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How to Accelerate Your Transition to SAP S/4HANA

Q&A on Deploying SAP S/4HANA in the Cloud

September 13, 2016

In this Q&A session, experts from IBM provided answers to questions about how to accelerate your transition to SAP S/4HANA.

If you missed the chat or need a refresher, we welcome you to view the online chat replay or read the edited transcript below.

Meet the panelists:   

Pandian AthirajanPandian Athirajan, Business Development Executive, IBM
Pandian is responsible for business development activities for IBM Cloud for SAP Applications with global system integrators. He works closely with Accenture, Deloitte, and CSC, and is involved in positioning IBM SAP Cloud to their clients as part of their end to end solution. Previous to this role, he managed a team of product/offering managers focused on white labeled offerings, trusted cloud offerings and foundational services. Pandian joined IBM in 1999. He has an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, a graduate degree in industrial engineering from the University of Cincinnati, and a bachelor degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Madras, India.

Brian BurkeBrian Burke, IBM SAP Global Alliance Executive, IBM
Brian Burke is responsible for the relationship with SAP representing the entire IBM portfolio of hardware, software, cloud, and services. He is also responsible for HANA on Power and HANA Cloud globally for the IBM SAP Alliance. This is his 25th consecutive year handling the Alliance with SAP and has been with IBM for 35 years. He has spent significant time at SAP in Walldorf, Germany as well as SAP Labs in Palo Alto, California. He is located at SAP Headquarters, in Newtown Sq. Pennsylvania. Brian has his MBA from Temple University.

How to Accelerate Your Transition to SAP S/4HANA

Matthew Shea: Welcome to today’s Q&A on deploying SAP S/4HANA in the cloud! I’m pleased to be joined today by Pandian Athirajan, Business Development Executive, IBM, and Brian Burke, IBM SAP Global Alliance Executive, IBM.

There are several questions that have already been posted, so I’ll let you get started on those now. Please enter your questions into the module below.

Comment From Augusto De Avila: We are in HANA in this moment. Could I implement S/4HANA in the cloud immediately?

Brian Burke: It sounds like you are running HANA on-premise right now. If so, depending on what you are running and if it's non-production , you can start doing S/4HANA  in the cloud. However, you probably want to make sure that you are sized correctly and have all the cloud prerequisites completed.

Comment From Guest: How does SuccessFactors fit into the picture?

Pandian: SuccessFactors is already available to you on cloud as a software-as-a-service (SaaS) HCM solution from SAP. I’d appreciate it if you can elaborate your question to address your concerns.

Comment From Hemant: What is the recommended or best way to move from ECC 6.0 EhP4 — SAP NetWeaver 7.01 to SAP S/4HANA Business Suite?

Brian Burke: You have a few different choices. Some customers are just doing a brand new implementation of S/4HANA. Some are doing a migration from ECC. You really need to look at how customized your existing ECC is, how many integration points into ECC you have, and so on.

The real way to look at this is to have someone like IBM look at your present environments and work with you on the lowest cost, easiest, most functionality, and so on.

Comment From Srikanth:  Which option is the best to choose: S/4HANA on-premise edition or S/4HANA in the cloud? Why?

Pandian: It depends on several factors. I suggest you have a separate call with the IBM team to understand your scenario. You can reach out to me at

Comment From Hemant: What is the major difference (advantages and disadvantages) between S/4HANA Business Suite on premise installation versus in the cloud?

Pandian: From a functionality perspective, there is absolutely no difference. However, whether you want to run your production systems in the cloud or on-premise depends on several factors. I’d appreciate if you can reach out to me directly at

Comment From Hemant: Is a step-by-step approach for moving from on-premise ECC 6.0 to S/4HANA Business Suite recommended or a big bang sort of move to HANA and S/4HANA Business Suite (on premise or in cloud)? What are the approximate timelines for each approach?

Brian Burke: There is a step-by-step approach as well as a few other different options. Some customers are doing a new, greenfield implementation of S/4HANA. Some are doing a multi-step transition. Doing either in the cloud makes sense, especially for a new implementation.

The timelines are going to depend on things like size, scope, and so on. The best thing to do is to have someone like IBM figure it out with you.

Comment From Juan: How many customers do you have in the consumer packaged goods (CPG), food, or baking industry that are already using SAP HANA in the cloud or on premise? Can you provide examples from the CPG, food, or baking industry and elaborate on the projects — how long have they been up, users, and so on? What were the major challenges?

Brian Burke: Since CPG is one of the most popular industries for SAP solutions, a significant amount of customers are using HANA. The latest data we have shows that about 50% of HANA implementations are being done in the cloud. There are many variables a client needs to think about. This is especially true when looking at a production environment. For example, many large customers may want to do production HANA on premise as they may already have the hardware and infrastructure already purchased. From a production standpoint, you also have to look at mission-critical items like high availability (HA), disaster recovery (DR), backup recovery, security, and so on.

The best way to evaluate on-premise or cloud (or both) is to have someone like IBM come in and do a workshop to outline the options and the pros and cons of each deployment method. The major challenges of doing HANA in the cloud can be the same for almost all industries. However, certain industry requirements like HIPPA, FDA, and so on can cause certain additional evaluation criteria to think about.

Comment From Hemant: Generally, how are the other companies approaching upgrades to S/4HANA? Can you share experiences regarding the move from ECC 6.0?

Brian Burke: Again, that's going to depend on a number of factors. One thing that is occurring, however, is that many S/4HANA  projects — either migrations from ECC or new greenfield implementations of S/4HANA — are starting out on the Cloud.

Not only is this a fast way to get started, but you definitely won't have to go through all the purchasing of hardware, loading of operating system (OS), and so on.

Comment From Catherine: How do we address bandwidth concerns between S/4HANA in cloud and other systems on-premise?

Pandian: There are several network options available from the least expensive to very expensive ones. You can use VPN as well as a dedicated pipe connecting your on-premise to cloud data centers. Another option to consider is to co-host your servers within the cloud data center where your S/4HANA is running.

Comment From Zalina: Could you please give a little bit more detail on the complexity of migrating from HANA to S/4HANA . What major steps are involved, how complex and time consuming they are, and so on?

Brian Burke: I am assuming you are asking about the migration of Business Suite on HANA to S/4HANA. A lot of the complexity of going to S/4HANA really depends on many variables, like functionality needed, integration with other systems, customization, size, and so on.

This is a question that you are better served to discuss in more detail with someone like IBM. I can walk you through the answer if you want to discuss. You can contact me at

Comment From Pauline: What are some options for moving Time Management and Payroll to a cloud solution? It would still need to integrate with other SAP modules, and other third-party solutions that may not be in the cloud.

Pandian: I assume the Time Management and Payroll solutions are traditional SAP HR solutions, not the SuccessFactor ones. They can be moved to the cloud along with other SAP modules. Is there any constraint in running your third-party applications in the cloud as well?

Comment From Tom: What are benefits to HANA tailored data center integration (TDI)?

Brian Burke: I assume you are asking about the benefits of the TDI model for HANA versus the "appliance" model. More and more customers are using the TDI model as it does give you more flexibility from a hardware/infrastructure standpoint.

For example, TDI is really the "decoupling" of the appliance, meaning you can use your existing enterprise storage if you want. Of course, you need to make sure that the storage is SAP TDI supported (most are) and more importantly, that you are required to run the "SAP HANA hardware configuration check tool (HWCCT)” before you go live. The SAP HANA hardware configuration check tool is the SAP tool that ensures your TDI setup adheres to all the key performance indicators (KPIs) that SAP sets.

The appliance model, of course, is already SAP certified out of the box, but it cannot be changed. So, TDI is great if you want the flexibility of using what you already have and you are OK with handling the architecture design with help from IBM or another hardware vendor. Also, almost all HANA cloud providers are using TDI.

Comment From Guest: What mandatory functional components of SAP ERP must I have before being eligible for migration?

Brian Burke: There is a list from SAP of things that must be done prior to a migration to S/4HANA. I assume this is what you are asking? For example, as you probably know, there are certain levels you need to be at of ECC and so on.

Most of the migrations from a functional standpoint are looking at the functions you need to keep from ECC and which ones are going to already be in S/4HANA.

Comment From Cathy:   Can we migrate to S/4HANA directly from ECC 6 regardless of EhP we're in? If not, what is the recommended EhP before migrating to S/4HANA? Can you provide input on how to better prepare for the migration to S/4HANA?

Pandian: I suggest using the software update manager (SUM) tool from SAP. It will automatically upgrade your traditional SAP and migrates it to S/4HANA.

Comment From Eddie: Can you share particulars on how HANA improves on financials reporting and also audit requirements?

Pandian: Your question is very specific and I need to send it to my expert on HANA financials. Can you please send me an email at with your questions?

Comment From Guest: How many retailers have migrated from the industry solution (IS) Retail Suite on HANA to the next-generation of IS Retail on S/4HANA? What is the name in the "SAP S/4HANA Line of Business Solutions" portfolio?

Brian Burke: That's a great question that you probably need to ask directly from SAP. As a part of S/4HANA, the Retail industry solution I believe is in the next planned release. It may be in the 1610 release...but I'm not sure. That's really up to SAP.

Comment From Hemant: If we are moving from ECC 6.0 on NetWeaver to S/4HANA Business Suite and have some level of customizations as well as many point-to-point integrations (mainly file transfer), what should be the approach? For instance, a staggered approach like from ECC 6.0 to S/4HANA Business Suite on NetWeaver 7.5 to S/4HANA Business Suite on HANA platform (on-premise) and then finally S/4HANA Business Suite in the cloud.

Brian Burke: Great question though it may need more time than this forum. However, let me try. You almost have to look at your question in 2 parts:

  1. The migration to S/4HANA
  2. The migration to the cloud

The best way to analyze how to move to S/4HANA is via the tools that SAP and its partners like IBM use. We have found that many customizations in ECC over many years aren't even needed anymore or S/4HANA  takes care of that business functionality. Some customers are doing that step of ECC to Business Suite on HANA then S/4HANA. Business Suite on HANA is the intermediary step. This is really something that you need to sit down and look at the functionality you have, what you think you need, and what S/4HANA provides.

Regarding the cloud migration, that's easier as you can migrate to the cloud regardless. So, we have customers who are moving a copy of ECC to the Cloud, while continuing to run ECC production on -premise, then they are doing all their migration work in the Cloud , even to S4. this is a very low risk way to do it.

If you want to discuss in more detail, contact me at

Comment From Guest: How do you persuade a current customer that’s running an SAP ERP system to quickly move to S/4HANA?

Pandian: It depends on how well we communicate the value proposition and return on investment (ROI) and at the same time how well S/4HANA can meet all their existing and future requirements. Considering the investment the customers have made in the past to implement SAP, there will certainly be a hesitation to move to S/4HANA.

Comment From Pauline: Time Management and Payroll are traditional on-premise SAP HR. Is it best practice to move those with other modules to S/4HANA  and integrate from there to SuccessFactors Talent Management? Or move the Time Management and Payroll to SuccessFactors Employee Central and integrate back to other modules on S/4HANA?

Pandian: Can you email me your question directly at so that I can reach out to my HR expert and get back to you?

Comment From Ravi: What are the security concerns to consider when deploying S/4HANA in the cloud?

Brian Burke: You really need to ensure that the cloud provider adheres to all the security compliance requirements that you may have. From an IBM Cloud perspective, our security is based on many requirements including Federal, other country, and so on.

In fact, the IBM Cloud has been found to be more secure than many on-premise installations. Remember, that one of the benefits of cloud is that the cloud provider takes on the security tools,

Matthew Shea: Thanks again for some great questions today. We have time for a few more posts before we wrap up the Q&A. 

Comment From Guest: Can you give advice for sizing environments? What methodologies and tools can be used?

Pandian: We use the sizing tools provided by SAP and that’s the best way to go. There is extensive information available on the SAP website as well as in knowledge forum.

Comment From Guest: What is the “Central Journal” option for S/4HANA? Is it available in a cloud deployment? Is it a preferred way to experience a hybrid cloud landscape?

Brian Burke: Are you referring to S/4HANA  “Universal Journal"? If so, that's the functional aspect of S/4HANA Finance. It is available in the cloud edition or better yet the on-premise, which you can also run in the cloud. I'm not sure I understand your question.

Comment From Guest: Can you provide advice for negotiating service level agreements (SLAs)? What needs to be included that may not be obvious?

Pandian: The key SLAs are:

  1. SAP application availability
  2. SAP application response time
  3. Resolution time for sev 1 tickets on production systems

These are key SLAs; please ensure your partner or cloud provider includes SLA for all the above.

Comment From Mike: We’re having a little confusion about S/4HANA; it seems it is defined as SAP Business Suite on HANA. Can we say it is S/4HANA for all three types of implementation?

Brian Burke: Think of it this way: Business Suite on HANA is really ECC using the HANA database instead of a traditional relational database management system (RDBMS). Most of the functionality is the same as ECC on a traditional database. You do get some benefits, like speed, performance, and so on. It's also a good intermediate step to S/4HANA, if you desire.

S/4HANA is a complete rewrite of the SAP code. It's simplified almost everything as well as really enhanced functionality. All new functionality is being written with S/4HANA.

S/4HANA is really the platform   of the future for SAP customers. Not only does it shrink your overall SAP footprint, but it also uses Fiori, IoT, Big Data, and so on.

If you want to walk through more of the details, please contact me

Comment From Guest: I had a colleague mention "IBM Start-Up Bundles" on a call. What are start-up bundles?

Pandian: Start-up bundles are pre-installed S/4HANA solutions that can be made available from IBM within 3 to 5 days from ordering. IBM manages all OS, database, and applications layers so customers need not worry about infrastructure management aspects and focus only on what they want to do. Typically customers use this for a quick development and testing on S/4HANA.

Matthew Shea: Thanks to everyone who participated in today’s Q&A. And thank you to Brian and Pandian for your time and for your insightful answers.

You can review the Q&A chat replay at any time, and I will alert you  by email when the transcript of today’s discussion is posted. 

For more on this topic, watch Brian and Pandian's recent webinar “best practices for implementing SAP S/4HANA in the cloud.” You can also read Brian's book SAP in the Cloud: An Executive Guide.

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