Combining S/4HANA and cloud migration: How companies benefit

Reiner Bachthaler Senior Product Manager for Digital Transformation Solution at SNP
| 7 min read

The introduction of S/4HANA and the relocation of data to the cloud are two trending topics for SAP user companies which, until now, have usually been addressed separately. However, a combined approach offers clear advantages in terms of costs, system downtime and project runtimes. We spoke to Reiner Bachthaler, Senior Product Manager for Digital Transformation Solution at SNP, about the software-based migration approach which enables a simultaneous changeover, and the challenges that need to be overcome in transformation projects.


Mr. Bachthaler, why should companies consider migrating to SAP S/4HANA and the cloud at the same time?

The conversion to S/4HANA and the path to the cloud are two key trends and central topics for most SAP users and will keep them busy for the next few years. While the cloud conversion initially proves to be an infrastructure issue, the S/4HANA implementation is to be seen as a combination of technical migration and business transformation, in the context of which business processes are adapted and optimized in order to leverage the potential of S/4HANA in the best possible way.

Many customers initially take the approach of bringing existing ECC systems into the cloud and postponing the migration to S/4HANA until years later. Although these two projects certainly can be separated, higher overall costs, interruptions to ongoing operations, as well as longer transition periods with restrictions on the use of SAP systems are to be expected as a result. In contrast, a combined approach offers clear advantages.


How can a combined changeover be optimally planned?

For the cloud infrastructure, it is important to determine the framework in a reliable and automated manner. Decision-makers want to know what the individual target configuration in the cloud looks like, what additional flexibility and further advantages the relocation to the cloud brings, and what costs will incur in ongoing operations. Here, SNP has already developed automated cloud sizing solutions for the Azure Cloud and for the IBM Cloud, which cover these requirements much faster, more flexibly and more securely than previous approaches. The analysis and definition of the cloud infrastructure can be perfectly combined with an S/4HANA assessment – thus creating the basis for a combined transformation project.

 Quelle SNP 

Source: SNP

What opportunities does SNP's selective migration approach offer in this context?

SAP systems have grown over many years in most companies, which often results in a "proliferation". The data quality is often quite heterogeneous, there are many customizing areas and a multitude of interfaces

Our selective migration approach (Bluefield) offers the opportunity for a targeted system optimization as part of the cloud and S/4HANA conversion: Unused areas or historical data up until a certain key date can be cut off or archived. Interfaces and customizing areas that are no longer used thus do not have to be transferred to the new system and further maintained with sustainable efficiency benefits.

The result is a leaner, higher-performance target system with significantly higher data quality and also with lower cloud operating costs. For example, many thousands of euros can be saved over a typical cloud subscription period of three years if the database only comes up to 5 TB instead of 7 TB.

If there is a carve-out scenario, there is no way around a selective migration anyway: Certain areas of the original system must be specifically cut out and transferred to an existing or new target system.

In a classic (non-software-based) approach, a selective migration – if at all possible – means a high temporal expenditure with many manual and error-prone steps. With SNP's software-based selective transformation approach, many processes such as test cycles can be combined, hence shortening the project duration by up to 75 percent and reducing project costs.


What are the potential hurdles with regard to the transformation? And how can companies meet these challenges?

In most companies, cloud and S/4HANA migrations are the responsibility of different departments. Therefore, a close interdepartmental exchange is essential for the success of the project. This can prove to be a challenge, but should be seen as a great opportunity to achieve an optimal transformation result in all areas and to coordinate the efforts for these topics in the best possible way.

The greatest challenge for companies is certainly the predictability of the project and the question of the value of an S/4HANA and cloud migration. At SNP, we support our customers with a sound value calculation and software-supported project planning that ensures a high level of predictability even before the actual transformation. For the important area of transforming business processes when switching to S/4HANA, we work closely with our broad partner network - with the aim of showing companies the potential and defining the right, customer-specific strategy.

In this way, possible reservations about the path to the cloud and S/4HANA can be eliminated prior to the project. Decision-makers are made aware of the importance of the changeover for their own company and the benefits it entails.


Which partners is SNP already working with in the course of S/4HANA cloud migrations?

SNP cooperates on S/4HANA cloud migration with hyperscalers such as Microsoft, AWS, Google and IBM, but also with many different system integrators via our broad partner network. With Microsoft, we have even developed solutions for automated cloud sizing as part of a close cooperation. This eliminates the need for time-consuming analysis projects to determine the optimal cloud infrastructure and makes the path to the cloud even safer and faster.

The partnerships ensure that the SNP solutions are optimally embedded in an overall concept to meet the requirements of the companies for an SAP transformation, the path to the cloud, and additional tasks, e.g., in the area of "Managed Services". We therefore speak of a combination of best-in-class providers for various requirements.


What are the benefits of using services and products in a complementary way?

The classic approach to SAP transformations is usually based on implementing projects with high consulting costs but without dedicated transformation software. While in this way, companies do not need to pay additional licensing costs for transformation software, planning and forecasting for the large-scale project is fraught with great uncertainty. How the transformation project will actually proceed, how long it will take - significantly longer without software deployment! - and exactly what the result will look like is thus difficult to define.

SNP takes a different approach: At the beginning of every transformation project, there is a comprehensive analysis based on our CrystalBridge software. This is used to determine exactly what the precise framework parameters for a transformation look like, which path is best for the customer and how the project will proceed in terms of time and individual steps - a blueprint is created.

The software deployment provides maximum transparency and predictability for the customer even before the start of the transformation project, as well as a clear software-based concept for the SNP consultants and/or partners to carry out a partially automated transformation.


Mr. Bachthaler, thank you very much for this interesting interview.


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