Amplify the value of your SAP investment with AWS and SAP Business Technology Platform Joint Reference Architecture
This post was jointly authored by the following individuals from AWS and SAP:
Ferry Mulyadi, Partner Solution Architect SAP Alliance APJ, AWS
Manjunath Chandrashekhar, Director SAP Business Technology Platform CoE APJ, SAP
Many SAP customers are looking at ways to get more out of their SAP investments by introducing custom code within their core SAP ERP or S/4HANA. As per market research done by America SAP User Group (ASUG 2021), over 91% customers rely on the custom code to enable essential business processes. 57% of them have more than half their critical business process depend on custom SAP interfaces.
These custom applications and interfaces are built to help drive processes more efficiently across business lines, however they also bring signification overheads to businesses:
- Applications were typically built 6-8 years ago using legacy application development frameworks.
- Know how to enhance and maintain applications are lost to employee attrition.
- Costs to maintain the existing application spiral out of control.
With the SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP) and Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud services, SAP customers can now look at modernizing critical business processes of the core of your SAP S/4HANA deployments.
- Embracing the clean core methodology which, is recommended by SAP.
- SAP BTP brings together data and analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, application development, automation and integration into one unified platform.
- SAP BTP services also run in AWS regions and is complimented by AWS Analytics Services, AWS IoT Services, AWS AI and ML Services and other AWS services.
Why SAP BTP on AWS
SAP BTP brings together data and analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, application development, automation and integration into one unified platform. As of September 15, 2022, according to the SAP Discovery Center, SAP BTP has 96 services, out of which 83 services run on 9 AWS region globally. For example:
- Forms Service by Adobe is always required in SAP S/4HANA Private Cloud Edition (PCE) or RISE with SAP. Without this service, customers cannot generate print and interactive forms, such as pdf output of invoices, sales order, bill of lading and so on.
- SAP Process Automation combines workflow and robotic process automation with a zero-code experience allowing of SAP customers to automate business processes.
- SAP Analytics Cloud provides comprehensive reporting, analytics and planning solution combined with SAP Data Warehouse Cloud (SAP DWC).
When you choose to run SAP S/4HANA (or RISE with SAP on AWS) and SAP BTP on AWS, you will have a more secure architecture, avoid additional data egress charges, data latency, and extra storage costs, because all of the instances are running within AWS global network and will be supported by AWS Privatelink (References: How to connect SAP BTP Services with AWS Services using SAP Private Link Service, Data Transfer Announcement, Amazon VPC FAQ). This optimizes access to powerful solution combinations such as bi-directional data federation between SAP DWC and AWS analytics services, enabling near real-time analytics with the best scale, performance, and cost to meet your needs.
Why AWS and SAP BTP Joint Reference Architecture
The AWS and SAP BTP Joint Reference Architecture was developed to address common questions from joint customers and partners on how to use SAP BTP or AWS services for different business solution scenarios. As we dive deeper into each of the use cases, we will see that the services complement each other, working together to solve the respective business challenges holistically. Within AWS and SAP BTP Joint Reference Architecture, we will discuss the guiding principles that drive the architectural choices taken to achieve the best time-to-value and lowest total-cost-of-ownership for our customers.
Each service’s ability to solve a business problem and where the solution will take action within the technology domain will drive the architecture. Some examples of this include:
- Use of SAP AppGyver for a no-code app development environment to build mobile apps for Purchase Order approval.
- Use of AWS IoT Greengrass and IoT Core to build integration with IoT for manufacturing lines.
When there is a pre-built integration or report contents in the related service, then it is preferred to use such service to achieve better time-to-value and total-cost-of-ownership. Some examples of this include:
- SAP Integration Suite has pre-built integrations between S/4HANA and SAP SuccessFactors. SAP also provides pre-built business content for Data and Analytics use cases for SAC, Planning and SAP DWC.
- Amazon AppFlow has pre-built integrations between non-SAP enterprise applications and Amazon S3.
When there are business requirements to have consolidated analytics for transactional reporting, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) use-cases, it is preferred for the data to be accessed from the source rather than from a replica to get the best performance, avoid latency, reduce effort for reconciliation and additional costs such as for storage. Some examples of this include:
- Building an overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) dashboard will be more efficient when you build data federation using the capabilities of SAP DWC with data coming from AWS IoT, SAP Plant Maintenance and Amazon Redshift.
- End-to-end SAP Analytics Cloud story showing several comparative sales analysis charts bringing live data through SAP Data Warehouse Cloud’s analytical models that federates queries directly to Amazon Athena in near real time.
Together with the use cases, the data gravity or location will drive the preference on which services to use. Some examples of this include:
- If the data source is located in SAP applications, then it is preferred to use SAP DWC and SAC for your visualization and analytics requirement due the data mix being primarily SAP led.
- If the data source is located in Amazon S3 or Amazon Redshift (which may come, for example from a data stream of AWS IoT), then it is preferred to use Amazon Quicksight for your visualization tool.
- Do note that in some scenarios, use case may dictate the right choice of tools and location alone might not drive a solution design decision.
Last and not least, the guiding principles are not set in stone, therefore, they can always be customized based on your scenarios, considerations and use-cases.
Example AWS and SAP BTP Joint Reference Architecture use cases
Data Federation Architecture for Machine Learning
With the architecture in figure 1, we will be leveraging SAP FedML or Federated Machine learning libraries to avoid the extraction and migration of training data from business systems to Amazon Sagemaker to build & train machine learning models.
The library applies the data federation architecture of SAP Data Warehouse Cloud and provides functions that enable businesses and data scientists to build, train and deploy machine learning models on Amazon Sagemaker, thereby eliminating the need for replicating or migrating data out from its original source.
Figure 1. Data Federation Architecture for Machine Learning
SAP and AWS modern data architecture
When SAP customers choose S/4HANA as their digital core and AWS as the enterprise unified data and analytics platform, integrating SAP and enterprise data will become critical. This can be done either through data federation and/or data replication. In figure 2 is a well proven modern data architecture which can be leveraged by partners and customers to benefit from SAP BTP and AWS capabilities around reporting, analytics and planning, to solve customer business challenges, holistically, and uncover new business possibilities which were not possible before.
Figure 2. SAP and AWS Modern data architecture
SAP and AWS partners
There are multiple SAP and AWS partners who are ready to help you build solutions based on the scenarios in the AWS and SAP BTP Joint Reference Architecture. With the initial roll-out occurring across many countries, we have enabled SAP and AWS partners such as Accenture, Deloitte, PwC, IBM, Capgemini, DxC, FAIR Consulting Group, DalRae Solutions, Bourne Digital and Citra Solutions on the use of the Joint Reference Architecture. These partners can bring their breadth and depth of expertise to bear, by using the Joint Reference Architecture to solve challenges faced across multiple industries and business domains.
AWS and SAP BTP Joint References Architecture success stories
1/ An Southeast Asian resources company is struggling to obtain timely insight from their data, expending significant effort consolidating and massaging information from a variety of different sources. In addition, data governance and security are also a concern as some sources of information reside on non-enterprise applications and systems. The company is on a digital transformation journey and has engaged Accenture to help address their challenges and provide greater insight, transparency, and value from their data, to enable further operational productivity and efficiency.
Accenture is helping this Southeast Asian resources company to achieve its goals by creating a tailored solution using the AWS and SAP BTP Joint Reference Architecture as a baseline. Being the launch partner, Accenture is instrumental on the development and providing feedback to AWS and SAP BTP Joint Reference Architecture. Starting small, and with a fit-for-purpose design, Accenture aims to maximise the return on investment and reduce total-cost-of-ownership for the customer. It allows the solution to be nimble, scalable, and future-ready, with more features to be added in phases, driving even further value.
AWS and SAP BTP Joint Reference Architecture is a testament to this approach resulting in a referenceable architectural blueprints and guidelines that maximise the benefits and value of both AWS and SAP BTP technologies for customers. This commitment to customer value with AWS and SAP BTP has led to Accenture being awarded the AWS Partner of the Year 2022, and SAP Asia Pacific Japan Award for Partner Excellence 2022 for SAP BTP.
2/ A fast-moving consumer goods (FCMG) company discovered their distribution partners felt they had complex and opaque processes, and poor communication around terms of pricing, credit, and product delivery information, based on feedback they received from their partners. The company decided they had to become more customer-centric, by simplifying the process of doing business with them by their customers and partners.
FAIR Consulting Group (FAIR) was engaged to improve the customer experience. FAIR worked collaboratively to develop and implement a cloud-based solution using SAP BTP and AWS Services, which has successfully streamlined the company’s operations. It provides improved functionality, automation and self-serve capabilities aligned with the organisation’s digital requirements, including a fully integrated ‘inquiry-to-cash’ (inquiry, quote, orders and contracts, customer-specific pricing and accounts and payments) and ‘cash-to-service’ (claims, credits and rebates and asset management) portal.
Using FAIR’s integration accelerator and standardized accounts, finance, sales and service processes has simplified operations, and has transformed the way the organisation connects with its customers. This resulted in decrease of 30% in manual orders, leading to an increase in revenue, simplified operations, improved communication with customers. This is enabled through an intuitive and accessible user interface that offers real-time data, with superior functionality, automation and self-serve capabilities.
FAIR provides consulting services in experience design, SAP customer experience, systems integration, AWS and SAP BTP cloud services and SAP cloud migrations. FAIR is an SAP Gold Partner and AWS partner. As an AWS and SAP BTP Joint Reference Architecture enabled partner, FAIR offers trusted advice and implementation for advanced use of SAP and AWS to provide transformative customer experience.
In this blog, we have discussed the AWS and SAP BTP Joint Reference Architecture to help you amplify the value from your SAP investment. With this, you can reimagine new business opportunities or business values using best practices and the right tools and services for the right solution. Here are some further references that you may find useful to help you kick start your modernization journey with AWS Cloud and SAP BTP Services.
- AWS and SAP BTP: driving more value from your SAP ERP journey to the cloud
- Integrating SAP Systems with AWS Services using SAP Open Connectors
- SAP HANA Cloud to Support ARM-based AWS Graviton Processors
- Integrating SAP Systems with AWS Services using SAP Business Technology Platform
- Federated Machine Learning using SAP Data Warehouse Cloud and Amazon SageMaker 2.0
- SAP TechEd 2022 – Amplify the Value of SAP Investments with a Joint Reference Architecture [DT200]
- AWS re:Invent 2022 – SAP Joint Reference Architecture Session and Partner Recognition
You can find out more about SAP on AWS, Data Lakes on AWS from the AWS product documentation, as well as SAP BTP Use Case Repository, SAP Discovery Center – Services and SAP Discovery Center – Missions.
About the SAP and AWS partnership
SAP and AWS have had a strategic relationship for over a decade with thousands of joint customers. The Joint Reference Architecture and combined business capabilities are significant in terms of bringing together two powerhouse engineering organizations to drive innovation and support our customers’ journey to become a sustainable, intelligent enterprise. In fact, SAP is a signatory of The Climate Pledge committing to net-zero carbon and SAP have also accelerated our sustainability commitment to 2030.
Join the SAP on AWS Discussion
In addition to your customer account team and AWS Support channels, we have recently launched re:Post – A Reimagined Q&A Experience for the AWS Community. Our SAP on AWS Solution Architecture team regularly monitor the SAP on AWS topic for discussion and questions that could be answered to assist our customers and partners. If your question is not support-related, consider joining the discussion over at re:Post and adding to the community knowledge base.
The AWS and SAP BTP Joint Reference Architectures are the results of partnership and contributions from SAP and AWS, including our Partners. We would like to thank the following team members for their contributions: Nitin Joshi, Raymond Ho, RJ Bibby, Spencer Martenson, Derek Ewell, Anil Nallamotu, Marius Batrinu, Leo An, Mattia Colagrossi, Barry Hodges, Henry Victor, Ashok Munirathniam Nagichetty, Marin Videnov, Andrew Song, Chris Cormack.