SAP on AWS: 2020 Year in Review


As I reflect on 2020, I first want to acknowledge how unbelievably crazy it has been. Almost universally, our way of life has been changed due to COVID-19 and other world events, and it’s been difficult for so many. The pandemic forced organizations to make deep operational changes almost immediately to meet the needs of their customers and employees, and many are turning to cloud services to adapt.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve had a chance to hear from many of these customers as part of our annual re:Invent conference. Several of them even took the virtual stage to share their SAP transformation stories with the world:

  • Newmont showed us how they were able to facilitate their acquisition of Goldcorp – the largest acquisition in the history of the gold industry – by unifying their disparate SAP ECC footprints across 3 different data centers into AWS which included a migration to SAP HANA, a key milestone for their journey to SAP S/4HANA.
  • Bristol Myers Squib demonstrated how they have dramatically simplified GxP compliance and significantly reduced SAP management costs by transforming from a multi-site global SAP ECC implementation to SAP S/4HANA on AWS. Their SAP S/4HANA system now supports key business processes throughout the drug product lifecycle, which allows them to deliver their solutions to market faster.
  • Phillips 66 gave insights into their ERP transformation taking place on AWS, which includes a greenfield SAP S/4HANA implementation. This new system is enabling them to embrace industry standards, integrate siloed data, streamline and automating core processes, and future-proof themselves against inevitable change.
  • Zalando walked us through how they have completely re-imagined their customer experience by combining SAP S/4HANA with 36 AWS services. This includes the use of chatbots through Amazon Lex to automatically respond to customer inquiries, and automated image recognition using Amazon Rekognition to speed up invoice processing, which allows them to ship up to 90 million orders per year.
  • And on January 14th, Volkswagen Group will share how they have worked with our AWS Professional Services Global SAP Specialty Practice to integrate their SAP systems with their Digital Production Platform – an AWS-based solution that standardizes and simplifies data exchange across Volkswagen’s 124 factory sites.

These customers are but a few examples of the thousands that are trusting AWS as their platform of choice and innovation for SAP. And it’s this large and growing community of customers that provide the feedback that drives our continued innovation in this space.

Recently, ISG published their 2020 Provider Lens™ Quadrant Report for SAP HANA Infrastructure Services, naming AWS a leader for the third year in a row. In this report, they highlighted a handful of areas which align closely to the feedback we get from our customers: that AWS offers customers choice in how they navigate their SAP journeys, how simple it is for AWS customers to deploy and manage their SAP workloads, and continued leadership in the SAP infrastructure space. I’d like to spend a few minutes exploring both ISG’s findings, as well as the things we worked on in each of these areas this past year.


Key Highlights: 2020 ISG Provider Lens™ Quadrant Report for SAP HANA Infrastructure Services

Infrastructure Leadership

“AWS offers the widest variety of VMs for SAP (more than 65 options). The smallest one is c5.large with 2 vCPU and 4GB, supporting 2,650 SAPS; the largest is u-24tb1.metal with 448 vCPU, 24 TB supporting 444,330 SAPS. Choosing customer-workload optimized configurations, AWS is certified to run SAP S/4HANA up to 48 TB memory and SAP BW/4HANA up to 100 TB, both in scale out scenarios. AWS Nitro Systems runs SAP VMs without the performance hit associated with the hypervisor layer. Customers can change their SAP instance sizes with a simple stop/start.” – 2020 ISG Provider Lens™ Quadrant Report for SAP HANA Infrastructure Services

Since 2011, we have been purpose-building infrastructure for SAP workloads. AWS offers a broad variety of SAP certified Amazon EC2 instance types, ranging from 256GB to 24TB of memory in a single EC2 instance. You can also leverage scale out options to run SAP S/4HANA with up to 48 TB of memory and SAP BW/4HANA up to 100 TB. Additionally, our latest generation of SAP-certified instances including our High Memory Instance leverage the AWS Nitro System. Traditionally, hypervisors virtualize the CPU, storage, and networking functions. With the Nitro System, we are able to offload these functions to dedicated hardware cards, practically delivering all of the resources of a server to your instances.

In addition to ISG’s acknowledgement of infrastructure as a key strength specifically for SAP workloads, Gartner named AWS as a leader for the tenth consecutive year in their 2020 Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure and Platform Services. In doing so, AWS placed the highest in “Ability to Execute” and furthest in “Completeness of Vision.” Our continued leadership in broader cloud infrastructure capabilities including reliability and performance give SAP customers confidence that we can support their mission-critical landscapes, such Siemens Smart Infrastructure who recently chose AWS as its preferred cloud provider for their large SAP landscapes supporting manufacturing and operations.

And customers have pushed us to go even further with our SAP-certified offerings. In May, we updated our High Memory Instances to offer greater storage and network bandwidth, with each instance now offering up to 38 Gbps of dedicated storage bandwidth and 100 Gbps of network bandwidth. Customers can take advantage of this added value at no extra cost.

Recently we launched and certified Amazon EBS io2 volumes and Amazon EC2 R5b instances for SAP workloads. Amazon EBS io2 volumes offer 99.999% durability (a 100x improvement) and a maximum IOPS:GB of 500:1 (a 10x improvement). These volumes further reduce the possibility of a storage volume failure, and allow you to scale your throughput independent of your storage, so you can meet the needs of demanding workloads without overprovisioning. Amazon EC2 R5b instances in turn offer the fastest block storage performance among Amazon EC2 instance types, with up to 60 Gbps of EBS bandwidth and up to 260k IOPS per instance. Customers operating storage performance-sensitive workloads like SAP on Oracle, DB2, and SQL Server can migrate from R5 to R5b to consolidate their existing workloads into fewer or smaller instances, thereby reducing the cost of both infrastructure and licensed commercial software working on those instances.

More Choice

“AWS has been offering SAP in the cloud for more than 11 years. It offers many SAP services and a robust support partner network. AWS hosts several SAP solutions, including SAP Cloud Platform that is available in 10 regions. Many tools can be used for backup and archiving SAP data on any Amazon S3 region, including encryption.” – 2020 ISG Provider Lens™ Quadrant Report for SAP HANA Infrastructure Services

Something we have heard from customers since we started supporting SAP in 2011 is that they do not want to forced down one technical path—they want choice and flexibility as they approach their SAP cloud journey. Many customers are still evaluating their long-term plans for SAP, but know that this is not an excuse to stop innovating and driving greater operational efficiency. For that reason, many of these customers are lifting and shifting their existing SAP systems to AWS to realize almost immediate cost savings and simplified management, which allows them to quickly turn their focus toward innovating around their core business systems. This approach allows them to continue to assess the business case for S/4HANA and drive new business capabilities with their existing SAP investments today. Invista is a great example of one such customer. They’re continuing to leverage ECC as their core ERP system, and are modernizing operations with AWS services to gain new manufacturing capabilities. This has enabled them to bridge data siloes and gain more advanced capabilities, like using Amazon Rekognition with AWS AI services to automatically detect faulty parts on their manufacturing lines.

In 2020, we continued to invest in the SAP on AWS partner community, which complements the choice we offer, by delivering migration support, managed services, and purpose-built software solutions for customers that want to go beyond infrastructure. We also added SAP to our Migration Acceleration Program, which provides funds to support an engagement with a partner that has created an SAP on AWS Migration Factory.

Deployment and Management Assistance

“AWS Launch Wizard recommends a guided way to size, configure and deploy AWS resources… The entire provision and deployment execution happens without the need to manually identify and provision individual AWS resources. The AWS Launch Wizard also offers an estimated deployment cost and allows customers to modify resources and instantly view an updated cost assessment.” – 2020 ISG Provider Lens™ Quadrant Report for SAP HANA Infrastructure Services

Another piece of feedback that we have heard from SAP customers of all types is that their AWS migration is driven at least in part by the desire to spend less time deploying and managing infrastructure. In fact, simplifying deployment was a huge factor behind SAP themselves—our first SAP customer—leveraging AWS to build their own products starting back in 2008. For this reason, we have continued to focus on building automation and operational tooling that allows SAP customers to focus on higher-value activities. One of the major milestones in this journey was the release of our SAP on AWS Quick Starts in 2014. This year, we doubled down on these efforts by releasing AWS Launch Wizard for SAP and AWS Backint Agent.

In April, we announced the general availability of AWS Launch Wizard’s support for SAP workloads. AWS Launch Wizard provides a guided experience that allows you to input your SAP application’s requirements, then automatically recommends right-sized AWS resources and a cost estimate, allowing you to deploy production-ready environments for SAP workloads in under two hours. Since its release, we’ve continued to improve Launch Wizard to give customers and partners additional functionality. Most recently, we added support for pre/post-deployment configuration scripts to enable greater customization, and the ability to automate the installation of SAP application software including SAP NetWeaver, SAP S/4HANA, and SAP BW/4HANA helping cut installation times from weeks to hours.

In May, we launched AWS Backint Agent – an SAP-certified backup and restore solution that makes it easy to back up SAP HANA databases. This allows you to back up SAP HANA databases directly to Amazon S3, while leveraging familiar management tools, such as SAP HANA Cockpit, SAP HANA Studio, or SQL commands. In November, we announced the integration of AWS Launch Wizard and AWS Backint Agent, enabling you to configure your HANA backups during the Launch Wizard deployment process.

What is next in 2021?

As we look to 2021, we will continue to help our SAP customers drive new levels of efficiency and innovation around their core business systems. This means we’ll continue supporting choice to help each customer execute the optimal SAP strategy based on their own unique needs—whether that is a lift and shift motion, or one that includes an S/4HANA upgrade. We’ll also continue investing in tooling to give SAP customers a simpler management experience, and a broader set of infrastructure to optimize for different cost and performance requirements. And we’ll continue building a stronger partner community to support our SAP customers throughout their cloud journeys.

How to get started

First, I would encourage you to simply try out AWS Launch Wizard for SAP. There’s no better way to experience a taste of the flexibility and automation that can come by deploying and operating an SAP system on AWS.

If you are looking to do a little research, I would encourage you to read the full report from ISG on why they selected AWS as a leader in their 2020 ISG Provider Lens™ Quadrant Report for SAP HANA Infrastructure Services. You can also watch my presentation Future-proof your enterprise: why SAP customers choose AWS from AWS re:Invent 2020 where I outline many of the trends we are seeing from our SAP customers and why they are choosing AWS. You can also always connect with one of our SAP Competency Partners, or ask your account manager to learn more.

Finally, a big thank you to all our customers and partners as we all navigated the challenges of 2020 together. We are excited and hopeful for what’s to come in the New Year together with you. Stay safe and healthy.