How to choose the right SAP managed services provider

30 April 2020 | Ignatius Wong, Director, Product Management (Hybrid Cloud & IT Solutions), CenturyLink Asia Pacific
In the application economy, it is only natural for businesses to migrate critical workloads to the cloud to create an agile IT infrastructure that can be scaled on demand and is accessible on-the-go. To enable this, traditional systems like storage and networking have been replaced by heterogeneous systems, featuring a mix of cloud and virtualization technologies to drive specific outcomes.

The rise of the hybrid cloud infrastructure

Enterprises are increasingly relying on a heterogeneous infrastructure by mixing their own proprietary infrastructures and resources provided by a service operator such as a public or a private cloud computing platform. The Asia Pacific region, specifically, is experiencing a high adoption of the cloud technology.
Naturally, the benefits of the cloud, such as scalability and lower costs also apply to SAP ecosystems. Most public cloud platforms like Azure and AWS have made it very easy for enterprises to run their SAP HANA applications in the cloud. It is also possible to scale the infrastructure up and down, swiftly and on-demand, making AWS and Azure ideal for running memory-intensive applications like SAP HANA. Besides, using a fully managed cloud service means quick application deployment, enabling developers to harness the power of SAP HANA without wasting time in administrative or operational tasks. A cloud-based deployment also allows businesses to enjoy OPEX-based expenditure, constantly up-to-date infrastructure, and seamless scalability among other benefits.
Enterprises are increasingly choosing to migrate their SAP landscapes to public cloud platforms.
Keeping these benefits in mind, it is not surprising that enterprises are increasingly choosing to migrate their SAP landscapes to public cloud platforms like AWS and Azure. However, it is a fact that migrating SAP workloads to the public cloud is a complicated task, which requires time and hefty investments. Managed Service Providers (MSPs) can come handy at this point - by facilitating a smooth transition to the cloud while optimizing costs for enterprises.
According to the Global Market Services Report, managed services providers can facilitate the transformation to the cloud by providing a variety of services like advanced persistent threat (APT), monitoring, and performing scheduled maintenance. Gartner has also predicted a rise in the global market for managed services, especially for managed mobility and information services. According to the source, the successful deployment of managed services can reduce IT cost by 25-45% and increase operational efficiency by 45-65%. This also holds true for deploying, managing and leveraging SAP on the cloud, especially if your organization does not have in-house experts to facilitate and support the task. 

Types of SAP cloud managed services

Let’s look into a brief overview of SAP cloud managed services available in the market.

1. SAP cloud hosting services

Many companies that have been traditionally managing their cloud environment on-premises using AWS or Azure are gradually moving to third-party hosting solutions, to optimize costs and performance. SAP cloud hosting providers take over this job of hosting your SAP landscape in the cloud while monitoring and managing your cloud environment to maximize the performance of your ERP applications.

2. SAP cloud managed services

For growing companies and large organizations, the SAP landscape must evolve and scale rapidly.

For growing companies and large organizations, the SAP landscape must evolve and scale rapidly, according to the business needs of the respective company. Opting for SAP cloud managed services is a smart solution in such cases – as the MSP becomes responsible for keeping SAP running in the cloud while you focus on expanding your business and growing revenue.

SAP cloud managed services include everything that is required to keep your SAP cloud running optimally – such as licensing, monitoring, 24/7 support, and performance management. Some MSPs also provide security monitoring and analytics to further improve the efficiency of your SAP cloud environment.

3. SAP HANA cloud solutions

SAP HANA, or SAP’s in-memory, relational database management system, is used by several leading companies in multiple industries. It is gaining widespread adoption due to its ability to accelerate transactions and analytical processing.

Working with a trusted partner can be a good option for companies that want to switch to SAP HANA, as it is a complex platform to implement and manage, just like SAP S/4 HANA, the fourth upgrade of the SAP Business Suite.

Some SAP MSPs specifically offer managed services for SAP HANA by providing your organization with a platform optimized for both SAP HANA and ERP workloads. CenturyLink specializes in SAP HANA managed services, offering the following benefits to digital enterprises:

  • Turnkey HANA instances up to 1TB in size (BYOL) 
  • Fully-managed compute, storage, network and security at a single price per VM 
  • Worldwide MPLS, IQ+, EVPL network connectivity 
  • Deploy pre-production, test/dev HANA environments in less than 30 minutes

Choosing the right cloud SAP MSP for your organization

Gartner predicts that the number of cloud-managed service providers will triple by 2020. If you are looking for an SAP cloud-managed service provider, here are four questions that will help you choose a trusted SAP MSP:

1. What is the competency level of domain expertise of the MSP?

It is essential to work with an SAP licensed MSP with the right credentials and experience to back its service offerings and competency. To ensure this, you can always ask a vendor to share the industry certifications held by the team members who would be working on your project so that you are sure of their expertise and confident that your work would not be outsourced.
It is also a good idea to evaluate the domain expertise of a vendor. For example, is the MSP acquainted with the technologies specific to your business? This is especially important if you operate in a highly regulated industry, such as government, healthcare, or banking.

2. Does the MSP offer multi-cloud and hybrid cloud management?

Depending on your business goals, you may prefer Azure, AWS, Google Cloud, or a mixture of these platforms for deploying workloads. However, does your MSP offer multi-cloud and hybrid cloud management? A good MSP should be able to cater to both your present and future needs, helping you to scale your operations without any business disruptions. As an additional consideration, you may look for cybersecurity services to secure your SAP cloud environment further.

3. Does the MSP have a proven methodology in place?

The success of your SAP environment is critical to your business. Therefore, it is vital to ascertain whether the MSP knows what it is doing. For example, to ensure a smooth transition to the cloud, the MSP must have a proven SAP cloud migration policy in place with pre-defined phases, deliverables, tasks and client references to back their claim.

4. What does the SLA promise?

In addition to checking industry certifications and references, you must go through the SLA to confirm whether the MSP provides 24/7 support, and in which geographical regions across the globe. Also, what are the disaster recovery options, is there any additional service like security management available, what are the reporting protocols, etc.
Having a certified SAP MSP as part of your cloud strategy can be a major competitive advantage.

It not only optimizes costs while reducing the burden on your IT team but also gives you access to relevant and updated industry knowledge and practices to get the best out of your SAP environment. 

If you are looking for a trusted managed services partner for SAP cloud, CenturyLink offers end-to-end SAP cloud managed services and solutions, proven to improve business outcomes significantly. 

Schedule a free consultation with our SAP expert
This content is provided for informational purposes only and may require additional research and substantiation by the end user. In addition, the information is provided "as is" without any warranty or condition of any kind, either express or implied. Use of this information is at the end user's own risk. CenturyLink does not warrant that the information will meet the end user's requirements or that the implementation or usage of this information will result in the desired outcome of the end user. This document represents CenturyLink’s products and offerings as of the date of issue. Services not available everywhere. Business customers only. CenturyLink may change or cancel products and services or substitute similar products and services at its sole discretion without notice. ©2020 CenturyLink. All Rights Reserved.

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