Co-authored by Robert Madl 

Many SAP customers are migrating their business process workloads and applications to SAP S/4HANA® running in the cloud. This is no wonder, considering the cloud’s numerous benefits along with standard SAP support for ECC ending in 2027. This journey can include first conducting a “lift & shift” of current SAP environments to the cloud and then upgrading to S/4HANA.

Especially for very large SAP customers, migrating to the cloud is a multi-year process likely involving dozens to hundreds of projects. For example, 3M began a migration to S/4HANA and AWS in 2018 and currently estimates that they will complete the journey in 2025.

To help our mutual customers along these journeys, Cisco and SAP have been working together for several years. From this experience, I’d like to briefly share four fundamental best practices to help ensure the solid performance of your SAP systems and the business processes implemented across your SAP and non-SAP systems:

  1. Get your network cloud-ready
  2. Manage and optimize your hybrid landscape
  3. Ensure SAP application performance
  4. Add visibility into the Internet

Get your network cloud-ready

When planning to move workloads to the cloud, you must first prepare your network for cloud connectivity, essentially connecting your datacenter to the cloud.

This is where the Cisco SD-WAN Cloud On-ramp offering comes into play. Put simply, SD-WAN Cloud On-ramp provides the foundation to connect your private datacenter with cloud providers.

Figure 1: Networking needs to evolve to support cloud apps

As seen in Figure 1, cloud networking is different from traditional networking. For instance, traditional on-premises networking implements technologies such as IPsec/Firewalls, load balancing, NetFlow and QoS. On the other hand, cloud networking uses technologies that allow for workload flexibility, including cloud connectivity automation, micro-segmentation, application policies and app autoscaling.

Manage and optimize your hybrid landscape

No one migrates all their SAP processes from on-premises to S/4HANA running in the cloud all at once. Rather, SAP customers typically migrate the least mission-critical apps first and add apps over time. And some customers might not migrate to the cloud at all, but rather stay with on-premises gear deployed in co-location, provider datacenters. The net-net is that customers are often running hybrid cloud environments.

To help simplify IT operations, Cisco Intersight provides a SaaS hybrid cloud operations platform that enables IT to streamline and manage hybrid cloud environments—including traditional on-premises, cloud-native, and hybrid IT infrastructure and resources—from a single platform.

Cisco Intersight supports the Cisco Unified Computing System™ (Cisco UCS®) and Cisco HyperFlex™hyperconverged infrastructure, Cisco® networking platforms, virtualization and container platforms, third-party servers and storage, public-cloud platforms and services, and other integration endpoints.

Included in this list are two converged infrastructures: FlexPod with NetApp and Flashstack with Pure Storage. Both offerings are popular, rock-solid platforms that Fortune 500 businesses have relied on to run their SAP landscapes for many years. Both options provide all-flash solutions to accelerate SAP applications at scale.

Ensure SAP application performance

From a user perspective, a slow-performing application is almost as bad as a complete outage. If the ecommerce experience is slow, for instance, customers can be very quick to shop elsewhere. In addition, given many customer SAP environments have grown over the years, companies often don’t have a good handle on application dependencies.

This is where Cisco AppDynamics Monitoring for SAP Solutions shines. AppDynamics provides real-time visibility into the application performance before, during, and after a migration or upgrade. With the advent of custom dashboards, you can develop a comparative analysis, contrasting side-by-side production and canary deployments (also known as a version release dashboard). This helps to quickly mitigate risks and address impacts before users are migrated to the new deployment or changes are implemented within the production environment. By leveraging AI and ML to understand what “normal” behavior is and setting baselines to understand anomalies, AppDynamics helps IT staff to spend more time focused and aligned on achieving business outcome objectives rather than on issue resolution.

Figure 2: Basic AppDynamics Application Flow Map sample

Through AppDynamics’ visualization and dependency auto-detection capabilities, you can know which systems to migrate to the cloud in groups, so you don’t introduce unneeded latency making calls between on-premises and cloud infrastructure. In fact, AppDynamics provides flow maps of the entire landscape that include both SAP and non-SAP applications, along with application context into end-to-end transactions to help visualize issues on a flow map.

In addition, AppDynamics is the only APM offering on the market with an ABAP agent. AppDynamics supports SAP Java and ABAP stack to provide code-level visibility, helping with root-cause analysis and reducing mean time to recover. And with the AppDynamics BusinessIQ feature, you can build dashboards visualizing your own business processes, correlate business performance metrics with IT performance metrics to prioritize remediating issues impacting the business, and better align with your organization’s overall business objectives.

Add visibility into the Internet

Figure 3: The internet creates blind spots

Once SAP applications are running in the cloud, a new challenge emerges: Suddenly, a network that you don’t control (i.e., the Internet) with no guaranteed SLA exists between your users and your SAP systems. If user experiences are suffering from, say, an outage somewhere over the Internet, without visibility into your SAP user traffic, you’re often forced into an escalated, time- and resource-consuming war room trying to identify and remediate the issue.

Figure 4: ThousandEyes provides visibility into the Internet

To address this challenge, Cisco ThousandEyes provides an entirely new category of application, essentially providing visibility into the Internet. And so even though you don’t own and control the Internet or cloud provider networks, with ThousandEyes you gain visibility into them as if you do.

In summary, migrating to S/4HANA and the cloud at the same time can be extremely challenging. The good news is that Cisco and SAP have partnered for years with the ultimate objective of helping you succeed along this journey.


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Jeremy Sawyer

Senior Director, Cloud Technology and Software

Global Strategic Partner Organization