S/4 HANA migration: strategies for smart cost reduction

It’s possible to avoid excessive in-memory storage costs, reduce the transition time, and boost ROI, by being more discerning about record archiving, says EASY Software’s Antonio Del Negro                        

In 2025, SAP will withdraw support for its widely-used SAP R/3 enterprise resource planning software as part of its strategic move to S/4 HANA, SAP’s new, high-performance business suite based on the SAP HANA in-memory database. Its customers are expected to migrate to the new platform over the intervening years.

It’s likely to take most companies 2-3 years to migrate all of their documents, data, and business objects (such as invoices), and customised business processes, to the new platform, so preparations need to start now. And the more content that resides in organisations’ existing relational databases, the more complex and costly the transition will be.

Counting the cost of migration

It isn’t only the migration itself that will be expensive: storage space in S/4 HANA will represent a significant leap too. Previously, organisations had the option to run other databases behind SAP, but S/4 HANA dictates the use of the high-performance SAP HANA in-memory platform.

The considerable benefits of this include significantly faster data processing, enabling companies to do deeper analyses of their operations and make more insightful business decisions.

Yet this capability comes at a cost. SAP will bill for every gigabyte of storage space on the HANA database – whereas previously the cost of licensing was not influenced by capacity consumption. Typically, organisations can expect a like-for-like storage cost 3-5 times higher than with classic SAP.

Taking back control

Fortunately there is no need to migrate all historic documents and data to the SAP HANA database. Indeed, the current preparation period is a good opportunity for organisations to review their historic business records, and determine what can be archived – so that it is still readily available and easy to access, yet does not consume costly in-memory capacity in the new S/4 HANA world.

One of the options to help reduce the cost, complexity and time involved in migrating to S/4 HANA, is to harness intelligent archiving to take care of older content which does not need to be stored ‘in memory’. By sorting and archiving documents, data and business objects before the migration, organisations have an opportunity to simplify and substantially reduce the cost – and time – involved in moving to the new platform.

Benefits include:

  • Smart avoidance of excessive new in-memory storage costs, priced by the gigabyte
  • Return on investment within as little as a year
  • Condensed migration time: move documents in the space of a weekend, minimising disruption
  • Retained ability to access all documents and records via a simple web interface, even where content has been moved to cheaper, archived storage media
  • Automated compliance with internal information policy and regulations such as GDPR, via SAP Information Lifecycle Management (ILM), with the right integration

S/4 HANA won’t be a simple transition, but why make it more challenging, more protracted or more costly than it needs to be – especially when there is so much to be gained on the other side?

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