All About the Cloud from SAP

All About the Cloud from SAP
The cloud is the next stage in the development of information technology, following the rise of the internet in the 1990s and smartphoneization in the first decade of the 21st century. According to a Gartner survey, up to 51% of IT companies will be using the cloud in 2025, compared to 41% in 2022. However, the cloud is still controversial. Can a public solution address the specific needs of a particular enterprise? That’s Hanna Dziubińska-Kopka talked about with SAP Basis Expert Paweł Pawełkiewicz, a Hicron Consultant.
You will find a transcript of the conversation below.

Date: 10.05.2023

Interviewees: Hanna Dziubińska-Kopka and Paweł Pawełkiewicz

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Transcription: summary

Read the entire conversation or click on the selected topic and go to the issue you are interested in.


Why do entrepreneurs want to invest in the cloud?
Hanka Dziubińska-Kopka: Paweł, why might entrepreneurs want to invest in the cloud?

Paweł Pawełkiewicz: To answer this question, let me start with the most important product on the market, i.e. S/4HANA Cloud. This is SAP's flagship solution, which is primarily a service, and we all know that services are here to stay. Companies have noticed this trend when shifting responsibility, including maintenance of infrastructure, which is one of the biggest challenges for a company with an ERP system at its core. If infrastructure is not updated on a regular basis, not maintained and technically verified as to whether it is operational, it can cause problems in the future. And this may compromise business continuity.
Companies started outsourcing infrastructure maintenance to hosting providers quite some time ago because they saw a lot of potential in terms of maintaining business continuity. SAP went a few steps further. It offered its clients an SAP systems maintenance service. From now on, companies do not need to focus on maintaining local SAP teams.
Maintenance needs to be understood as retraining teams and keeping them up to date with the latest trends.By outsourcing this to a service such as S/4HANA Cloud, you are assured primarily of the quality and access to state-of-the-art solutions.
SAP offers two models for these solutions. The first is SaaS, Software as a Service, which is a typical service and it takes a heavy load off the client's shoulders.
The second model is Managed Services, in which the client, or their designated partner, actually has more to do, i.e. verify all products each time: if they are still available and covered by the manufacturer's support; the client has to upload security updates and patches, which is very important nowadays, and this takes time.And time also means cost on the part of the client.
Outsourcing tego typu usługi do S4/HANA So by outsourcing this type of service to S/4HANA Cloud, the client can be sure that the next stage, the next block of their business, is in very good hands. That it is taken care of.
The distinction between public and private cloud
Hanka Dziubińska-Kopka: We mentioned that shifting to the cloud is an important decision for entrepreneurs, but then of course there are further questions and decisions to be made. Cloud migration is one thing, but then there's the question which cloud to choose.

Paweł Pawełkiewicz: The most important distinction is probably this: either public or private cloud.

Hanka Dziubińska-Kopka: What do these options mean and what are the differences?

Paweł Pawełkiewicz: PFirst of all, we need to clarify the terminology, because clients very often refer to S/4HANA Public Cloud and differentiate it between Public and Private, and it is getting confusing. Many clients felt that if something is public it is simply unsafe, hence the decision to opt for the name S/4HANA Cloud, which is the public version, and S/4HANA Cloud Private Edition, which is the private version. We will use these names to refer to the public and private version respectively. Moving on to the differences, the most important difference, looking from the client's perspective, is the service delivery model.
Unavailability windows and system updating
Paweł Pawełkiewicz: In the Software as a Service model clients receive comprehensive support and assistance. The services they could have access to are regularly performed by SAP. This is because, at the very beginning of contract conclusion, clients are obliged to specify predetermined windows of system unavailability. This would seem difficult, but life shows quite the opposite, that is clients who cannot answer this question at the very beginning of any SAP implementation later have a problem in defining any windows of unavailability, so you can already see a huge benefit of this type of approach.

Hanka Dziubińska-Kopka: And why are the windows needed?

Paweł Pawełkiewicz: The windows are needed so that systems can be updated. A company may think it has to operate 24/7, but it turns out it doesn't have to. All it needs to do is to tweak its operating procedures to make the SAP system, in this case, primarily secure. With these windows, in the SaaS model, i.e. in the public cloud version, SAP ensures that every patch and security package released is uploaded on an ongoing basis.Of course, only security patches previously tested by SAP on its internal systems are uploaded. Also, whenever new versions are released, SAP ensures that they are updated on a regular basis. Components are upgraded even as often as twice a year. From my experience, I can say that, unfortunately, in most companies that are built on the on-premise model, such upgrades are done, say, once every couple of years.
In the second model, which is the Managed Services model, i.e. the private cloud, the client has a catalogue of services at their disposal. It's built on the basis of a document of 1,400 lines where individual tasks are listed and clients may order them, but they don't have to.
Now, going back to the first point we talked about, that is windows of unavailability, the client in a way may have a block, or mental resistance to defining these windows of unavailability. At that point, the preference shifts towards on-premise solutions, which means it goes in the wrong direction and it turns out that after a couple of years the system is full of holes. It is based on components that may no longer be supported. And the worst thing is that it's not innovative at all because it's based on old solutions. And in the meantime, much better, much more efficient, and much more optimized solutions were launched.
SAP Cloud Security
Hanka Dziubińska-Kopka: So in short, the fact that the cloud is called public cloud has nothing to do with the fact that data is made public in any way, and the issue of security is taken very seriously.

Paweł Pawełkiewicz: Definitely. In an effort to foster trust on the part of future clients, SAP has built five layers of protection around client data, based on a model of segregation of duties, i.e. building appropriate roles depending on who should have access to a particular functionality. The next layer of applications are all Web Dispatchers, Cloud Connectors, which are signed with certificates. This ensures that communication is encrypted. The next layer is the network layer, that is site-to-site tunnels. We are talking about direct access, or Direct Connect, which is a novelty. The next layer is the operational layer, i.e. patching the system. PPatching also refers to uploading current security patches, which is what clients now have to do themselves or through their SAP partners when the so-called patch day comes and the latest threats are announced, and solutions to these latest threats are issued immediately. Imagine how much time it would take if a company had to do it on its own.
Over this layer, there is very challenging work, namely auditing the security of this data. The main certifications that are regularly carried out by SAP include ISO 27001, ISO 9001. If a company wanted to go about the certifications single-handedly, it would need its own security division, human resources, regular training, and this would entail time and money.
Moreover, there are also disaster recovery tests that the company regularly conducts. Because from a business perspective, the most relevant information is whether data can be restored in every possible way. Unfortunately, a disaster always strikes at the wrong time when we're simply unprepared. By performing disaster recovery tests, SAP knows that data can be recovered. The data is safe and, importantly, can be restored in 100% without being compromised.
By performing disaster recovery tests, SAP knows that data can be recovered. The data is safe and, importantly, can be restored in 100% without being compromised. Few companies, let alone clients  who would need IT departments bigger than their entire organizations  are able to build such robust solutions and test them on an ongoing basis.
It's not that you build a solution and forget about it for five years. In order to make it work, it is necessary to carry out tests regularly, even a few times a year. As I've said, this is a cost on the part of the client.
RISE WITH SAP – what is it?
Hanka Dziubińska-Kopka: Actually, we just began talking and we already touched upon so many aspects that it is no surprise that the choice between Public and Private still raises questions. That is why, among other things, SAP has launched the RISE with SAP program. What is it?

Paweł Pawełkiewicz:RISE with SAP is a big interconnected ecosystem in the cloud. This is important from the clients' perspective, with one foot in the cloud they can use all the tools available in the RISE with SAP ecosystem via encrypted connections. These connections do not have to go back to the client's on-premise solution and back. The client can securely use any available tool at their discretion, and these are connected vessels. That is important.
BTP Business Technology Platform
Paweł Pawełkiewicz:One of the most important tools from my point of view, as a member of the Basis team, is the Business Technology Platform (BTP), which brings together, for example, data that is accessed through an SAP application, and the data can be processed in a certain way in the client-specific context. Data doesn't have to be processed directly in core S/4HANA and can be processed in the BTP instead. The BTP combines comprehensive analytics and automation in a single environment.
Digital Discovery Assessment – ​​the first of six stages of RISE with SAP
Hanka Dziubińska-Kopka: From what I gathered, the RISE with SAP concept is broken down into 6 steps, that is: Discover, Prepare, Explore, Realize, Deploy and Run. Determining the right option, i.e. the cloud that suits you best, is just the first step. What does this step, the Digital Discovery Assessment, involve?

Paweł Pawełkiewicz: Before I move on to this step, which from my perspective is the most important, we need to mention that these steps did not appear out of the blue.These steps comprise the SAP Activate methodology resulting from the experience of SAP, which has completed a huge number of implementations, learned its lessons and built this model.
This model is based on the assumption that each of these phases is interactive and ends in a certain way with an expected result, and you don't go any further until this result is achieved and when it is achieved, the next phase taps into the benefits of the previous phase, and this is how the whole project can be satisfactorily completed in the allocated time. And what is important is that the intended goal is achieved.
And why am I mentioning this? Because the Digital Discovery Assessment, or DDA, is, in my opinion, the most important point in this whole path, because if we make a wrong decision at the very beginning, it is impossible to reach the initial goal. That is the foundation. That's what it's all about, because if we don't treat this seriously, we can end up surprised if the end result is not what we bargained for. This, again, means time and money that you unnecessarily spent. So it involves a huge amount of work and you need to be honest with yourself during the assessment. Because the DDA is one big assessment and one big question asked. Now, let's answer the question: is the client ready to enter the S/4HANA Cloud, that is the so-called public version? Will the client unfortunately, I'll come back to this in a second, opt for the S/4HANA private version? The public cloud seems the most modern option, but we still have the private cloud. We also have on-premise solutions.
Private and on premise - for who
Hanka Dziubińska-Kopka: Tell me, are there any businesses for which these other two options are actually more cost-effective?

Paweł Pawełkiewicz: Definitely yes, although the term cost-effective doesn't quite fit here. Because it needs to be made clear that a company that opts for the public version of the cloud will opt for a solution that is cheaper in terms of the costs incurred.This solution is better prepared because of the aforementioned industry best practices. But there are companies that will answer "no" to all the questions at the DDA stage, that the public cloud does not meet their requirements and they need to go to the private cloud, or S/4HANA Private Cloud Edition. TThis is not a bad thing, it is a very good solution. Of course, a lot of companies opt for this solution, but I would compare it, simplifying this slightly, to a de facto on-premise solution. Now, SAP is, in a way, a hosting provider for us, except that we are returning to the model we mentioned, i.e. Managed Services, in which we, as a partner, or the client, if it has its own SAP team, outsources tasks to SAP.
This is where the magic file comes in, that is Roles and Responsibilities, the most important file in this model, containing 1,400 lines from which the client, or partner, regularly selects the services they need. And that involves the knowledge, expertise and experience in terms of what to use. The list features primarily specialized language used in the industry and you have to know when to use particular services listed.
You also have to plan the windows of unavailability that I mentioned, but it is still definitely an attractive option, looking from the perspective of on-premise or S/4HANA Cloud, I would go for S/4HANA Cloud Private Edition.

Hanka Dziubińska-Kopka: And tell me, which points in the DDA are so crucial that, in the case of a negative answer, a company should choose the Private Cloud?

Paweł Pawełkiewicz:Sure, this becomes clear very quickly at the stage of selecting processes. If we choose processes that are critical for us and the model of this business process offered by SAP does not meet our requirements, our business objective, then the result at the very end of this assessment is: welcome to the private cloud.
What is important is that SAP does not leave it just like that because after every assessment, every result is also reviewed by an SAP architect, who makes a manual or mental, if you will, calculation as to whether he or she is able to offer the client a substitute of this process. He or she can tell the client that there are other processes, there are other modules or additional tools that may be used to build a particular process, and still invite the client to the public cloud.
Please keep in mind that S/4HANA Cloud, the public version, is an ERP solution that is based on industry best practices that SAP has developed over the years.
Verifying customer needs
Hanka Dziubińska-Kopka: Well, I've heard that it's common for clients to think that their processes are so unique and specific, as if tailor-made for their company, that they won't find that in the SAP catalogue, and it's at this stage that it's verified.

Paweł Pawełkiewicz: Yes, it is verified at this stage.Logging into this tool, that is with access to the S-User, the client may choose among all these available best industry practices.

Hanka Dziubińska-Kopka: How many are there?

Paweł Pawełkiewicz: There are a lot of them, and the most important task for the client is to objectively choose the business processes that are aligned with the expected end result and, first and foremost, reflect their business. This is one thing.
The second thing is prioritizing and choosing the most important processes. When the client knows that some processes may be slightly tweaked and if the client is ready for this change, they do not deliberately choose a high priority, because this will simply distort the result.
So depending on the expected outcome, the client should approach the exercise that way. Because, in a way, this exercise will answer the client's question as to whether they're ready for a change, and to me that's a very good change, because if you want to grow as a company, the world is your oyster, because you will always be ahead of others.
The role of a partner and consultant at the DDA stage in RISE with SAP
Hanka Dziubińska-Kopka: Is the DDA, i.e. this first stage of RISE with SAP, an integral part of the whole RISE with SAP process, or can it also be treated as a separate part?

Paweł Pawełkiewicz: It can be treated as a separate part because you can go back to it many times. The simplest example is that today, a company that is starting out and, mind you, rarely does any company approach this exercise alone, so at this point it also involves an SAP partner who has the expertise enabling them to ask the client good questions, because the client, when confronted with the tool, may be out of ideas and questions.
It is our role as an experienced partner to ask the right questions. So that the client can answer them well in this exercise, in line with the goal that they are aiming to achieve.

Hanka Dziubińska-Kopka: And your role, as an SAP Basis Expert Consultant, is to ask these questions, right?

Paweł Pawełkiewicz: Definitely. We are responsible for asking those questions, in addition to questions in the DDA, and for making sure if the client has been verified in a certain way and whether the client is ready for this type of project.This is where you have to focus on the fact that clients who already have their local IT team think they are ready. Ask them specific questions about whether they are ready to face tasks and whether his team will be able to deliver the expected results. The first vertical that will be affected during a project of this type is IT. One of the main tasks before moving on to implementation, is to establish a connection with this magic cloud. And it is at this point, that the IT team not only needs the knowledge, i.e. it has to be properly certified and trained, it also needs, above all, the infrastructure to be able to establish this type of connection.
And here, if the answer is “no”, the client can use an external company from the outset. And in my opinion, this is a very good step, because first of all, the local IT team can focus on the day-to-day support of the users, and we know that local users encounter multiple issues with IT systems which need immediate attention. Given their immense workload, by outsourcing this kind of solution to partners who have prior experience in handling these tasks on a daily basis ensures that not only will it be executed in accordance with good practices, but also in a timely manner.

Hanka Dziubińska-Kopka: Can Hicron be such a partner?

Paweł Pawełkiewicz: Hicron can and has been such a partner many times in projects of this type.
Let's go back to the notion of time, which is significant in this context. Imagine SAP providing us with the requested completed environment in just 4 weeks. From the moment the architect determines how these cloud systems are to be built, SAP delivers them exactly in 4 weeks. And the company, I'm already talking about a client who will have access to this system, must have a site-to-site connection established.
Also, if this implementation is done with a partner, the partner must have access to the cloud. And there is another question that the client must answer. Dear client, how do you plan to let us into this cloud to help you?
These questions need to be answered right at the beginning so that we don't waste time, because SAP is really delivering this product and any delay caused by not having answered these questions beforehand, postpones the project delivery date.
Infrastructure for cloud implementation projects
Hanka Dziubińska-Kopka: So there are questions about the people, the IT team, and the infrastructure. What do you mean by infrastructure?

Paweł Pawełkiewicz:Clients must first of all be ready, for example if their business involves primarily manufacturing, they need at least scanners. They need to have the infrastructure ready, that is, they need to have scanners that are aligned with the currently prevailing technology in scanners, i.e. ITS Mobile. It's a browser-based technology based on the uWiFi technology, and we need scanners that support that technology.
The client needs printers that are SAP-certified so that they are compatible and the printouts are correct. Fortunately, SAP keeps track of which printers are certified and there are downloadable drivers that, quite simply, work.
Availability of an implementation partner, BASIS and modular teams
Paweł Pawełkiewicz: Also, you have a partner available who can offer assistance. And talking about the availability of a partner, the necessary teams during implementation have to be mentioned, i.e. Basis teams, or one Basis team and a modular team. And now, rarely does a client have the entire package of Basis and modular teams in-house, for instance because of costs, certification and retraining of employees, therefore, outsourcing has been a popular alternative for a while now. At this stage, the client also needs to know which partner they want to choose for a particular implementation or cloud migration.
And here, Hicron is definitely a good choice, because we have a lot of experts on every module in our portfolio and we always send experts to this type of projects in the first place. And we do this so that the effect and the goal are achieved very quickly. Because, unfortunately, there are companies on the market that are able to provide similar services, but not at the same level of quality.
The role of a partner and consultant – continued
Hanka Dziubińska-Kopka: You said that your role in this whole process is to ask the client the right questions. That sounded quite philosophical, but I assume that you also have other tasks.

Paweł Pawełkiewicz: Of course, I also have technical tasks. This is a different model than on-premise implementation, where I actually do all the technical work, including building the infrastructure, and by building I mean drawing its structure, on a blank sheet of paper so to speak, choosing the software, the products, configuring everything and making sure it is secure and functional. I select services from the Roles and Responsibilities file that was mentioned, knowing the model that was built by the architect, aiming to have the SAP systems built in the way that was specified when that architecture was being built. And looking at this file, I have a choice of standard services, which are basic tasks, but there are also services that the client or we, as a partner, can perform, and this is also the technical part that I will perform by ordering this service, in cooperation with SAP in delivering this particular configuration. There are also tasks that we, as partners, cannot perform. It is so important that each time before performing an operation, one should verify, preferably knowing the whole file by heart, whether we can do it at all, whether the license allows us to touch a given product.
As the person who supports the whole project from the technical side, as a partner, I have a lot of work to do. I support the client in their decisions and choices, but I also participate in building the whole solution.
Stages after moving to the cloud, quitting the cloud
Hanka Dziubińska-Kopka: They say the sky is the limit, but SAP is prepared for the next cloud stages. Tell us more about that.

Paweł Pawełkiewicz: Sure, this is where SAP comes in, with its S/4HANA Cloud product, whether public or private, to dispel the doubts of clients who fear that once they go into the cloud, they have to stay there forever. Well, no, they don't have to stay there at all, because the entire core, the engine on which S/4HANA Cloud is built, is a standard engine.
And at that point, if a client has been in the cloud for a number of years and, for a reason unbeknownst to me, decides to leave the cloud, and doesn't see all the advantages that I've mentioned so far, they can ask to have their data exported from the HANA database and can recreate their media, for instance at some hosting provider. A hosting provider can build new infrastructure, get everything ready and the client can go back to the so-called classic on-premise model.

Hanka Dziubińska-Kopka: That is, they can pack their cloud.

Paweł Pawełkiewicz: They can pack up their cloud, take it with them and just go wherever they want. For me, this is a significant advantage that companies should consider if hesitant about trying out the cloud.I'm talking about giving it a try, because there is a way back. And you know, if you don't try, you don't know whether it's going to be better or worse. And I am in favor of that, looking from the perspective of what we have accomplished so far here at Hicron. It is definitely only getting better.
The client's role in implementation, preparation for changes
Hanka Dziubińska-Kopka: We've talked about the questions the client is faced with, but the client also has to answer the question what their role in this project will be.

Paweł Pawełkiewicz: Yes. Definitely. This is one of the questions I always ask during the first conversations with the client: does the client know what their tasks will be? And very often clients think they will get a system and that's it. But they don't. Throughout the implementation phase, which can take a year or two or less, if the underlying assumptions are fairly straightforward, the client first and foremost has to build the organization’s awareness of the change. There is a very simple tendency noticeable among employees who have very long seniority in the organization. Employees with more seniority tend to be accustomed to working on a specific system. I'm not even saying that they used to work on an SAP system, or on some dedicated ERP system, where they would, say, make five clicks and get some result. Now even 20 clicks may be needed. But they will stop at this point, because this will mean more work; there will be a change. They used to come and do their work in a mindless way. Now they will have to think. The role of the client is to build awareness that better results will be achieved this way. Because it's not how many clicks you make that counts, it's what results you get, what results the organization gets.
Looking from the perspective of the model, the model that the client chooses, whether they opt for S/4HANA Cloud or to the private version, in the public version the client initiates a major change, but I think that the change is not bad. And if it is a change for the better, then clients should definitely go that way if they want to stay afloat. There is a tendency that companies that do not develop simply disappear from the market.
This so-called public solution is based on, as I said, industry best practices. So, the client needs to make the whole workforce aware that changes are coming, but these will be changes for the better.
Moving to the cloud is the future and that future is already here. This trend accelerated significantly during lockdown when companies actually had to move to the cloud. And it will continue to grow. .
Cloud solutions and business continuity
Hanka Dziubińska-Kopka: Tell me, after this lockdown boom, does the cloud still raise some doubts or questions? Are Polish entrepreneurs afraid of cloud solutions?

Paweł Pawełkiewicz: Definitely no. I have observed a trend where clients are requesting cloud solutions more frequently because they want them. Unfortunately, they can't always have them, because they are not ready for this change, hence the conversation about whether they and the organization are ready for the change. But definitely the lockdowns supported the development of cloud solutions. For me, the most important example is maintaining business continuity, because we have repeatedly seen interruptions in business precisely because of a lack of human resources. With a cloud solution in place, SAP has support departments scattered all over the world. With a cloud solution in place, SAP has support departments scattered all over the world. They are not limited to a single location. This is how they can support a particular business any time of the day or night. This is very important. Therefore, as I said, the SLA they offer of close to 100% is really very, very high.
Another element is the construction of the Data Center. SAP chooses strategic locations for its Data Centers. The simplest example is power supply. They never rely on a single power supplier. They prioritize diversity to ensure that in the event of power outages, regardless of the reasons, they can still continue their clients' business operations. And ultimately, that's their top priority.

Hanka Dziubińska-Kopka: Wygląda na to, że wybór odpowiedniej chmury to kluczowa kwestia przy transformacji biznesu. They are still able to keep the whole SAP system available for the client .It seems that choosing the right cloud is a key issue in business transformation.

Paweł Pawełkiewicz: Definitely

Hanka Dziubińska-Kopka: Thank you very much for dispelling our doubts. Thank you. Stay tuned for the next episode of HiTalks.

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