SAP’s introduction of HANA technology a few years ago was a major disruptor to SAP support organizations globally. SAP’s technology platform, which had remained fairly stagnant prior to the introduction of HANA, is now evolving at a pace that has not been seen before.
SAP introduced the first R/3 version in 1992. Nearly 12 years passed before the introduction of the Netweaver platform and ECC 5.0 in 2004. Once ECC 5.0 was introduced, the technology platform again remained relatively unchanged until the introduction of BW on HANA in late 2011, and then Business Suite on HANA in 2013. Since that time, we have seen a rapid evolution in deployment and architecture options and architecture requirements that continue to challenge IT organizations to keep up.
Challenge #1: People
In the first blog in this series, we examined the “People Problem” in detail as it related to the challenges that internal IT organizations face when running SAP on-premise. The pace of change with respect to HANA is a large contributing factor to that challenge. IT organizations must keep key administrators and IT executives abreast of HANA technology changes, infrastructure requirement changes, ever changing and expanding roadmap options, and more. Simply keeping up with SAP’s ever evolving terminology can sometimes be a full time job in itself. In addition, certifications may need to be considered, especially when running a Tailored Datacenter Integration (TDI) environment, where certified HANA installers must be on staff or contracted to support new system roll outs.
Challenge #2: Software Updates
In the day-to-day struggle to “keep the lights on” with respect to your mission critical SAP applications, in many cases software updates can be high on the list of things that get pushed to the back burner. Keeping up with operating system patches, database patches and upgrades, SAP kernel patches, and even SAP Support Packages become a challenge to plan and execute.
Best practice is to follow a regular and frequent patching schedule for all key components of your SAP landscape. Allowing these updates to fall behind opens your enterprise up to the risk of encountering system breaking bugs from the database and SAP executable layers, all the way up to the application functionality layer, which could result in higher levels of system downtime. In some cases, the lack of a regular patching schedule could lead to security vulnerabilities that open the organization up to even higher levels of risk.
Challenge #3: Technology
The third challenge that organizations face is keeping up with technology requirements. SAP HANA technology requirements hit all of the major technology categories within your data center: Compute, Storage, and Networking. Understanding these requirements and keeping up with their evolving nature is key to ensuring that you are able to implement HANA landscapes that are stable, high performing, cost effective, and supported by SAP.
Collectively, the changing nature of deploying and supporting all aspects of your SAP environment brings to bear one of the key advantages in considering a move to a full Managed Cloud provider. A Managed Cloud service provider who specializes in running and supporting SAP environments will take the burden of keeping up with these changes off your IT organization, allowing your IT staff to focus on meeting the needs of your business. Through your Managed Cloud provider you will now have at your disposal an experienced team of dedicated resources who are committed to staying abreast of the latest and most cost effective technologies for running your SAP environment today and into the future.