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New fast-launch tool aims at SAP on AWS deployments

SAP on AWS projects could get easier for customers with the release of a new fast-launch tool native to the public cloud platform. AWS' move aims to attract more of these valuable ERP workloads.

AWS has made another move in pursuit of SAP application workloads, which are prized by cloud infrastructure providers for their scope and stickiness.

AWS Launch Wizard for SAP combines functionality from the company's CloudFormation infrastructure as code (IaC) service with AWS Systems Manager to model resource requirements and deploy the applications faster.

The fast-launch tool makes recommendations on AWS EC2 instance sizes and EBS volumes after customers enter what they require in terms of performance, scale-out and connectivity. It also provides estimated costs. Upon approval, Launch Wizard for SAP spools up the resources automatically, according to an AWS blog post. It also generates CloudFormation templates for future use as SAP on AWS deployments grow.

AWS' move comes six months after it introduced new EC2 instances loaded with large amounts of RAM, which is needed to most effectively run SAP's HANA in-memory database underneath its S/4HANA suite. However, most SAP customers remain on older ERP versions and use data stores such as Oracle.

Although SAP works with all three hyperscalers through its Project Embrace initiative, in October it named Microsoft Azure as its preferred infrastructure provider. That decision came about after customer feedback indicated Microsoft had the most comprehensive approach to enterprise-level support and higher-level services beyond infrastructure.

SAP is really embracing these relationships in the same way they embraced hardware vendors back in the day.
Josh GreenbaumPrincipal analyst, Enterprise Applications Consulting

Google Cloud has made its own moves to attract SAP workloads, including recently added support for IBM Power Systems. Last year, the company hired longtime SAP sales executive Robert Enslin to help acquire business from large enterprises and launched an SAP migration program called Lighthouse.

Meanwhile, AWS has the advantage of experience on the infrastructure layer, having first run SAP workloads in 2011 and built out a series of related tools since then.

The result is a market where all three hyperscalers have a shot at SAP customers, said David Wascom, senior vice president of executive programs leadership at the Americas' SAP Users' Group (ASUG).

"They've all become enterprise-class landing points for [production] SAP workloads, which wasn't true even a couple of years ago," Wascom said. Back then, SAP customers were willing to adopt public cloud environments, but in limited form, he added: "We'll do it, but nothing real. It's going to be all dev and QA."

SAP's decision to name Microsoft its preferred provider makes sense, according to Wascom. "Microsoft is probably the best positioned today to have a legitimate enterprise conversation with customers," he said.

Josh Greenbaum, principal analyst, Enterprise Applications ConsultingJosh Greenbaum

Still, it's important for SAP to have strong relationships with all three, said Josh Greenbaum, principal analyst at Enterprise Applications Consulting in Berkeley, Calif.

"It's a customer choice issue," Greenbaum said. "They want to control who is running these SAP workloads."

Several years ago, in the dawn of on-premises ERP moving to the cloud, SAP focused on delivering it from its own data centers. It's largely dropped that strategy now in favor of partnerships with hyperscalers.

"SAP is really embracing these relationships in the same way they embraced hardware vendors back in the day," Greenbaum said. "These guys are fundamentally the virtual hardware platforms."

Right now, AWS and its rivals rely mostly on partners to help onboard SAP customers. What's needed is a more substantial approach to native, managed services for SAP deployments that consider a customer's long-term strategic plans, Greenbaum said.

In contrast, AWS' new launch tool is a welcome addition for customers but doesn't rise to that level, he added. "These are the wheels you need to drive down the road."

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