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Top Considerations for Running SAP Production Environments in the Cloud: Q&A with Joe Gallego

June 18, 2014

Thank you to all who joined our Q&A on running your SAP production systems on the cloud and IBM Cloud Services. Joe Gallego, IBM Cloud enablement specialist, took reader questions in this one-hour chat on topics such as use cases, sizing, and deployment options for SAP systems running on the cloud. 

Review the replay here, and look for our edited Q&A transcript below.



Bridget Kotelly, HANA 2014 conference:  Welcome to today’s Q&A! We'll be chatting about evaluating a move to the cloud for your SAP production systems.

IBM’s Joe Gallego joins us to take your questions about evaluating a move to the cloud. Joe Gallego an IBM Cloud enablement specialist and is here to share his expertise on evaluating cloud services, cloud migration for SAP systems and running SAP HANA on the cloud.

Welcome, Joe, and thank you for joining us today!

Joseph Gallego, IBM: Hi everyone, thanks for joining! Ready when you are :-)

Bridget Kotelly:  Before we go to questions from our readers, can we kick off with some of your top questions that come up in a move to the cloud…

Bridget Kotelly: What do you see as drivers/use cases for SAP customers as they look at running production systems on the cloud?

 Joseph Gallego:  From a business perspective, cloud can help simplify and speed up mergers and acquisitions, spin-up new business processes as well as opening branches in new Geos.

Comment From Sanaz Atai: Shall we use cloud for all SAP systems in the landscape or is it recommended to use for production SAP system?

Joseph Gallego: You can use use non-production and production systems in the cloud - both are certified by SAP. You must check with the cloud vendor on the support. IBM supports both.

Comment From Aran: We get a lot of pitches from vendors saying they can "take us to the cloud". Any tips on questions we should ask?

Joseph Gallego:  Here are some things to look for:

  • Find out what level of service the cloud vendor provides, for example, IaaS, PaaS, Managed IaaS, Managed PaaS, SaaS etc.?
  • Check the SLAs, DC locations, services included?
  • Does the vendor support production workloads on cloud?
  • Does the vendor support integration with non-SAP systems?
  • What OS and DBs are supported?
  • What is the scalability of the SAP systems on cloud?   

Comment From Faizal: What happens if you lose internet connectivity? Does that mean your production environment is no longer accessible?

Joseph Gallego: For mission critical workloads, the recommendation for network would be using MPLS or connectivity that has an SLA from the customer site to the cloud provider to guarantee the best resiliency.

Comment From Ken: Please describe how being in the cloud simplifies a DB refresh.

Joseph Gallego: One of the key capabilities in cloud is automation, this simplifies basic SAP tasks like DB refresh, system cloning, etc., and provides a better time to value.

Comment From Al: Do you have any suggestions on how "mature" an SAP shop should be in moving to the cloud?

Joseph Gallego: Moving to the cloud is a path and it depends on where you are today. There are assessments that vendors like IBM perform to see where you are today and what is the best approach to cloud specifically for your company.

Comment From Guest: What are the HANA scenarios that can now run on the cloud?

Joseph Gallego: All HANA scenarios are supported on cloud by SAP, like BS on HANA, BW on HANA, or side-by-side scenarios. You would just need to verify with the cloud provider to see if they support these.

Comment From Daniel: How should we decide what deployment model for cloud might be right? What are the most popular options?

Joseph Gallego: Well, there are many cloud deployment models available, but it depends on what you are looking for. These are some of the questions you might want to consider for finding the right deployment model:


  • IaaS, PaaS or SaaS
  • Managed or unmanaged service
  • Private or public cloud
  • What should be kept on premise
  • What should be taken to the cloud, etc.

Comment From Faizal: Would this be more suited towards a larger company with say 10,000 people versus a company of 500?

Joseph Gallego: Yes, cloud is applicable to companies of any size. IBM has fortune 500 companies that are currently running SAP on cloud.

Comment From Kirin: Do you think SAP's roadmap will lead all customers to the cloud or will we always have a choice?

Joseph Gallego:

Clients should always have a choice to use cloud or not. The best approach is the ability to mix and match different cloud deployment models along with private - a hybrid approach.

Comment From Guest: What was the size of the biggest BW system that you have seen moved to cloud?

Joseph Gallego:  15 TB is the biggest I've seen in Cloud.

Comment From Jerome: What % cost save do we see moving SAP to the cloud?

Joseph Gallego: Besides the cost savings that can be in the order of 20-30%, Cloud can also help increase revenue since it reduces time to market and also helps extend the business to new GEOs.

Guest: Any tips on what SLAs we should expect for SAP on cloud?

Joseph Gallego: There are some you should consider having

1. Availability. If service is IaaS, SLAs should be at infrastructure level. If service is PaaS or SaaS, SLAs should be at application level.

2. SAP Performance SLA. Only if PaaS or SaaS, it should be <1sec response time, which is what SAP considers a good response time.

3. 24x7 support for Production

4. Service delivery response time

5. Service delivery resolution time

Comment From Guest: We have a mix of SAP and non-SAP systems in place today but plan to move to all SAP. Will being in the cloud help or hinder that?

Joseph Gallego: Well, it would help, since you can build and provision SAP systems faster and you have the flexibility of cloud to help during the transition period.

Comment From Roland: We are planning to implement HANA but no plans to move SAP to the cloud. What do you recommend?

Joseph Gallego: Well, we have many customers that ask us this same question. In many cases customers are looking for Managed Cloud Services that can help with the skills required for HANA and also avoid having to purchase HW. HANA on the cloud help you consume this service instead of building everything on-premise.

Comment From Al: Are there advantages to going step-by-step in the cloud or big bang?

Joseph Gallego: There are advantages to going step by step to the cloud. The reasons are that you can get key members of you staff working cloud, experiencing the speed, agility and flexibility in say a small/dev test scenario. Based on that success there is a desire to do more - larger dev test/production, etc. Starting small and accelerating allows for the cultural change to happen at the same time.

Comment From Guest: Is there still a need for Basis admins with cloud?

Joseph Gallego: Yes, of course. It really depends on the cloud option. SAP Basis would not be required in SaaS models, for example, but they would in IaaS and PaaS.

Uday: Can you tell something about cloud applications running on SuccessFactors?
Joseph Gallego: SuccessFactors is a SaaS offering from SAP focused on HR applications. Companies can connect their SAP system running on cloud or on premise to SuccessFactors through a plug-in and consume it as a service.

Comment From Guest: Where can I see a list of versions for SAP systems recommended for cloud? We have been told to upgrade, but not sure we need to?

Joseph Gallego: Well, as long as the SAP product/versions are supported by SAP in PAM ( they can run on cloud. For example, IBM supports current version and old versions of SAP on their cloud.

Adriana Weingart: Hi, Joseph!  Thanks for this opportunity! SAP on SoftLayer... Are production environments OK to run there?

Joseph Gallego: Yes, SAP production workloads can run on SoftLayer. Both traditional DB based and HANA-based SAP systems are certified to run on SoftLayer.

Adriana Weingart: Any SAP product?

Joseph Gallego: Yes, as long as the O.S and DB combinations are supported in PAM (service/

Adriana Weingart: SAP products can run on SoftLayer, but any limitations, when compared to other cloud solutions?

Joseph Gallego: No limitations. On the contrary SoftLayer provides unique differentiators like provisioning of not only VM’s, but also baremetal servers (no virtualization) that provide better performance than virtualized systems. And thanks to SoftLayer’s automation, these servers can be provisioned at cloud speed (minutes).

Adriana Weingart: And, what are the performance improvements an environment can expect when moving to Cloud?

Joseph Gallego: Technical performance would be the same as on-premise, what would change in Cloud is the consumption model (pay-per use), speed and agility to provision (better time to market) and cost reduction.
Thanks again!

Uday: I would like to know the transport mechanism in SF. Do we move configuration from test system to production?

Joseph Gallego: SuccessFactors is a SaaS offering from SAP. You must work with SAP and your systems integrator.

Guest: In which scenarios (Business/Technical) you would not recommend moving to cloud?

Joseph Gallego: From technical perspective, scenarios with network latency issues, support for old O.S/DB version (legacy), etc. Form a business perspective, there may be certain restrictions due to compliance like FDA, government regulations, ITAR, etc. You must check these with your cloud providers to see that these can be covered. 

Guest: What are the key decision factors for cloud vs. on premise?

Joseph Gallego: Typically the value of cloud vs on premise comes from the speed, agility and cost reduction it provide as well as pay per use consumption model. You should assess these areas to quantify the specific benefits to your company by migrating workloads like SAP to cloud.

Guest: Were there any major issues moving a BW system that big to the cloud?

Joseph Gallego: IBM has two migration types based on the size of the SAP systems that have different methodology and approach. For the 15 TB BW, the large DB migration type was used and the system was migrated as planned. Another important factor that can influence the migration strategy besides the size is the maximum downtime for a specific SAP System.

Guest: Our SAP environment is growing, becoming more complex, and keeping skilled staff is an issue. How can a managed cloud help with that?

Joseph Gallego: A managed SAP Cloud offering can help provide not only the standard Cloud benefits at infrastructure level, but also having a managed SAP service were you simply consume SAP with SLA’s for the service. Popular options for this are either Managed PaaS or SaaS offerings. IBM provides a managed PaaS offering called Cloud Managed Services for SAP where the service is provided up to the SAP Basis and comes with SLAs at the application level (availability, system performance, service delivery, etc.).

Guest: What are deployment options for running onto SAP on Cloud service?

It depends on the level of service you are looking for. It can go from IaaS, Managed IaaS, PaaS, Managed PaaS, SaaS and go all the way up to BPaaS (Business process as a service).

Sanaz Atai: What is the hardware requirement for cloud infrastructure?

Joseph Gallego: In cloud, the infrastructure is provided. Hardware and platforms will vary depending on the cloud vendor.

Guest: Any best practices for taking non-HANA systems to the cloud and integrating with HANA on the cloud?

Joseph Gallego: Best approach is to have both non-HANA and HANA based systems running in the same cloud (typically the same data center) since there will be low latency between systems. Then you can consume both from Cloud.

Guest: Do cloud vendors need to be certified by SAP to provide cloud services?

Joseph Gallego: Yes, you can find the certified SAP cloud service providers here .

Guest: Can I run HANA based production systems on cloud?

Joseph Gallego: Yes, this is certified by SAP. IBM for example supports HANA production workloads on cloud.

Guest: What is the difference between HANA One and HANA on Cloud?

Joseph Gallego: There are two basic differences: First, HANA One includes the SAP HANA license, whereas HANA on cloud is typically BYOL.

Second HANA One has one size only, that is 64GB, whereas HANA can have many sizes (128GB, 256GB, 1 TB, etc.).

IBM supports HANA One on SoftLayer (part of the IBM Cloud Services) as well as standard HANA.

What OS and databases do you support in the IBM Cloud for SAP?

- O.S: AIX, RHEL, SuSe (for HANA) and Windows.

- DB: Oracle, DB2, MS SQL Srv, Sybase & HANA

Guest: Where are the IBM Cloud data centers located?

Joseph Gallego: You can run SAP on any of the 40 Data centers located worldwide located in America, Europe, Asia and Australia.

Guest: What HANA scenarios can I run in cloud?

Joseph Gallego: Business Suite on HANA, BW on HANA, side-by-side Reporting and Analytics, side-by-side Accelerators.

Guest: How can I find out the latencies for a cloud data center?

Joseph Gallego: This depends on the cloud or network provider. For example, on SoftLayer that is part of the IBM Cloud Data centers. You can see the latency to the data centers in real time at this link:

Bridget Kotelly:
 Before we go, I want to again thank Joe Gallego of IBM for joining us today. Thanks for taking the time out for these questions! 

Joseph Gallego: Thank you everyone for joining!!

Bridget Kotelly: Thanks again, Joe. I also just wanted to add that for more on cloud services and options, watch uor interview with Joe’s colleague, Chuck Kichler in this video from our HANA 2014 conference and review a recent webinar on the topic.  As always, you can look for additional resources on SAPinsider’s Cloud Channel. Thanks again for joining us! 

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