Moving SAP and other legacy apps to the cloud

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Before we dive-in for thoroughly understanding the topic of discussion, let’s discuss a few things that are composing it; SAP, Legacy apps and Cloud.

 

SAP: SAP is an acronym for Systems, Applications, and Products. SAP is popularly known for its ERP or Enterprise Resource Planning as well as Data Management programs. SAP incorporates the key and crucial business functions of any business entity.

 

SAP consists of several modules like: –

  • Financial Accounting
  • Controlling
  • Asset Accounting
  • Sales & Distribution
  • Material Management
  • Product Planning
  • Quality Management
  • Human Resources

SAP collects and combines the related data from these modules and provides the business entity with the required enterprise resource planning.

Credit: Cloudoye.com

Legacy Apps: These are those applications (software programs) that are outdated or obsolete, but they’re still functional. Although operative (only in code) these applications might project instability owing to specific compatibility issues with present-day operating systems, web browsers and information technology (IT) infrastructures.
To overcome this shortcoming and keep the legacy app running, their existing code/program is converted to modern and more efficient codes having compatibility with the present-day technology and programming languages. Legacy apps have a significant drawback that even a minor change to the existing legacy app’s system may result in slower performance, higher resource consumption and more frequent app crashes.

Cloud or cloud computing can be understood as a shared platform of computer systems and high-end services that can be distributed with the involvement of the least management effort. Cloud relies on sharing of resources to achieve coherence and scalability. The main advantage of a Cloud system is that it enables the businesses to focus on their core functions while saving their expenditure on computer infrastructure and maintenance. Cloud-services providers use a “pay-as-you-go” model. For this, the administrators need to be well familiarized with cloud-pricing models otherwise the model implementation may lead to unexpected operating expenses.

The rapid growth of Cloud and cloud-based services is due to the availability of high-end networks, low-cost computers & storage devices, adoption of hardware virtualization & service-oriented architecture along with autonomy in utility computing.

Thus, for now, we are quite accustomed to the topics and sub-topics of discussion. Let’s now understand the concept behind the migration of SAP and Legacy app to the cloud platforms. Cloud-services providing platforms can be either public or private. The movement of apps is not always a piece of cake. The biggest technical concern is posed and projected by the compatibility issues; and that too by the legacy apps. Their legacy app architecture is a bit tricky to deal with. However, few successful cases have still kept the ray of hope shining for them. The initial challenge with the legacy apps is that of the consumption model. Public cloud offers an elastic model (where customers pay for the resources consumed by them), but nearly all the legacy apps work on a static infrastructure. But, there have been some elastic use cases for legacy apps in the ephemeral environments like Test, Development, Break Fix & DR. To make a legacy app compatible for an existing OS (Operating System), a web browser or an IT infrastructure, one has to make serious efforts to clone the entire data, make certain hardware-related provisions and perform thorough integration testing and security audits.

Credit: t-systems.com

While we’re discussing the migration of data (also called Application Modernization) of SAP and legacy apps to the cloud-based platforms, we cannot avoid the root concept behind it – the Data Abstraction.

Data abstraction is the only reason why the old legacy apps are still in the functional status. It is a process of reduction of a particular portion of data to a simplified representation of the entire code. Or, in other words, data abstraction is the procedure of removing the incompatible characteristics (in the form of coded data chunks) from the source code to reduce it to a set of essential and compatible components. Thus, in this way, legacy apps and obsolete laws remain functional on present-day operating systems, web browsers and IT systems.

However, a thing of primary concern here is that while removing the incompatible code blocks, we also need to append some synchronous data to make the data appear complete. So, during the abstraction process, we incrementally add data portions to create the final system.
Modernization of SAP and Legacy versions of apps requires a lot of hard work since they are custom-built as a single unit. Lack of modular approach in their design includes a tight coupling of features such as associated data, security provisions, networking configurations, etc. So, it’s difficult to upgrade/change a desired portion of the data; even for a small change, the process is very time-consuming. Tools like CloudFormation, VMware, SAP Landscape Management, etc. often suffer from “tool fatigue” owing to hard integration work to stitch all the changed/modernized data chunks with the existing data block. Achieving cohesiveness is yet another challenging task apart from abstraction.

A single solution to the difficulty faced in migration and abstraction of SAP and legacy apps is to take a modular approach while abstracting the data. This further opens new doors of less tedious and less time-consuming data modernization processes that will be developed 5-10 years later, on account of the introduction of evolved OS platforms, web browsers and high-end IT infrastructure units. The modular approach of app designing/coding will give the developers an upper-handed advantage to make quick progress with all the possible changes (minor and significant both).

Time is money; so are saved resources!

As new businesses and startups, you need to have a modernized approach to the ever-progressing technical realm. If you miss out on a chance of taking a single step at the ripest time, you might be pushing your business several years back. So, rise above the level of obsoleteness and get your stored SAP and legacy app data migrated to the cloud-services providing platforms ASAP!

About the author

Kalyan Gali

A technology evangelist who has played the role of virtual CTO of over a dozen tech start-ups globally, with several of them now becoming renowned names in their verticals. I’m a digital professional, leader and strategist. Most of my colleagues and gurus say am expert in business communications, product management, User product design, startup strategies, creative direction and process design.

I love making new networks or professional tie-ups. You can reach out to me if you want to talk numbers, technology, usability or movies.

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