07. Juli 2021
My last blog article Pimp my SAP ERP was about how to give old SAP systems a front-end based on modern Web technologies. This blog article will be about how to operate these monolithic SAP systems ourselves in a modern and agile way using the resources of the Google Cloud Platform.
Until recently, all SAP systems managed by Otto Group IT were operated by a service company in a traditional data centre – a classic outsourcing model in which all SAP operations tasks and the SAP core platform were outsourced to the external service provider.
Operation was stable and also satisfactory. We didn’t have to worry about anything and had fully functional SAP systems on which our customers (the Otto Group specialist departments and Group companies) could map out their managed business processes (finance, controlling, billing, procurement and merchandise management, personnel management, and much more).
The downside of this operating model was that system landscape modifications could not be carried out quickly and flexibly, and the set-up of new systems often took too long.
On top of this, over the last few years in the world of SAP there has been a major change from the old SAP ECC 6.0 software (also known as R/3) to the more modern SAP S/4HANA. As the name suggests, S/4HANA is based on the in-memory database SAP HANA. For installation and operation you need SAP-certified hardware (servers), which are very expensive to purchase.
The desire for cheaper certified hardware to operate SAP S/4HANA, combined with our wish for a higher speed of change and thus integration in our agile software development, gave my colleague Stefan and me the idea to radically rethink our SAP operating model.
Since then, our goal has been to operate all SAP systems managed by Otto Group IT 100% cloud-natively on modern Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) resources provided by the Google Cloud Platform. In Google we have found a partner where we can simply lease the resources required for SAP operation cost-effectively and flexibly
Since March 2020 we’ve been working on the retrieval of our SAP systems from our external service provider back into Otto Group IT. In the first year we built up a new team of certified SAP HANA Administrators and automated the entire deployment process of SAP HANA systems. In this we benefited from our existing know-how in the operation of large system landscapes based on GNU/Linux and the right mindset to want to automate everything.
We now operate more than 90 SAP servers ourselves again, with more rejoining every week. We rely 100% on SUSE Linux Enterprise as the operating system and SAP HANA as the database. For automation we use Ansible and we keep our operating system software up to date with Foreman. The entire system landscape is versioned as Infrastructure as Code (IaC) in our central GitLab.
By mid-2022 we aim to have completed all the migrations and start the switchover to S/4HANA. If you’d like to help us with these exciting SAP-related challenges, please also visit the Jobs webpage – we’re always looking for reinforcements!
This is naturally only a superficial outline of the very large and complex Otto Group IT backsourcing project. If you’d like to go deeper into discussion, I would be pleased to meet you personally at the upcoming DSAG Technology Days or SAP TechEd.
If you’re interested in working with me, this position might be right for you: