Centiq Brings Experience Of 10,000 Hana Instances To Microsoft Azure
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Centiq Brings Experience Of 10,000 Hana Instances To Microsoft Azure

Centiq, the specialist responsible for SAP’s first Hana projects in the UK, recently announced a partnership with Microsoft Azure that is already delivering results for some of the largest companies in the UK. We had a chance to catch ups with Centiq's CEO Matt Lovell to find out more about what kind of answers the deal provides for the SAP community and their transformation projects.

The news reflects the increasing diversity of the UK’s cloud landscape, and the growing status of Hana and S/4 Hana as the new standard for transforming businesses’ core processes. In recent research of 250 businesses, Centiq discovered that nearly 70% found Hana delivered ROI, with 75% of projects finished on time, on budget, or both. In fact, 99% said it was a driving force for innovation.

However, the skills gap also loomed large in the findings, with 86% of respondents reflecting that they still felt confused about areas like licensing and direct access. Matt Lovell, CEO at Centiq, describes how this alliance is a crucial part of piecing this puzzle together: “The time when the questions were ‘why’, ‘what’ and ‘when’ to move to Hana has evolved — today, it’s now about ‘how’ they should approach the transition. And this question only becomes more complex with the range of options available today, particularly critical systems such as SAP ECC.

According to Matt Lovell, the answer is to work with teams who have been there and done it already. That is what helps Centiq confidently expand from our SAP heritage into Microsoft Azure, where public cloud is often the most effective option. When combined with Centiq’s expertise in optimising Hana and S/4 Hana performance and automating processes, this simplifies, de-risks and accelerates the business advantages to be had.

Licensing and (in-) direct access

Even with SAP’s new pricing and licensing model, uncertainty remains a widespread problem in the SAP community. Matt Lovell notes that most users purchase the standard licensing because, although the professional license includes indirect data access, it can be difficult to justify versus the cost. But meanwhile, most other competing products already have this capability. And high profile compliance fines like Diageo show the company is constraining users rather than driving adoption. Ultimately, this causes concern and confusion that leads users to consider other routes and platforms instead of SAP — so this is a counterproductive strategy.

Centiq’s CEO also stated that the functionality differential between license types needs to be reviewed to support the user need for other data sources and SAP needs to move quickly to reposition the benefits and commitment for eager customers. Hana presents awesome capabilities, which can enable significant competitive and cumulative advantages – but the feedback loop is clear from users here. Centiq hopes to see SAP recognise and reflect more of this feedback in their next iterations and announcements.

Centiq’s cloud options

There are multiple challenges that customers face when opting for a public cloud deployment of Hana. Drawing from his experience in successful Hana projects, Matt Lovell is able to narrow these down to two key challenges: the first is the realisation that a simple “as is” transition to the cloud will typically be no more effective than the previous solution. To get real benefits, the mindset must be one of challenging every individual process in order to successfully transform existing workloads and enable the agility and flexibility on offer here.

The second challenge is that most businesses underestimate the resources required to commit to this transformation properly to get the true benefits and promise of the public cloud. Large enterprises often have such massive legacy environments that the transformation and migration is a significant undertaking – especially if they are to ensure as little disruption to the business as possible.

When it comes to hybrid deployments, again there’s often a misunderstanding of how much it will cost to maintain that setup too – and with the same poblem that no or too little thought to updating processes and infrastructure will put the expected benefits at risks. Ultimately, TCO analysis will still provide the clearest guidance and and it may well be cheaper to deliver the same outcomes through private hosting or on-premise services.

The advantages of Azure

For Centiq, strategic blueprints are a crucial means to helping get businesses set up and optimised, often involving a suite of software and integrations to create a truly repeatable process. This is absolutely key to making enormous transformation projects more seamless and predictable. Matt Lovell notes that Microsoft’s partner ecosystem around Azure has really helped facilitate creating a richer and more reliable Hana experience.

Integrated client and device software gives comprehensive Office 365 and interface support, enabling faster data analysis with SAP Analytics for Office and Hana Analytics for Office. Azure also means larger instances with more choice and greater insights into integrated Microsoft SQL workloads. They have more data centres globally and a more widely published roadmap for where they will expand next. They also have more people ready to engage with customers and more account managers that can help users with those services. That is why Centiq firmly believes Azure is currently a great fit for the kinds of key Hana transformation projects they specialise in.

Great response at Tech Week

Centiq has also been hand selected for Microsoft’s flagship SAP/ Azure event for London Tech Week, where attendees could learn more about the advantages of the platform on London’s South Bank. Matt Lovell says that the response was amazing: “It really brought to life how the promise of Hana can solve problems across organisations and industries. It also gave those leaders immense confidence in the potential of critical workloads operating on public clouds, if you can go “all in” as discussed above.”

Centiq’s CEO also noted that, most of all, the world’s largest businesses are becoming increasingly clear on the agility and flexibility that the cloud is now making a reality. Previously, SAP implementations may have taken 5-10 years and now, it’s down to months and with far less risk and downtime. In areas like customer experience, greater personalisation and responsiveness, insights and understanding – it’s now clear that the IT department can drive the transformation of the business toward its most important objectives.


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