AWS shows how Cloud stepped up during pandemic

The regional AWS Transformation Day has always focused on business transformation rather than on technology. Accordingly, the presentations during 2019’s event were dominated by presentations from customers that built “something new” on the AWS cloud, or that made use of innovative cloud services in areas like machine learning or IoT.

And these aspects have lost nothing in importance, also during the crisis in 2020. In the keynote, AWS Enterprise Strategist Gregor Hophe emphasized that today’s omnipresent digital disruption cannot be met with conventional transformation approaches – that usually meant an optimization towards a defined target state – but that digitalization, and particularly digitalization in uncertain times, requires the necessary agility and speed to meet the needs of permanent change.

However, Klaus Bürg, General Manager AWS Germany, Austria and Switzerland, also highlighted that AWS has adapted this year’s event focus topics to currently particularly outstanding needs: cost efficiency, autonomous and productive teams, operational resilience, and business agility. And how AWS has pragmatically responded to the specific challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, among other things with the support of research and healthcare institutions, e.g. via the establishment of the AWS Covid-19 Data Lake for data exchange and analysis.

And all this could be realized with the help of the cloud. But also, that the benefits of the cloud cannot be fully realized if the way of working is not radically changed, and if business models and processes are not constantly questioned. This year’s customer presentations, case studies and breakout sessions focused on both, innovation but also migration. E.g., while DFL presented an example for innovation and industry services provider Leadec talked about their data center migration, the case study of Zalando combined both, a large SAP migration and an innovative integration of AWS cloud-native services.

DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga Group provided a preview of the match reporting of the future and how they aim at raising the treasure of around 3.6 million data points per match today, and data from more than 10,000 historic Bundesliga matches that can be used to train machine learning models. In the future, new real-time statistics services will provide – potentially in a personalized way – interesting data and visualizations across platforms and devices. Including, e.g., real-time predictions for expected goals and the identification of goal opportunities and expected team tactics.

When the service division VOITH Industrial Services was spun off from the VOITH Group about four years ago and became an independent industrial services provider under the name Leadec. The company spokesperson talked about how Leadec shifted from an existing on-premise infrastructure to its “new datacenter”, the AWS Cloud, in 180 days. At the same time, Leadec has been following a holistic approach to digitization.

Leadec has been following a "cloud first" approach when restructuring its IT organization. Within six months, the centrally managed server systems were widely migrated to the AWS cloud and transferred to the managed services responsibility of IT services partner SPIRIT/21. One important success factor was that prior to the migration, Leadec consolidated its data centers, established a central governance, updated the knowledge about the existing infrastructures and adapted existing competencies.

Why AWS? Leadec highlighted AWS’ level of built-in security and compliance that is not easy to realize in own data centers, and the future proof of the platform, e.g. in terms of serverless architectures. In addition, Leadec shares AWS’ “automate-everything” vision and acknowledges its rich portfolio of migration tools. And it is these tools, such as for discovery, planning, migration and documentation, as well as the level of automation that distinguishes a cloud migration from a classic IT outsourcing (ITO) transition.

SAP migration remains a major topic. According to AWS, more than 5,000 customers worldwide already run SAP systems on AWS. The migration to SAP S/4HANA requires an optimized infrastructure for the SAP HANA platform. This is why a planned migration often serves as a trigger for a cloud strategy. The cloud promises stable infrastructures, cost efficiency as well as a high degree of "built-in" automation and security. The deployment of new SAP solutions can be accelerated by using the cloud, and it offers comparatively simple and efficient backup and archiving options.

Which migration strategy is pursued varies; some companies first migrate their existing SAP systems to the cloud and then modernize their SAP landscape. Others opt for the reverse order, or approach both in parallel. New or greenfield implementations often take place directly in the cloud per se, as companies do not regard data center operation as a core competence.

An example of a greenfield implementation was presented by AWS-partner Capgemini – according to PAC’s recently published vendor rankings among the three leading cloud consulting and systems integration providers in EMEA. Together with AWS, Capgemini showed how they have helped a German DAX 30 life science company to set up an SAP S/4HANA development system within 4 weeks.

But both parties highlighted how important the innovative power of the platform was for the decision for AWS. A cloud platform gives customers the opportunity to extend their SAP systems with cloud-native services and integrate them with them, for example in innovative areas such as data lakes, machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence or Internet of Things (IoT). Here, AWS presented the case study of their customer Zalando. The online fashion platform began migrating its SAP systems from an on-premises infrastructure to AWS in 2016; meanwhile it has integrated its SAP systems with multiple of AWS services.


PAC’s View

It is clear that across all regions and all industry sectors, that the unprecedented disruption of re-cent months has proved a tipping point for those organizations that were holding back from wide-spread cloud adoption, and has forced even mature consumers to re-draw the lines in terms of which workloads they are willing to migrate onto cloud platforms to improve business agility, scala-bility and resilience.

Companies need to increase efficiency and agility while they continue to invest in innovation. This is why large-scale cloud migration is considered as a serious option by many companies, not only in view of the crisis, but also triggered by hardware refreshes, the winding down of outsourcing contracts, or data center consolidation strategies. We explored some of the specific challenges and issues relating to cloud migration based on our discussions with AWS and its customers in this accompanying comment piece, and we also recently took an in-depth look at some client migration journeys in our White Paper “Added Business Value with SAP in the Cloud”.

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