Has the risk/reward ratio finally flipped for SAP application modernisation?

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A couple of recent high-pressure test cases suggest that now is the time to bring your plans out of the drawer and step on the gas, no matter the industry.

If you tried to think of a couple of industries that have less in common, you’d be hard pressed to think of two further apart than aluminium production and payroll services. Yet, both Tomago industries [they are Australasia’s largest aluminium smelter and Tambla [a SaaS payroll solutions provider based in Victoria] found themselves staring down deadlines to modernise and migrate their SAP infrastructure.

Application modernisation is a little bit like puppies and sunshine - you won't find anybody opposed to the idea. However, the practicalities and perceived risks of updating or upgrading fully functional and often mission critical legacy software systems usually gives pause to even the most ambitious CIO. After all ‘if it ain't broken why fix it?’ Especially when so many critical business functions and customer relationships rely on uninterrupted service and the industry is awash with cautionary tales of migrations and upgrades taking much longer than expected or going off the rails completely.

Has the risk of doing nothing become greater than the risk of upgrading?

While not every business will face the hard deadlines imposed on Tambla and Tomago, the general consensus is that the push for efficiency, productivity and security means the clock is ticking for any organisation operating on legacy systems. Tambla’s own deadline was a result of a business acquisition.

As Tambla CIO Richard Mitton explains: “Right in the beginning of 2020 we acquired a SAP payroll practice to complete the offering, from timesheets through the payroll. They're running SAP, an older version of SAP, which represented a high technical risk for our customers to continue some of these aging platforms. We also had the two data centres that all this equipment was in, being shut down 3 months after we acquired the business. So, we had these event horizons of both primary and secondary data centres being turned off. We had built in our own urgency at that point.”

For our aluminium producers in Newcastle, Tomago, the deadline was just as pressing. “We had an SAP contract in place for an SAP partner managed cloud and we were approaching the end of that agreement. We thought it was a good time to actually test the market” recounts IT Superintendent Dennis Moncrieff. “We ran through that process and we made the determination that the best option was to bring it home - because prior to the partner managed cloud, SAP had existed on premise on the smelter. When we gave notice on our cloud contract, that triggered a 90 days exit That's not a lot of time to bring back an ERP that's existed in the cloud for five years.”

Why is now the time to modernise your legacy applications?

Many organisations find that a large share of legacy workloads, underlying platforms, technologies, and traditional development practices are holding back business agility and innovation. This is a direct result of the era in which legacy systems were developed: before the rise of cloud computing, cloud-native development practices, Linux containers, and other technological advancements. However, many of these workloads are still business-critical and represent significant long-term investments. Retiring or replacing this infrastructure is often an unpalatable thought for many parts of the business.

This leaves organisations in a difficult position, needing to balance the necessity of maintaining these systems with the desire to innovate, meet new customer expectations, and address new opportunities. These legacy applications can require so much time, budget, and resources to maintain that they become a significant obstacle to innovation.

Additionally, maintaining applications written across languages and deployed across various platforms poses a challenge to resources as one department may be maintaining monolithic Java applications or services on platforms such as .Net or Cloud Foundry. While these applications and platforms can be unified and standardised, an organisation must adopt an open hybrid cloud approach to succeed.

The purpose of application modernisation is to bring agility back to legacy applications by migrating them to a modern platform, breaking up monoliths into smaller easier to maintain components like microservices, applying modern software development and deployment practices, and integrating old with new.

How do you minimise the risks to maximise your modernisation upside?

The first step is to try to avoid executing your modernisation program during a global pandemic and nation-wide lockdown. Unfortunately for Tambla and Tomago, this wasn’t an option. While the world hopes never to go through such a massive disruption again, the reality is that all businesses face obstacles, disruptions and roadblocks that can rob your modernisation project of support and momentum. The key is to work with an on the ground partner that is just as committed to the project's success as you are.

Tambla and Tomago both had experience with Red Hat and their widely recognised Ansible Automation technology. They were looking for a partner with real depth technical expertise in SAP modernisation and cloud migrations and turned to Advent One to help them meet their equally challenging quests and timelines.

Both organisations were impressed with Advent One for ‘putting their money where their mouth is’. Advent One use Ansible Automation within our own environments and have tried and tested the technology before implementing in our customer’s.

According to Advent One CTO Talor Holloway: “The Red Hat technology is a massive enabler for what we do and we've adopted it heavily in our own managed services environment. We've been using it for some time and had a lot of success with it. What we found works for us is if we make it our own success with it first and then go and demonstrate how it can be successful with our customers.”

Helping you maximise the value of your IT investment.

With over twenty years of experience, Advent One joins your team with the expertise that you need to succeed. We help Australian businesses streamline development, build agility and efficiency, and maximise the value of your IT investment.

Advent One is well positioned to help organisations migrate and evolve aging applications and workloads onto agile, cloud-native infrastructures.

Modernising SAP workloads enables a secure software supply chain with a modern, scalable approach to securing the entire application platform stack—from operating system to container to application. Security becomes an integrated part of the application lifecycle, rather than an afterthought. The result is an increase in application availability, scalability, and performance.

Thousands of organisations – from SaaS payroll providers to heavy industries like aluminium production - rely on Red Hat’s software solutions to future proof their applications and IT infrastructure. By building on Red Hat’s leading platform technology, modernisation and migration tools, these businesses are able to make modernisation decisions with confidence. Crucially, the expertise provided by on the ground partners like Advent One ensures these projects are delivered with a proven methodology, using proven pre-built services to speed adoption success and maximise the IT investment quickly.

Even if your business is not facing an immediate and immoveable deadline, now is the time to start investigating where the risks and rewards really lie in terms of modernising your infrastructure.

Don’t take our word for it – learn more.

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