Authored by: Peter Lees, Chief Technologist, SUSE Asia Pacific & Japan
In a world in which organisations are becoming more digitally driven and transforming like never before, the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system can be thought of like the Arc Reactor of Stark Industries in the Iron Man comics and movies: an all-encompassing energy source that is powering the entire business.
Think about all the core processes that enterprises need: finance, human resources, manufacturing, supply chain, services, procurement, and so on. ERP integrates these processes into a single system, and enables the application of new technologies such as data analytics to dig down into the data, discover interesting patterns and offer actionable insights to improve business operations.
However, when ERP systems lack ease-of-use and scalability, they can restrict business growth and potentially endanger financial health. Unpacking the challenges businesses face from disruptive technologies, the Annual Business Survey 2018 by the Singapore Chamber of Commerce & Industry found that besides rising costs, close to 32 percent of business owners also had difficulties in finding the right vendors when undergoing a digital transformation of their enterprise.
The challenge remains when choosing an ERP system upgrade with business objectives in mind: all organisations will be concerned about keeping systems current with high level of service uptime, data quality, business processes, integration, etc. But while ERP upgrade and migration pain points are serious, they are not unsurmountable.
For SAP ERP customers not currently on SAP S/4 HANA, 2025 is an important year, as it is when support for its legacy ERP business suite ends – an almost “Y2K-level” event. There is significant value for customers to move to the HANA in-memory database: while nearly half of the polled SAP customers are planning to consolidate several ERP systems into one, IDC found that SAP S/4HANA is mission-critical to their businesses because it optimises their digital transformation strategy, improves agility and visibility, and reduces costs and time-to-process information.
Insist on open
The infrastructure surrounding and supporting SAP is known as the digital core. Focusing on a single digital core, SAP simplifies the infrastructure. And to make this simplified infrastructure as interoperable and robust as possible, the infrastructure is built on Linux and open source.
According to the recent SAPinsider Benchmark Report, 60 percent of respondents are embracing cloud deployments to support their SAP S/4 HANA implementations. The versatility of Linux provides strong support for container environments and runs equally well in the cloud or on-premise. Besides being portable, secure and versatile, open source also prevents vendor lock-in which affects closed-source, proprietary software.
Migration to HANA might be inevitable, but SAP customers can endure fewer trials and tribulations compared to traditional, large-scale upgrades by making use of a supported OS-of-choice like SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications, the platform SAP itself uses to develop and deploy their own software and systems.
Staying on target
When SAP customers migrate to an existing SAP landscape, begin a new deployment of SAP HANA, or choose between cloud or on-promise, finding the right open source solutions will make a big difference in building the right infrastructure for digital business.
Accelerating digital transformation starts with running SAP applications on SUSE to unlock data intelligence, drive innovation and run with the best – SAP and SUSE have a long history of working together, including two decades of joint testing and development at the SAP Linux Lab and a combined development team working on SAP Cloud Platform.
1. Zero uncertainty
To ease migration troubles, businesses can get a complete, free audit of their systems to reduce uncertainty about the changes needed to upgrade to SAP HANA.
SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications has a number of unique features to take out the guesswork: a SAP installation wizard that simplifies and accelerates the deployment of SAP S/4HANA and the related applications; tools to support the transition from Microsoft SQL server-based systems to Linux; streamlined performance tuning for SAP HANA and SAP S/4HANA based on automatic application of SAP Tech notes; and the ability for the operating system to perform a full system rollback with one click for an ultra-fast recovery if anything goes wrong.
2. Minimum downtime
While every SAP customer knows that moving to SAP S/4 HANA is inevitable, many are concerned by the complexity and duration of the migration project. SUSE has been working toward zero downtime for SAP applications and databases. SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications includes an extended window for migrating between OS updates, includes all of the software needed to cluster systems for high availability, and can perform live updates between minor releases with minimal downtime. SUSE Linux Enterprise Live Patching allows the OS kernel to be patched for stability and security updates without the need to reboot. This means that customers can maintain the security of their systems while reducing planned downtime, without interruption to its SAP applications.
3. Data into action
SAP S/4HANA helps enterprises run more easily in the digital economy. With the switch to SAP HANA, customers are better able to connect to people, devices and business networks to reach new levels of efficiency and agility.
Now, big data capabilities and Internet of Things solutions are accessible for customers to transform data into action across all lines of business. SAP HANA’s in-memory database provides the digital core for real-time insights into data from any source: planning, execution, prediction and simulation. After the digital transformation to SAP S/4 HANA ERP suite, decisions can be made on the fly for faster business impact, creating added value in the age of intelligent enterprises.
To stand out in today’s highly crowded business world, businesses need technology solutions to be faster, simpler and more flexible. Choosing an ERP system that eliminates the complexity of migration, with enterprise-class open source capabilities – now that is what a super-hero organisation would do as it represents freedom.