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      SAP on premise to AWS cloud migration: The complete guide

      SAP on premise to AWS cloud migration

      SAP on premise to AWS cloud migration is a key focus area for many businesses. This is no surprise given that SAP is without a doubt among the leading ERPs. SAP HANA, available both on premise and in the cloud, offers a powerful relational database ideal for data storage, retrieval and analytics in real-time. 

      The on premise iteration of SAP HANA features an SAP environment hosted on your servers. For those looking to cut costs, the SAP HANA cloud edition replaces expensive internally housed hardware for a pay-per-use setup.

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      If you’re thinking of making a switch from an on premise SAP environment to the cloud, Amazon’s AWS cloud service may be an option to consider for reasons like cost savings and increased productivity. 


      What’s inside

      This guide examines why and how to go about migrating to the AWS cloud, covering:

      • Reasons for migrating to AWS cloud
      • Different frameworks for the migration process
      • Tips for  migrating from an on premise SAP environment


      Why should you consider migrating SAP on premise to AWS cloud?

      In our digitally inclined world, companies have a higher demand for real-time solutions that address their needs just as fast as they arise. This predicament makes mission-critical software a necessity for businesses to not only offer dependability but also adapt to constantly evolving market demands. And all of this has to happen while keeping vital data secure.

      SAP is recognized as a leading enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution given that 76% of global business transactions interface with its systems. For the most part, on premise SAP deployment meets business requirements. However, these setups tend to run on inflexible, costly infrastructure that makes it harder for businesses to rapidly adapt their SAP environments to shifting dynamics.

      To address this challenge, many SAP customers are moving their SAP environments to the cloud both partially and entirely to take advantage of the benefits that come with doing so. Across markets, as diverse as aerospace, energy, fashion and food, AWS cloud has emerged as an ideal cloud-based deployment solution to consider for several reasons.

      Cost reduction

      The infrastructure comprising legacy information technology systems is typically expensive to both implement and maintain. Companies have to shoulder the costs associated with setting up data centers and internal servers as well as having dedicated teams to keep systems up and running around the clock. 

      SAP deployment on the cloud reduces costs significantly through a pay-per-use model. Businesses incur relatively constant charges based on their specific needs and the scope of digital resources required, such as bandwidth. What’s more, SAP customers can also enjoy AWS cloud price reductions. Since 2006, there have been 106 such reductions.

      Another way to reduce costs is through resizing applications to consolidate data and undo overprovisioning. 

      The cost benefits accrued from the AWS cloud result in an overall lower total cost of ownership (TCO). According to an IDG cloud computing survey, reducing TCO is the top driver for companies looking to migrate from on premise SAP. 


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      Improved performance

      For any business evaluating its SAP deployment options, performance is a critical factor that can’t be overlooked. Going the AWS cloud way is just about guaranteed to result in uncompromised performance regardless of how intensive enterprise needs may be. 

      This can be attributed to the close working relationship SAP and AWS share. In addition to AWS having certification from SAP to run the ERP, both companies have extensively worked together to ensure SAP performance on the AWS cloud environment is fully optimized at a hardware and software level.

      Businesses running SAP on the AWS cloud get huge leaps in performance, leading to faster process execution. Perhaps this is most evident in the higher instances available. Users can take advantage of more resource allocations, going up to 24TB. For smaller businesses that may not require as much power, SAP instances on the AWS cloud start at 256GB. This can be increased as the business grows. 

      Behind these massive performance gains is AWS’ Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2)

      instances. These are optimized for specific workload needs, making for a tailor-made performance environment that’s much better than the less specialized, mass-targeted infrastructure a company may purchase for on premise use. 


      Even with strict SAP HANA requirements for big data and enterprise workloads, the processors AWS uses are designed to handle even the most demanding use cases. As improvements are made across the board from Amazon Web Services infrastructure to better processors capable of handling higher workloads and SAP improves its feature set, you can be sure that performance capabilities will continue to rise. The best part is that this will happen externally, without having to incur costs or mobilize additional company resources.

      Enhanced scalability

      Scalability is a key concern for any enterprise, regardless of whether it opts for onsite or cloud-based SAP deployment. Either way, as an organization grows, it needs more storage space for increasing amounts of data, better server performance, and improved end-to-end process management. 

      With SAP HANA on premise, adding more system resources calls for expensive infrastructure upgrades. Even with resource allocation guaranteed, there’s still the issue of complexity. A considerable amount of time would need to be invested to ensure that additional infrastructure implementation will meet every single need. Once this has taken place, any disruption can undo provisioning and scalability gains. 

      This was the case with the global COVID-19 pandemic. Despite many organizations having fortuity plans in place, few could have predicted the level of disruption witnessed. As such, many found themselves inadequately prepared to meet the shifts in market demands. Through predictive resource planning, SAP automation on AWS can go a long way in helping adapt operations to disruption.

      Companies that leverage SAP on the cloud can benefit from rapid scaling up or down as needed. AWS instances allow for adjustment of storage and networking, and compute infrastructure based on numerous factors such as shifting loads.


      Among the biggest threats to cloud-based workflows is security. Understandably, such concerns could hold a company back from SAP on premise to AWS cloud migration. After all, it may seem safer to have SAP on-site where internal teams can discreetly address security challenges if and when they arise. 

      Moreover, while larger networks like AWS offer greater capability, due to their scale and value, they tend to draw more attention from cybercriminals, thus putting them at higher risk of attack. Companies of all sizes are susceptible to attack and more companies have realized that cloud based environments such as AWS can match or surpass their own security capacities. 

      AWS cloud security approach features both dedicated engineering teams and automated systems. Both work in tandem, continuously testing, monitoring, and validating the defenses implemented across the AWS environment. 

      But, just how secure is the AWS cloud? That’s a frequently raised concern. Before IT administrators can sign off on SAP migration to AWS, they need assurance that their company’s resources would remain secure. AWS has PCI Compliance Level 1 certification, the highest level of compliance in line with the Payment Card Industry council’s Data Security Standards

      That’s not all: AWS has a total of 90 security standards and compliance certifications, is the only vetted cloud secure enough for highly confidential workloads and is a top choice for customers in regulated industries as well as government.

      Yet another way that the AWS cloud maintains security is through its AWS Partner Network (APN). Companies within this network offer a vast array of security services that enhance AWS’s own protection capabilities.

      Amid growing concerns over data privacy, AWS safeguards consumer data, secures communications and protects organizational systems and resources.

      If you’re ready to harness these AWS cloud advantages for SAP, let’s go over the frameworks to use in the migration process. 

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      SAP HANA to AWS migration frameworks

      The AWS Cloud Adoption Framework

      The AWS Cloud Adoption Framework (CAF) is a set of best practices to guide organizations through digital transformation as they move to cloud computing. AWS CAF outlines drivers of organizational growth, showing companies what they stand to gain from leveraging the cloud. 

      To achieve this, the CAF breaks down the complex process of cloud migration into six manageable components called perspectives. These are people, operations, business, governance, platform and security. 

      Organizations can pinpoint specific areas within each of these perspectives that require attention. This guides stakeholders on what to prioritize, evaluate readiness for cloud adoption and ensure flexibility during the process.

      The Amazon Web Services Cloud Adoption Framework focuses on four pillars:

      • Envision: This stage entails discovering and defining cloud adoption priorities. AWS recommends associating these priorities with measurable objectives. Consider how you can utilize scaling capabilities to control cloud costs by only utilizing what you need when you need it. Planning for it at this stage will allow an easier adoption of scaling once in AWS.

      • Align: At this level, organizations map out dependencies and find gaps in capability. This guides improved adoption readiness while helping gauge the degree of commitment from key stakeholders.

      • Launch: Here, pilots demonstrate the value in migrating. Should they prove successful, these runs ensure the transformation approach is well mapped out before full-scale production begins.

      • Scale: Once the organization has transitioned to the cloud, this stage encompasses matching resources to business needs, ensuring the gains of cloud adoption are realized.

      The 6 Rs Application Migration Framework

      The 6 Rs framework is a set of strategies derived from Gartner. It offers a better understanding of the technical aspects of migrating applications to AWS.

      Prior to implementing the 6 Rs framework, organizations need to establish the nature of their current environment, the interdependencies therein, and how to migrate each component based on difficulty.

      This is crucial as it offers a clear understanding of what the core requirements are, the challenges to expect, and the resources needed for successful AWS cloud deployment.

      Once these parameters are clearly defined, there are 6 Rs to consider:


      The Retire strategy is all about getting rid of applications. After the application discovery process, an organization may find that a certain portion of its portfolio is no longer needed. Retiring the obsolete could lead to cost reductions and redirection of resources to where they’re most needed.


      Retaining entails holding off on making any changes with the possibility of revisiting migration at a later stage. Keeping applications as they are may be suitable when an organization isn’t ready to make the move just yet. It could also be the way to go following a recent upgrade which eliminates the need to make further modifications for the time being.


      The Rehosting approach to SAP migration, also called “lift and shift,” entails moving applications as they are to the AWS cloud. This may be ideal in situations that call for prompt action such as an infrastructure lease nearing expiry. As the leading AIOPs platform, Avantra can help make this transition smooth. 


      This involves switching from existing software to a different product. Repurchasing can take place in two ways. First, you could transfer your software license from the on premise server to AWS. This requires the use of an external tool such as VM Import/Export. The other option entails finding replacements to applications currently in use. 


      Replatform means taking advantage of some AWS capabilities. This may mean making optimizations where necessary without a complete overhaul of the core application architecture. There may be a better solution on AWS that closely matches existing infrastructure while offering benefits such as reduced licensing costs. As a result, there’s minimized dependency on one solution provider, allowing for flexible migration. This may also be a great time to consider a technical HANA migration if you are not already running on HANA.  While it may seem logical to complete these separately, the process is very similar and will cut down on the amount of testing efforts.


      Refactoring/rearchitecting entails redesigning the current legacy landscape in a cloud-based manner. Revising current architecture creates room for newer features, different scaling or performance enhancements. Refactoring meets these enterprise needs while maximizing all the benefits cloud-based environments have to offer, such as improved agility.

      How to plan for SAP on premise to AWS cloud migration

      Before migrating your SAP environment to the AWS cloud, it’s imperative to plan extensively. Both companies provide a vast selection of resources and tools. Some of the preparation measures to put in place are as follows.

      Understand the nature of resource allocation in your current on premise SAP environment

      You should know what’s in your SAP environment, from hardware configurations to network connections. Every resource in use should be well defined to ensure that the cloud-based environment will be free of gaps and, therefore, fully operational. AWS recommends running its Application Discovery Service in advance for some time, as this will offer a preliminary assessment of what to expect from the new environment.

      Understand your options on the AWS cloud

      With knowledge of your current SAP environment, the next thing to do is understand the options available and how closely they match what AWS offers. To do this, you need to know the AWS architecture in depth.

      Ensure you have a comprehensive backup and restore structure in place

      AWS offers storage options such as the Storage Gateway. This is a virtual installation on your on premise servers for library management, storage blocking, and file replication. Backup and restoration should be exhaustively discussed with system integration specialists, like Avantra technical consultants. 

      All in all, SAP migration is an intensive undertaking that calls for stakeholder support, considerable planning, resource mobilization, and a solid understanding of both SAP and AWS architecture. With the right measures in place, the process can be a great success across the board, as has been proven by numerous success stories in different sectors.


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      Experience seamless SAP on premise to AWS cloud migration with Avantra

      Avantra helps businesses harness automation by taking the complexity out of running mission-critical systems.

      With a powerful, intuitive artificial intelligence operations platform, Avantra can help record and monitor performance before and after the migration in the source and target systems.  Furthermore, post-migration Avantra offers hypercare dashboards and deep insight into the systems.  And once the systems are up and running on AWS, Avantra’ automation platform that integrates with AWS, OS, DB and SAP for automation on the entire stack and is the missing piece for full scaling in/out capabilities, a feature never heard of prior in SAP environments. 

      Avantra can also help control your AWS costs by scheduling automated shutdown of SAP systems and the underlying AWS cloud EC2 instances when systems are not needed, such as non-production systems over the weekend, or parts of systems, such as secondary app servers when not needed.

      Avantra’s SAP automation in AWS enables you to:

      • Automate daily operations tasks
      • Scale SAP environments to ensure proper architecture when needed
      • Reduce operation costs
      • Reduce cloud costs
      • Improve experiences for your stakeholders
      • Increase your level of compliance/audibility
      • Reduce operational risk


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