Faster to More Flexibility with a Hybrid Cloud Approach – a Use Case
(6 min read)
How can we expand our innovation opportunities by deploying SAP on Cloud rapidly and efficiently in a planned and secure manner? A long-standing customer turned to NTT DATA Business Solutions with these questions – and received a holistic hybrid cloud approach tailored to the large enterprise, currently in the implementation phase. Here are a few interesting insights into the project, highlighting tools and services used.
For almost 10 years, NTT DATA Business Solutions has been the chosen partner of a leading international group of companies with more than 200,000 employees in the heavy industry for energy and natural resources. In its digital transformation, the global player is intensifying the networking of IT systems and production facilities to increase efficiency and flexibility of its operations. This lays the foundation for further business innovation: everywhere in the organization, there are ambitious industry 4.0 projects for smart manufacturing.
In order to achieve an agile and modern IT landscape as a basis for current and future digitalization, it has long been a vision to adapt and optimize SAP workloads in the cloud. As changes to the organizational structure are pending anyway, the company uses this opportunity to move on- premises workloads into hybrid clouds. As part of the restructuring, employees get used to a new work organization – so the workforce is included to support required adjustments to gain efficiencies, with more contribution for higher business value. The customer’s management confirms that connecting the transition to the cloud directly to the restructuring makes sense in order to ensure employees’ support with a clear road to success from the beginning of the journey.
“Plan”: A Clear Roadmap on the Way to the Cloud
Every cloud project with NTT DATA Business Solutions begins with a planning phase in which we determine the specific needs and analyze the necessary requirements in detail. The jointly defined goals form the basis for the strategic “roadmap” to the cloud. In this case, the group’s primary goal for the hybrid cloud migration is a transition phase as short as possible. Aligned with our customer’s departments, we move workloads to the cloud within the shortest planned downtime to ensure essential business functions. From a technical perspective, this is as quickly, as easily and as plannable as possible.
Since the use case we consider here is a long-standing managed services customer, there is already a basic set of systems hosted in our data centers at various locations for years. With the customer disinvesting in own data center infrastructure, we orchestrate his business-critical IT seamlessly in our proven hosting and add flexible resources and innovative functions in the public cloud. As part of the joint strategy development, a hybrid approach has quickly emerged in which we integrate cloud management with secure access to the various environments.
In order to set priorities for the migration, we always identify the “bottlenecks” at the very beginning of the project and solve these most important and urgent problems for the customer directly in the implementation phase. In this case, this can happen very quickly thanks to the existing cooperation and the correspondingly deep knowledge of the enterprise and its processes. After a detailed analysis, it has turned out that we can transfer most workloads directly and optimize and customize them later without any problems. Although we are taking a different approach with this customer for good reason, we would like to mention the “Lift & Shift” approach at this point. This option is usually our first choice to migrate less business-critical workloads such as sandbox or development systems most conveniently. In this way, we can achieve the first goals in next to no time before the further cloud journey starts from there.
“Move”: Cloud Services and Tools for Every Phase
A particular challenge is always that migration projects should not disturb business operation. For example, a typical requirement is: Please migrate these 40 systems by April 1. In the case of this project, we frequently migrate 20 to 40 systems over the weekend – that requires a profound preparation and technical masterpiece. With our expertise and services, we always ensure the usual operation as required depending on the individual data processing and availability profile of defined business processes.
In the case of a global, grown group of companies like the one discussed here, one of the greatest challenges during migration is the existing network structure. A complex landscape on the customer side leads to a multitude of interfaces and dependencies that we must safely preserve during the migration. Our proven tools and procedures allow us to carry out the transformation process to the cloud sufficiently quickly and at the same time neatly integrated into the existing ecosystem with all its monitoring functions, backups, network connections and much more.
In concrete terms: we create a common environment with the customer to provide the relevant services – the so-called ‘SAP on Cloud Management Platform’ – which makes the location of the systems irrelevant. Among other things, this also offers the possibility of working in a DevOps environment: the particularly close interlinking of software development and IT operations enables significantly more effective and efficient cooperation between the various teams, with us automating as many technical actions as possible.
Another major challenge in the case of this customer is to ensure minimal downtimes for productive systems while at the same time having immense database sizes, which here often amount to several terabytes. We solve this task based on our experience with a wide variety of landscapes and industry-specific scenarios. We have already proven numerous times that we can migrate business-critical databases with minimal risk. New customers gain confidence with our ‘proof-of-concept package’ at a fixed price. One selected system conversion then takes place within 10 to 12 weeks, so that decision-makers get a practical example and not just theoretical statements of the quality and speed of our approach and the specific advantages of SAP on Cloud.
During the initial roadmap project, we have decided together with the customer that a factory approach makes sense for moving the large number of SAP applications to the cloud. The NTT DATA Business Solutions Conversion Factories are units specialized in SAP S/4HANA and certified by SAP. In the case of this customer, we use our Conversion Factory in South East Asia together with local consultants for a global service of a professional team ensuring the customer’s operation 24/7. Local consultants and transition specialists coordinate the international collaboration so that the customer is in dialogue with full control together with his trusted service contacts.
“Manage”: Efficient Operation and Maintenance of the Hybrid Cloud Structure
As quickly and easily as we can move to the public cloud with the means described, the management and orchestration of a hybrid cloud environment can still be challenging – especially in such a large organization as in this use case. Here you are well advised to run SAP on cloud platforms with a partner who is both, a cloud solution provider and a managed service provider with core competencies in business processes, database, and application management.
With access to both partner networks, SAP and Microsoft, and with up-to-date knowledge of the numerous, constantly growing tools of public cloud providers for connecting to the SAP world, a competent partner provides focused cloud services, well managed and monitored for continuous operation. Thus, managed cloud services customers do not require own expertise or mediate between different suppliers. Individual training courses in using cloud services and tailor-made support for integration or migration to the cloud complete the trusted advisors’ tasks.
NTT DATA Business Solutions is such a partner offering well-defined concepts for any size of business with individual needs thanks to an appropriately scalable service. This we do with flexible cloud platform values (such as load balancers and databases), pay-as-you-go models for handling peak loads, almost no hardware limits (up to 24 TB RAM), and a worldwide distributed infrastructure. Together with the high value of our strategic partnerships, this lays the foundation for reliably agile business services to organizations and their customers.
Why NTT DATA Business Solutions in this Use Case?
In this case, the answer to the question of choosing a partner is primarily “trust”. The enterprise has been using our hosting services as a strategic SAP cloud partner since 2014 and has been able to convince itself many times of the professionalism of the services and the smooth running of the processes. When selecting a suitable partner for moving the SAP landscape to the public cloud, it quickly became clear that, with our experience and our sophisticated toolset, we are able to implement the requirements reliably and on time.
With our ‘SAP on Cloud Management Platform’ we support our customers in gaining innovative strength, added value and cost-efficiency. They can maintain the stability of day-to-day business while the IT landscape gains in agility at the same time.
How to Move to SAP S/4HANA on Microsoft Azure in the Most Efficient Way
The conversion from your existing ERP system to the next-generation business suite is particularly fast and easy if you try out the procedures and functionalities in an initial 10-to-12-week project based on your original data to get your Proof of Concept (PoC).