SAP Commerce Cloud is the promising foundation for your e-commerce platform. But what are the concrete benefits of this solution? When is it worth migrating to the cloud and how does this work in detail? Markus Scheffknecht of valantic CEC Schweiz tells us all this in an interview and reveals what else you should know about migration to the SAP Commerce Cloud.
What are the benefits of SAP Commerce in the cloud?
There are a number of advantages, especially the clear cost structure. SAP Commerce on-premise involves a number of items, from the cost of SAP Commerce to operating system license costs, supporting software, and hardware to run this supporting software. It takes people to maintain the monitoring software, and so on… there are a lot of small items for various services, licenses, and hardware. With SAP Commerce Cloud, there is only one cost point, and this is usually based on sales or the number of orders in the online shop.
- Other benefits of the cloud solution, in my opinion, include:
- Critical updates of the underlying software components are included, which guarantees high availability.
- Fewer people are required for 24/7 support.
- Instead of general system administrators – who usually also have to take care of desktops, printers, and mail servers – dedicated experts support SAP Commerce hosting.
- It is a proven and tested secure solution, operated in a highly efficient data center. SAP Commerce Cloud scales automatically when needed, providing a good user experience even at peak loads.
Is the cloud migration worthwhile for small and medium-sized applications?
Yes, even those looking for solutions for small and medium-sized applications benefit from the SAP Commerce Cloud. Among others, the following best-practice services are available “out of the box”:
- Zero-downtime deployments
- Centralized log management
- Monitoring of services with the high-end solution from Dynatrace
- 2FA authentication for admin users
- Artifact handling, snapshot, rollbacks, and disaster recovery
What are the challenges of cloud migration?
We often find the following starting point: SAP Commerce solutions have often been in use for several years. There are usually various integrations and front-end features, but also technical functionalities for high-performance, secure, and stable operation.
It’s clear that customers are asking themselves questions such as:
- What happens when you migrate to the cloud?
- Which of the existing processes need to be adapted?
- Is there a standard approach to migration or does everything need to be rewritten?
- Where are the pitfalls?
As usual, there are no generally valid answers to these questions. Each project is unique and requires an individual solution. Nevertheless, there are some cornerstones that are useful for orienting migration. The procedures chosen are usually similar. What is different is the time and effort that is invested in the individual tasks.
1. Code-based assessment
The first step is to check the code base, i.e.: We analyze the existing environment including the add-ons in the software and integrations.
With a structured approach and the right questions, implementations that cannot be migrated one-to-one to the cloud become apparent quite quickly. Typical is a limitation of the use of additional software (third party libraries). In most cases, this kind of software can be easily replaced by additional cloud services.
2. Infrastructure assessment
A change in hosting also causes connections to the integrated systems to change. In addition to security, the time for calls to the integrated systems must be taken into account. The change can be positive, but also negative.
Background information: The SAP Commerce Cloud is hosted in an Azure data center. The data center in Amsterdam is currently being used for Europe; it is very well connected. So the connection between the customer and the website can be established very quickly, regardless of where in Europe the customer is located. This can lead to better connections.
The situation is different for SAP Commerce systems, which are tightly integrated into an ERP system. Here it is important that the communication between the systems works quickly and directly. Migration to the cloud can result in longer response times for connections between systems.
During the assessment, changes in this regard should at least be identified. Whether they are relevant or what their effects might be can be reviewed at a later date.
3. Process assessment
System management is changing with migration to the cloud. An example is the implementation of deployments:
Zero-downtime deployments are available directly in the cloud, which are usually only implemented on very large on-premise systems, because these would be too much work for smaller installations. When implementing deployments, certain aspects have to be considered, such as the fact that there may be upstream quality control processes. Or that changes are being made to SAP Commerce and other systems at the same time.
Requirements such as these must be taken into account.
How is the cloud migration performed?
This part of the project is based on the concrete results of the assessment described above. It is therefore very individual and can therefore only be described in general at this point.
After the analysis and creation of a project plan, the change of codes and structures starts. Certain services are replaced, and alternatives implemented. At this point, we are looking at whether existing solutions can be replaced by standard implementations or whether new features can be used directly. Perhaps it is possible to cut off a few old pots and thus be better positioned for future requirements?
Ideally, a corresponding test concept exists to test the changes in the cloud automatically or manually.
After the software update, some of the data may also be revised. Here, adjustments are often necessary. If the development takes into account SAP Commerce best practices, there are no big hurdles to be expected. The inconsistencies have to be identified and can often be corrected automatically afterwards. This turnaround time should be planned, especially if migration of multiple environments is planned.
At the end of the migration – after all code changes, updates, and tests – comes the day of the migration. You will see: With appropriate planning and testing, the risk of migrating to the cloud can be minimized.
Summary: What are the benefits for customers after successful installation of the SAP Commerce Cloud?
- The platform meets various requirements that are normally only used for larger installations.
- SAP continues to develop the cloud platform: With each update, features for even better operation are added. Often these updates can be used by a configuration – or at least they can be implemented easily. Instead of having to take care of the systems, the focus can be clearly placed on developing customer features.
- Commerce platforms are becoming more fit for the future: SAP has announced that in the future there will be features and integrations that will be available exclusively in the cloud.
- When your business is thriving and sales are growing, the operation of the commerce system is one parameter fewer that is important to keep in mind. Available system performance increases with success.