Are you considering moving to the AWS Cloud? If so, you’re not alone: estimates suggest that,Through 2017, 40% of most organizations' IT budgets will be allocated for spending on cloud and cloud-related services. Through 2017, 80% of organizations will increase their IT spending on cloud services, despite moderate increases in overall IT spending.  (Gartner, Forecast Overview: Public Cloud Services, Worldwide, 2016 Update, 17 February 2016, Ed Anderson, Sid Nag  And in its 2016 Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infra structure as a Service, Worldwide 03 August 2016, Lydia Leong et al., Gartner placed Amazon Web Services (AWS) in the “Leaders” quadrant for the sixth consecutive year.

But if you’re like many companies looking to move to the cloud, you may be facing a dilemma. If your IT landscape is built on infrastructure-intensive platforms like SAP, you may be concerned about making a compelling business case for moving to the AWS Cloud due to the perceived cost of managing all of that infrastructure. 

Sound familiar? It’s a question regularly being asked by enterprises as they seek to take advantage of the cloud and cloud-ready ERP like SAP S/4HANA to streamline operations, reduce costs, and increase agility in order to become more competitive. I regularly have conversations with clients who are used to having all of their SAP infrastructure available to them all of the time and are concerned that running all this infrastructure 24/7 on the cloud will be too costly to justify.

My response to these clients is that you absolutely can save money by migrating SAP environments to the AWS Cloud. We recommend moving SAP environments to the cloud for exactly that reason. But moving to the cloud isn’t enough – it needs to be accompanied by a change in mindset. That’s because the key to getting value (and saving money) from migrating SAP to the AWS Cloud, or any cloud, is changing your operating model so rather than having all infrastructure available to you at all times, you determine your usage patterns and only pay for what you use. For many companies this is a big cultural shift and isn’t easy to conceptualize. There are a lot of questions to be answered: What do I need? How often do I need it? How to I plan for spikes in demand?

The key is to find the right formula that corresponds to usage patterns and then automate from there. Why pay for a service round-the-clock when you only need it at certain times? That’s the beauty of the cloud model. In fact, we often recommend that all non-production environments run for no more than 50% of the month, so instead of a 24 x 7 model, we recommend a 5 x 18 model, which can lead to significant cost savings. For example, we helped one company move all of its training environments to the cloud, which were only used 25% of the year. This cut infrastructure costs in half.

Even production SAP workloads can benefit from the elastic capacity provided by AWS.  We’ve found that SAP environments often follow a predictable usage pattern -- weekly, monthly and quarterly – which allows us to create a model for an environment that can scale in a scheduled manner to meet these peaks in usage. Examples of this would be increasing the number of application servers to meet requirements of nightly batch cycles or scaling up an Supply Chain environment to support the Material Requirements Planning (MRP) process. 

So, can the AWS Cloud really cut down the costs of your infrastructure-intensive SAP landscape? The answer is yes, but it’s all about optimizing your operating model.

For more information about migrating SAP workloads to the AWS Cloud, click here.

(About the author: Jason Hatch is a principal at Capgemini. This post originally appeared on his Capgemini blog, which can be viewed here).

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