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Pros and cons of SAP migration to the cloud

Hosting SAP on cloud services can bring added security and scalability. But organizations must also watch out for issues such as resource mismanagement and downtime.

SAP customers considering a move to the cloud must take into account the advantages and disadvantages of such a move.

An ERP system is often a critical business application. Employees rely on such software to track inventory levels, generate invoices and maintain production schedules, for example. This is one of the main reasons why organizations tend to keep servers on premises to maintain control and avoid major changes to their ERP environment. An SAP cloud migration can enable IT to take advantage of capabilities and benefits, however.

Top reasons to migrate to the cloud

The following are some of the benefits that come with an SAP migration to the cloud:

Scalability. SAP requires multiple servers to run, including application servers, a data interface and electronic data interchange server, and a database engine. Over time, many of these servers may require changes to accommodate the increases in data requirements and users. Unlike traditional on-premises servers, where additional hardware is sometimes required to deliver the additional resources, IT administrators can use the flexibility the cloud provides to quickly provision additional servers, storage and processing power with just a few clicks from the cloud portal.

The shift to a subscription model can quickly get out of control.

Test environments. In some of the large implementations of SAP, organizations implement custom code and other customizations to gain some specific functionality they need. This customization results in the need for a secondary environment for development and testing purposes. To help mitigate the costs of duplicating all the hardware and software needed for periodic testing, the cloud can provide a quick and cost-efficient way to deploy testing systems -- and only for when they are in use.

Security and compliance. Given the growing threat of cyberattacks and concerns many companies have when it comes to losing their data, CIOs and chief information security officers find it valuable to put their systems in the cloud to take advantage of the providers' security services. Microsoft offers built-in identity protection and data networking controls, for instance. Customers can purchase additional security protections that use advanced machine learning, behavioral analytics and application-based intelligence to detect threats.

Given that it can be a significant burden on IT to meet some of the required compliance certifications when managing an on-premises data center, a cloud provider such as Amazon, Google or Microsoft that already meets most of the standard requirements is attractive. An SAP migration to the cloud can help eliminate some of the complexity and resources needed for ongoing audits.

Disadvantages of cloud

Despite all the advantages an SAP migration to cloud seems to provide, there is also another side to this coin.

Costs. One of the advantages of the cloud is the ability for an organization to reduce its upfront capital investment in IT equipment and hardware. But the shift to a subscription model can quickly get out of control when the organization does not monitor and manage it properly. It's easy to provision servers and other workloads in the cloud, so mismanagement of these resources can sometimes lead to additional expenses for systems that are not being used. This scenario can affect IT budgets and is especially concerning to executives.

Unreliable connectivity. Some organizations that may be in rural areas and face connectivity issues from time to time can quickly find themselves without access to SAP when their internet provider is down. An SAP migration to cloud can increase risks for more downtime, whereas an on-premises environment without access to the internet would not have similar issues.

Performance issues and system integration. Another aspect of the network that IT administrators must wrestle with is the overall system performance. SAP fully supports its deployment in public and private clouds, so the performance can be problematic at times, especially when ERP must integrate with automation systems. Some of the latency on the network can create challenges for the IT team.

Despite concerns around the adoption of cloud services to host SAP, organizations can reap benefits of scalability, data protection and disaster recovery. To start, customers would likely require the IT team to get some training to do an SAP migration to cloud.

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