The modern, cloud-based digital economy presents a strong lure for modern companies. Business leaders and analysts salivate over the promise of real-time business insights from Internet of Things (IoT) data merged with corporate big data, and they know that SAP HANA offers a clear goal for delivering on that promise.

CIOs and IT managers want nothing more than to turn the digital-transformation dream into reality, but they don’t have the luxury of dumping buckets of cash on new infrastructure. The unfortunate reality is that most of a CIO’s budget is committed to just maintaining legacy, mission-critical applications and databases. That doesn’t leave much money for investing in new initiatives to support a digital transformation.

Even if CIOs had unlimited budgets, they’d still have non-trivial technical challenges to overcome to modernize infrastructure. It’s no small task for businesses to migrate to cloud-based systems, like the SAP HANA Cloud Platform, while continuing to support all the current systems and structured databases that employees rely on.

Given the fiscal and technical hurdles, how can forward-thinking businesses ever modernize?

Careful Planning Is Half the Battle

For most companies, the ultimate goals for digital transformation are to enable:

  • Real-time big-data analytics through in-memory platforms, like SAP Business Suite 4 SAP HANA (SAP S/4HANA)
  • Agile IT services for developing and deploying SAP cloud-native apps

The road to achieving these goals begins with setting and prioritizing key outcomes. For example, we already discussed IT cost limitations. That means digital transformation can’t rely on a blank check. Businesses need to ensure that any potential solution helps consolidate, automate, and simplify IT to lower infrastructure costs and increase the productivity of IT staff. New solutions should reduce the costs of supporting and managing diverse, siloed IT resources.

Another priority is to ensure that any potential solution can be integrated with existing operations and IT architecture in order to make use of existing processes, tools, and expertise. It’s also critical that new systems not only deliver on the promise of running SAP HANA and SAP apps in the cloud, but they also provide support for existing non-SAP HANA systems in the data center. Businesses need to maintain their on-premises systems, even as they transition to developing cloud-native SAP apps.

And finally, for CIOs and IT admins, it’s a given that any potential solution must provide adequate security and compliance in the cloud.

Three Steps to Transforming Your Data Center

Once the key priorities and outcomes are established, the digital-transformation process can begin. To make the migration less daunting and more manageable, IT can address the transition in three distinct phases:

  1. Deploy cloud-enabled infrastructure: IT should begin the migration by deploying a physical-infrastructure foundation for “cloud-ready” virtualized infrastructure. This foundation needs to support a mix of SAP and other workloads in and across data centers in multiple locations, as required by the business.
  2. Enable self-service for SAP software: The second phase is to extend cloud-ready infrastructure to support infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) for SAP software, based on a software-defined data center (SDDC) model. This model allows self-service provisioning of systems, and it enables multi-tenancy, security, and financial transparency for the business.
  3. Run SAP software in a cloud: The third phase is to run SAP software in a cloud to enable IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS). ITaaS offers greater agility for providing self-service, orchestration, and application-lifecycle management for both traditional mission-critical applications and modern, cloud-native applications. ITaaS also gives businesses the power to combine business-generated data with IoT data for near-real-time, big-data analytics.

Simplify the Journey with Converged Infrastructure

For companies just getting started, the first phase alone can be daunting. After all, the physical infrastructure sets the stage for the virtual deployments, software, and applications that follow in phases two and three. There are numerous vendors offering so-called “cloud-ready” infrastructures; cautious IT pros should focus on systems that are engineered, tested, and certified to run SAP HANA, that can also support traditional SAP software, and that can ensure scalability, security, and high availability. For example, Dell EMC provides a portfolio of platforms designed and optimized to run SAP HANA along with traditional SAP applications.

In our research at Prowess, we’ve been impressed by the flexibility offered by Dell EMC VCE Vblock Systems, VCE VxBlock Systems, and VCE VxRack systems for deployment as part of a standard data-center architecture, or for scaling and extending existing infrastructure to remote data centers and locations. In particular, Dell EMC provides CI solutions that are built for high availability and that are designed to support the SAP HANA Tailored Datacenter Integration (TDI) model, which can support mixed workloads. These systems are a great place for many businesses to start their digital-transformation journeys.

For more information on CI options, see the Dell EMC CI web page.

This paper from Dell EMC discusses the benefits of Dell EMC Vblock systems for SAP HANA.

The SAP website has additional information on implementing SAP HANA TDI.

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