Canadian General-Tower (CGT) is a world leader in the production of coated fabrics for swimming pools, automobiles, roofing, decks, and containment materials for covering products such as lithium. Its polymer products line pools and cover automotive panels in six continents and 20 markets; CGT’s expansion plans include establishing a presence in Mexico, Russia, and Eastern Europe.
To help fuel global expansion, which included the recent addition of a production facility in China, the Cambridge, Ontario-based fabrics company researched better ways to make use of its operational data to improve its decision-making processes. After investigating various technology options, CGT decided to deploy SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud, SAP’s private managed cloud solution for organizations to run SAP workloads on SAP S/4HANA.
A major factor in CGT’s selection of SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud was the access it provided to SAP expertise in support of the managed cloud environment. SAP’s development organization is readily available for problem solving and advice. In addition, SAP did the project planning for CGT and had SAP HANA up and running on SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud within several weeks.
“With SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud, the vendor of the software is entirely accountable and responsible for the performance and the outcome, and that is a tremendous benefit for the customer,” says Sanjay Kulkarni, Global Head, SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud Architecture & Advisory. These benefits go past performance and features, according to Kulkarni: “Companies frequently overlook the impact of costs associated with an in-house Basis team, in-house infrastructure, and IT teams, especially if there are associated third-party components,” he says.
Cost and Performance Benefits
With SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud, CGT didn’t have to worry about having in-house expertise to install any hardware or manage, maintain, and operate SAP HANA; SAP keeps it updated and tuned. The company pays a monthly subscription fee based on use and can scale up or down depending on its needs. Putting its IT operations in the cloud freed CGT to focus on its primary business, rather than worrying about operating SAP HANA.
A study for SAP by International Data Corporation (IDC) examined the business value that CGT extracted from SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud and estimated a 28% lower cost of operations over five years compared with the cost of an on-premise deployment of SAP HANA. That estimate factors in the lower risk of costly unplanned outages in a cloud environment versus on premise.
The performance benefits from running SAP workloads on SAP S/4HANA stem from two elements, according to Kulkarni. First, SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud customers leverage the advantages of an in-memory platform immediately without touching anything on the application code line. The second performance benefit, from the application side, comes from the optimized code line. “A lot of the redundancies and optimizations are taken away,” says Kulkarni. “You have a much better data structure and a much tighter coupling or integration of the application and the underlying platform.”
Even more important, the risk elements and typical pitfalls associated with a complex migration and the re-platforming are alleviated because SAP has done it for thousands of customers, Kulkarni explains. “Depending on the customer’s industry, types of add-ons, and data volume, SAP knows how to optimize each customer’s environment. SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud is the fast lane or accelerator to get you to SAP S/4HANA.”
Kulkarni says the benefits realized by CGT apply to small and midsize enterprises and large companies alike. The mix of SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud customers ranges from very large multinational corporations that do business across different regions to small customers with a localized footprint. Service is provided through a combination of SAP’s own data centers and the data centers of hyperscale platform partners.
Taking Care of Security
SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud complies with varying data sovereignty regulations across the globe. For example, Kulkarni says, Russia has strong regulations preventing data about Russian citizens from leaving the country. Federal customers in the US require that data centers be operated and managed by US citizens. Meanwhile, Brazil has a strong preference for data to be managed in the Brazilian states themselves. “We have the ability to service all these customers across the spectrum irrespective of their locations and their delivery risk requirements,” Kulkarni says.
With SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud, the vendor of the software is entirely accountable and responsible for the performance and the outcome, and that is a tremendous benefit for the customer.
- Sanjay Kulkarni, Global Head, SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud Architecture & Advisory
According to Kulkarni, security is considered the top priority and an ongoing area of evaluation and service improvement at SAP. For example, SAP took the initiative to make sure SAP is compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) across SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud and other lines of business products. “It is important to stress that SAP is compliant in terms of the standard sets of checks and balances that we continue investing in, whether they are Sarbanes-Oxley audits or requirements in specific industries, such as healthcare,” Kulkarni says. Healthcare compliance includes the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) requirements in the US and good practice (GxP) guidelines in the pharmaceutical industry and validated environments.
Innovation at Your Own Pace
Because SAP has economies of scale, a customer does not need to have everything figured out at the outset of a project. Customers have the flexibility to change the capacity requirements by scaling up or down as needed. “This level of flexibility and unpredictability is becoming more and more the norm,” says Kulkarni. “It becomes harder and harder for customers to plan to the last detail, and SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud lends itself to this business need.”
SAP’s global delivery model includes an engagement manager responsible for the contract after the sale. A technical lead oversees the technical landscape and is involved with any changes such as version upgrades. And a project lead helps with onboarding, migrations, or new implementations. Kulkarni notes that automation continues to be an area of focus and ongoing investment for monitoring SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud.
According to Kulkarni, some customers use SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud as a cost-effective transition to SAP S/4HANA in a private managed cloud while preparing for a migration to SAP S/4HANA Cloud, the company’s public cloud offering of SAP S/4HANA. Moving from any database, including Oracle or SQL, is seen as a cost-effective, risk-free way to upgrade to SAP S/4HANA, which in turn opens up the ability to take advantage of artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities in pursuit of becoming an intelligent enterprise.
Kulkarni outlined the potential SAP life cycle of such a customer, breaking down the roadmap into three broad areas. The first phase is the “lift and shift” of whatever SAP functionalities and data platform the customer is using to SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud or to one of the hyperscale platforms. The second step is optimization: taking the system back to the standard by shedding a lot of customizations and unnecessary artifacts accumulated over the years, which brings down the total cost of ownership (TOC). SAP has custom code analysis tools for this optimization process. From there, customers can move and centralize customizations and innovations on SAP Cloud Platform. That paves the way for the use of a lot of the newer applications offered by SAP Leonardo — applications with machine learning or artificial intelligence — that can be custom-made or consumed from SAP Cloud Platform. With this end-to-end integrated view of the enterprise through a shared common infrastructure, customers are on the path to becoming an intelligent enterprise.
“SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud is the fastest and smartest way to get you there,” Kulkarni says. “It is a guided path and turnkey approach that delivers cost-effective business outcomes.”