud Provider’s infrastructure capabilities and native services available is the next factor that influence the decision. These affect either the cloud suitability for the future requirements of the target architecture designed or the ease of operations post implementation/migration or the overall cost of ownership. For example, it took almost 4 years after Suite on HANA was introduced for any public cloud provider to come up with a 4 TB HANA VM and another 3 years to scale this up to 6-12 TB. Customers also will have to look at the other features and native services like Cloud VMs whether or not 100% virtualized, Scale-up/Scale-out options, Storage or disc types, Cloud Storage options for backup, Cloud native backup or snapshot solutions, their future roadmap for meeting larger HANA VM requirements, ease of handling Disaster Recovery situations and the mechanism itself etc.
5. TCO (Total Cost of Ownership)
Once the customer is satisfied with the technical/compliance requirements, then comes the final decision making factor, i.e. TCO. The Total Cost of Ownership is calculated taking into account several items. These items include both 1. Costs viz., Foundation costs, License costs, Network cost, Security costs, HA/DR costs, Backup/Restore costs, Data Transfer costs (ingress / egress), One Time Migration costs etc. and 2. Concessions viz., Hardware buy-back, Cloud Investment Funds, Partner Discounts, Consumption Commits etc. A few of these items will be the same irrespective of the CSP chosen but a majority of others differs.