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Skytap targets staged HANA migrations for IBM Power Systems

SAP customers who want to begin a cloud migration to HANA but aren't ready for a full migration can move workloads onto IBM Power Systems to the Skytap IaaS on Microsoft Azure.

SAP customers who want to get NetWeaver and other SAP workloads out of data centers but aren't ready for a full transition to the cloud have another option with Skytap.

Skytap is an infrastructure as a service aimed at lifting SAP application workloads and shifting them onto IBM Power Systems servers that run in Azure. This is beneficial for customers who need to take a staged approach to a cloud transition, according to Neil Holloway, senior vice president of business development at Skytap.

Neil Holloway, senior vice president of business development, SkytapNeil Holloway

"It's about a lift-and-shift, and then we can run [the SAP workload] in the Azure data center," Holloway said. "After that, we can start extending it by adding Azure native services into the application, which is running on IBM Power systems in the Azure data center."

SAP's large installed base of customers that have remained on legacy systems like R/3, ECC 5 or 6 or NetWeaver face questions about when and how they plan to move to SAP HANA -- whether the HANA database or S/4HANA -- and what data they want to move, he said.

Skytap offers a way for companies to move some or all of their SAP workloads to the cloud as they determine their long-term strategy.

"They're trying to figure out what's the journey to get to HANA," Holloway said. "There may be different scenarios where in the short term there's value to move some of the workload or all of the workload to a cloud platform.'"

He cited three specific enterprise scenarios:

  • Auditing. When companies need to keep a record of the legacy system that they're running for compliance or regulatory requirements, they can put SAP workloads onto the Skytap infrastructure in read-only mode.
  • Business continuity. Customers planning a staged migration to the cloud can move some capabilities to the cloud for backup and disaster recovery while continuing to run the system on premises.
  • Data center exit. Customers who want to shut their data centers but aren't ready for a full cloud migration can use Skytap temporarily as they continue to work toward HANA.

"Ultimately, SAP customers probably want to be running HANA in the cloud; it's all just a matter of time," Holloway said. "This can be a good steppingstone for the ones that aren't in the forefront of moving to HANA to go on this journey."

Fulfilling a niche for SAP cloud migrations

Skytap's infrastructure as a service fulfills a need for companies that are looking to move SAP systems to the cloud under specific circumstances, said James Sanders, research analyst for cloud and managed services transformation at 451 Research.

James SandersJames Sanders

For example, Skytap's partnership with Microsoft and IBM might make it a good choice for companies that already have a strong IT presence on Microsoft Azure and IBM Power Systems.

"Skytap has multiple customers that have done this thing, so they also have the institutional experience of having dealt with SAP migrations from on premises to the cloud," Sanders said. "It's something that they've really tried to build a niche for."

Skytap doesn't have much competition other than from IBM or SAP itself, and it does have a track record of successful deployments, he said.

"The obvious point of comparison with Skytap is that they're going to compete with IBM in some regard for SAP deployments, as [IBM is] the creator of the Power architecture," Sanders said. "In terms of the technology, the choice is either working directly with SAP or IBM -- which is an SAP partner with their own offering, Breakthrough with IBM for Rise with SAP -- and Skytap."

On the services side, customers who are moving to S/4HANA will likely work with systems integrators [SIs] and managed services providers [MSPs] that they already have a working relationship with, he said.

"For example, if you're already working with Capgemini, you're probably going to work with Capgemini on this type of migration," Sanders said. "That's true of any of the [MSPs or SIs], such as Accenture, Cognizant, Deloitte, EY, HCL, Infosys, Tata and Wipro."

Skytap has "cooperative relationships" with several MSPs, including Accenture and Meridian IT, according to the company.

Jim O'Donnell is a TechTarget news writer who covers ERP and other enterprise applications for SearchSAP and SearchERP.

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