In the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of the cloud in many global organizations and helped them to achieve their digital transformation. And the intent behind their decision is nothing but to simply to optimize business processes, save financial resources, and improve customers’ visiting experiences.
As many organizations were busy making their technological transformation, the IT industry tend to be in its leadership position as usual with clear future possibilities. With every IT shift, IT professionals’ responsibilities will tend to rise in keeping cloud driving & management skills up to date, which is essential as it is a vital part of business IT product innovation and a deciding factor for their success.
Recently, Microsoft has introduced its new technical skill program called Inside Azure for IT with many guiding resources for cloud engineers to skill-up their current knowledge base. This program covers many new developer resources and Azure best practices suggested by Microsoft Azure experts, which guarantees to help you drive business progress and modernization of your on-premises, multi-cloud, and edge platforms, only if followed appropriately.
This new Inside Azure for IT programs contains a guide for business operations transformations while migrating important SAP and VMware workloads in the Azure ecosystem and many other guides.
Now, let’s consider some keynotes while migrating business-critical SAP workloads to the Azure cloud platform.
Top-4 Considerations for SAP Migration to Azure Cloud Platform:
SAP architecture about to move to Azure must satisfy conditions of four essential and foundational pillars, such as security, agility, high availability, self-recoverability, and performance efficiency.
SAP Security Designing:
Any organizations’ SAP data is a great treasure of each technical approach and process. Therefore, it requires extra attention towards SAP architectural security in areas of accessibility, application protection, data protection against network vulnerabilities, and ensuring data integrity through various encryption methods.
Basically, SAP workloads are delivered in the form of an IaaS cloud model to Azure, which contains built-in data protection. Microsoft comprises hypervisor systems, which require proper security controls. For authentication, you can use Azure AD (Active Directory) to leverage SSO on your SCP services running on the Azure platform.
You can also use NSG (Network Security Groups) rules to give SAP data permissions to known (or private/internal) IP addresses only and deny public internet access. To provide data integrity, you can use ADE and Azure Key Vault for data encryption. This approach not just encrypts SAP data files but also OS and Database backups.
SAP Performance and Scalability:
Same as other platforms, SAP also requires an ability to provide seamless application performance across the infrastructure. The performance factor of SAP deployment depends on three Azure components, such as compute, storage, and network, and Azure Virtual Machines may become helpful assets in maintaining the performance level of SAP applications.
Azure highly recommends using its VMs for SAP applications and databases to achieve better performance agility by enabling Accelerated Networking and Write Accelerator. This way, you’ll be able to operate M-series VMs, write database logs precisely, and enhance I/O latency or use Premium Storage Managed Disks for the same.
ExpressRoute or VPN connectivity is highly recommended to run and manage SAP applications effectively on Azure cloud platforms.
Achieving High Availability and Recoverability on SAP:
It is critical for any tier-1 SAP application to achieve operational stability that drives business continuity in all possible worst or failure situations. While it is a matter of product SAO applications, Microsoft highly recommends using VMs that continue its running processes, like A(SCS) and data deployed in various Availability Zones even in planned and unplanned failures and maintenance events.
Many also recommend using small servers in place of one large SAP application server. Plus, you can also integrate OS cluster technologies, including Windows Failover or Linux Pacemaker cluster, on their guest OS to protect them against short-time failovers. And DBMS replications add more scope in disaster recovery processes. It leads us to the SAP recoverability concept, which can happen during the migration process no matter the size.
While designing SAP recoverability, it is vital to know about the RPO and RTO of applications. To achieve any SAP disaster recovery, Microsoft offers Azure Regional Pairs, which ensures isolation and data availability at all times.
Designing SAP Operations and Efficiency:
Each step towards Azure creates a new opportunity to put the SAP system under rationalized assessment. The main question arises for such processes, do we really need to migrate all SAP systems and components to Azure, or there is a freedom to decommission systems that are being ideal for such a long time. Well, Microsoft itself has decommissioned over 60 VMs that were part of their SAP systems during their Azure migration.
As far as efficiency is concerned, eliminating unproductive SAP components deployed on the Azure cloud platform is necessary. After that, you can make all services live and reassess their sizing to ensure none are utilizing less or more than they should.
In this case, you want to bring processes that can result in better cost savings by de-allocating or snoozing VMs for the particular time when it is not in use. You can also configure systems’ running time based on their needs; for example, 10 hours in 5 days are enough for the SAP Sandbox system, which results in a 30% reduction in overall optimization cost. SAP application must run all the time to get access to Azure Reserved Instances, which plays an essential role in dragging service optimization cost down.
Designing all these SAP capabilities using manual processes is a considerably lengthy, tedious, erroneous, and often costly process since multiple SAP installations are involved. Therefore, it is essential to leverage automation across the infrastructure by embracing DevOps culture using IaC to build required SAP environments.
SAP migration to the Azure platform is just the first step of enhancing cloud knowledge and achieving digital transformation. There are other steps as well; for example, scaling up the current Azure cloud datacenter with Azure VMs with new cloud best practices, which we’ll discuss in our future articles. Till then, keep reading about the latest Microsoft Azure and other cutting-edge technology-related updates, and stay ahead in this intensively competitive world.
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