3 Challenges of Running SAP in the Cloud

Tyler Constable
Tyler Constable in Cloud September 06, 2019

Many businesses are moving and operating some, even a majority, of their corporate infrastructure in the cloud. According to the analysts at Gartner, “by 2020, a corporate ‘no-cloud’ policy will be as rare as a ‘no-internet’ policy is today.”

Substantial benefits of cloud migration include reduced IT costs, improved service quality, and enhanced system performance. So, it makes sense that corporate encouragement for SAP cloud migration will only continue to grow.

Frequently, companies may not initially realize many cloud computing benefits when they migrate their SAP systems to the cloud. Multiple unexpected and expensive challenges can arise throughout the migration process. Plaguing both enterprise IT operations and managed service providers (MSPs), these challenges can transform a practical and profitable project into a disruptive and daunting endeavor. Here are the three major challenges to watch for.

1. Inconsistent Standards

One hurdle SAP customers need to jump when migrating SAP systems to (and operating them in) the cloud is inconsistent standards.

Using one of the major infrastructure as a service (laaS) providers—AWS, Google Cloud Platform, Azure, and others—offers a wide range of strengths and potential pitfalls as they’re equipped with a variety of capabilities and tools. Inconsistent cloud standards can quickly sow confusion for IT operators or MSPs that manage hybrid and/or multicloud environments.

Usually, SAP migrations to the cloud, at least in their initial stages, are hybrid. These hybrid migrations combine the legacy on-premise systems with those migrated to the cloud. In some cases, multiple cloud providers are involved with the migrated cloud systems. Using a separate tool for each environment (different clouds and on-premise) will naturally produce confusion and inconsistent management and monitoring. This can potentially result in gross inefficiencies, or even worse, failures.

2. Lack of Visibility

Regardless of whether a business is running its SAP systems completely in the cloud or using a hybrid solution, a crippling lack of landscape visibility and insights around SAP system performance can happen for IT operators and MSPs when they rely on the cloud provider's default monitoring tools. These default tools are greatly limited because they only provide performance metrics on the cloud provider’s virtual machines, operating systems, and databases. They offer no visibility into critical SAP system performance metrics, such as work processes, business process, batch jobs, IDocs, PI communication, and so on.

Trying to identify the source of an issue affecting system performance becomes cumbersome when users need to switch between different tools. Insufficient visibility leads to further exasperation when organizations run entire SAP landscapes across multiple cloud providers. The inability to see the complete cross-platform landscape performance increases monitoring complexity and produces an error-prone environment.

With no cross-environment visibility, it becomes practically impossible to do accurate planning and budgeting for cloud and infrastructure resources.

3. Higher Expenses Than Expected Due to Inefficient Scaling

Unexpected costs plague SAP customers when migrating to the cloud. A major factor is that operating costs can balloon when SAP systems are inefficiently manually scaled. A dynamic cloud system efficiently scales either up, down, in, or out to handle the growing or diminishing resources required to meet the system’s business demands.

Properly and automatically scaling SAP systems in the cloud is paramount to minimize operating costs and ensure user satisfaction, due to optimal system functionality. Inefficiently scaling SAP systems hosted on pay-as-you-use cloud environments can skyrocket operation costs, as you’ll be running the system consistently in maximum capacity. While making sure your peak performance needs are covered, you won’t be able to scale down when those resources are unnecessary.

The inability to add an application server to a cloud environment on the fly hinders the flexibility of the SAP system to respond automatically and quickly enough to support high-performance requirements. By the same token, identifying which cloud resources are not needed and dynamically turning them off is essential to achieving low operational cost. For instance, the inability to properly scale down HR functionalities on weekends when their use is usually low will erode the projected cost savings that partially justified the original cloud migration project. Without the capability to automatically scale, the once-envisioned lean and dynamic SAP cloud system can easily transform into a balance sheet albatross.

Both automated cloud scalability and landscapewide visibility are essential to run SAP systems effectively and economically on the cloud.

Interested in learning more about SAP in the cloud? Watch our cloud webcasts on demand or read our ASUG research recap on 10 Things to Know About the Cloud.