For over three years, I have had the privilege of leading the SAP solutions on Azure business at Microsoft and of partnering with outstanding leaders at SAP and with many of our global partners to ensure that our joint customers run one of their most critical business assets safely and reliably in the cloud. An ERP system has served as the digital and financial backbone of how organizations operate for several years, but that’s been especially true during a pandemic when e-commerce and supply chains play a crucial role in supporting our societies, economies, and front-line workers, whom we owe a lot to.
When COVID-19 hit, Coats, the global thread manufacturer running SAP HANA on Azure, used its agile system to redirect resources and work with suppliers to produce PPE. “When it comes to our customers delivering PPE, we can’t be late, so we rely on SAP and Microsoft to provide the digital backbone that’s essential to keeping our supply chain running smoothly. The combination of Microsoft Teams with our SAP solutions has given our employees the ability to work from anywhere while ensuring orders are delivered on time to our customers supporting the people putting their lives at risk working on the front line,” said Helge Brummer, Vice President, Technical Infrastructure, Support, and Operation for Coats.
SAP and Microsoft have had a deep partnership for more than 25 years. Microsoft was recently also awarded an SAP Pinnacle Award for the second year in a row. In January 2021, Microsoft and SAP jointly announced the expansion of our endorsed cloud partnership to introduce new offerings around cloud automation and integration for SAP S/4HANA on Microsoft Azure along with the integration of Microsoft Teams with SAP’s intelligent suite of solutions. Microsoft CEO and SAP CEO showed up on stage at SAP’s RISE event to share a joint vision for the future of productivity that will help customers transform the way they work and connect with their customers.
Customers broadly favor Azure when moving on-premise SAP S/4HANA to the cloud
Thousands of customers have trusted Azure to run their SAP solutions. When SAP’s own IT department wanted to move its critical internal business systems to the cloud, it assessed the major hyperscalers and chose Azure. In fact, a 2020 SAP Insider survey showed that Microsoft Azure (47 percent) remains the primary platform respondents look at when deploying SAP S/4HANA in a public cloud environment, followed by Google Cloud (21 percent) and Amazon Web Services (18 percent). Another study by DSAG also showed that SAP customers broadly favor Azure.
As we mark another year of participation in SAPPHIRE NOW, we want to share customer stories to showcase why so many SAP customers prefer Azure to run their SAP solutions.
With Azure, customers can unlock critical business insights from their SAP data
Now more than ever, customers are benefitting from the ability to tap into insights from their SAP data on Azure. By combining SAP and non-SAP data and applying advanced data services, such as analytics and AI, customers are extracting real-time and predictive insights for improved business outcomes. Customers are visualizing the data using Microsoft Power BI and building low-code apps and workflows with Microsoft Power Platform.
By analyzing SAP data on Azure, retailers are modernizing their in-store experience with real-time inventory management, CPG companies are tapping into changing consumer behaviors, and manufacturers are gaining real-time insights from their factory floors to build more agile supply chains. For instance, Walgreens the global pharmacy retailer migrated 100 terabytes to SAP on Azure, a move that enabled it to improve its customer experience as employees were better able to track and manage inventory resulting in customers being able to find the products, they were looking for faster.
By migrating its SAP systems to Azure, Kennametal, the global manufacturer was able to surface previously hidden data that it is using to make better decisions and respond in real-time to manufacturing issues, resulting in a 50 percent decrease in press setup time and a 50 percent increase in press availability. In its factory, Kennametal is using industrial presses with IoT sensors that gather operational and performance data and transmit it through Azure IoT Hub for centralized storage and processing. Employees—from the shop floor to the top floor—use Power BI dashboards to gain greater insight into performance and production.
Coca-Cola UNITED, one of the largest bottlers and distributors of Coca-Cola products in the United States, runs its SAP solutions on Azure. It uses the tight interoperability of Power Platform with Azure to extend its capabilities to build data connectors using Azure Logic Apps, which have been particularly useful in building integrated SAP solutions. “Power Platform has allowed us to break free of the challenges we had with custom code and innovate quickly on top of our legacy systems,” said Bob Means, Director of Business Solutions for Coca-Cola UNITED.
With Microsoft, customers are betting on innovation that drives digital transformation
Microsoft is in the business of innovation. We are not competing with our customers’ businesses in retail, healthcare, banking, or manufacturing. In fact, according to a 2020 IDC survey, 86 percent of customers report they’re very satisfied that Azure isn’t a source of competitive threat. When customers run their SAP solutions on Azure, they are trusting Microsoft’s ability to partner with them in building a future in which they can better connect with their customers, improve operations, and develop better products. We help our customers connect the dots across systems, places, people, and organizations: A great example of how we are delivering on this vision is the story of Anheuser-Busch InBev, the beverage company, which we recently shared at Microsoft Build.
By choosing Azure, customers can innovate with Microsoft services they already use
By running their SAP solutions on Azure, customers can seamlessly use SAP apps and data with Microsoft Teams and Office apps in Microsoft 365 to improve collaboration and enhance the user experience. As part of our partnership with SAP, we are investing further in integrating Microsoft Teams across SAP solutions. Over the last year, many of our customers have benefitted from the agility that comes with combining SAP solutions with Microsoft Teams. For instance, using Microsoft Teams coupled with SAP solutions helped Walgreens overcome business continuity challenges and enable employees to collaborate very effectively despite the shift from office to remote work during the pandemic. One of the reasons Carhartt, the iconic apparel maker, chose Azure was an already well-developed relationship built on the company’s wide use of Microsoft solutions, particularly in the areas of productivity, collaboration, and data. “The combination of SAP and Microsoft was especially helpful during a challenging time,” said John Hill, Chief Information Officer for Carhartt, which was in the middle of its SAP implementation when the pandemic struck and used Microsoft Teams to keep the project on track.
With Microsoft, customers have access to best-in-class hybrid solutions
SAP customers’ choice for Azure is driven by Microsoft’s leading hybrid cloud solutions—from the edge to the local datacenter to the public cloud. “Microsoft understands the hybrid world; it’s in its DNA. It provides a unique enterprise readiness that works best for us while also pressing on with innovation,” said Joerg Bruch, Global Vice President for IT Operations at SAP, which had moved 42 of its landscapes to Azure by the end of 2020 and is scheduled to move another 21 during 2021, making Azure its platform of choice for every new department.
When Campbell Soup Company, the iconic food company, wanted to pick a cloud for its SAP solutions, it picked Azure after evaluating various providers—one of the reasons Campbell opted for Azure is that it found a much stronger solution in Microsoft hybrid cloud offerings, which aligned with its roadmap to reduce on-premises hosting requirements.
With Azure, customers achieve cost savings and improved return on investment (ROI)
According to the 2021 Total Economic Impact Study by Forrester Consulting, customers running SAP solutions on Azure can achieve a 112 percent ROI, a 30 percent reduction in time-to-market for new operations, and a less than six-month payback period. When ServiceNow, the professional services software company, moved its business-critical SAP estate to Azure, and was able to achieve an 80 percent reduction in deployment cycle time and a 40 percent reduction in TCO.
The Forrester study also highlighted that companies can free up time from IT maintenance and use it to drive business growth and innovation. When Chobani chose to run its SAP S/4HANA and other SAP applications on Azure, it freed up time to focus on producing delicious nutritious food. “By choosing SAP on Azure, we gain best-in-breed capabilities while focusing on our customers,” said Parag Agrawal, Chief Information Officer for Chobani.
Customers trust Azure for its enterprise readiness and unmatched security and compliance offerings
A 2020 IDC survey found that 90 percent of customers believe Microsoft understands their enterprise technology and industry-specific needs. When L’Oréal, the number one cosmetics brand in the world, wanted to move its SAP solutions to the cloud, it chose Azure after considering three cloud providers. The move improved performance, lowered costs, and decreased its resource footprint. “Azure is enterprise-ready and high-performing… using Azure will help us better understand where there are opportunities to create greater sustainability across our entire ecosystem,” said Michael Kingston, Deputy Group Chief Information Officer and Chief Information Officer for L’Oréal Americas.
Customers also benefit from Azure security services, backed by 3,500 cybersecurity experts, and the industry’s largest compliance portfolio. “With Azure, security and compliance is state of the art, including its firewalls and policies,” said Bruch.
As we look ahead, we are committed to creating solutions in response to the needs of our global customers—some are starting to define their post-pandemic growth strategy, some are just emerging from the pandemic, and many are still in the middle of it. As we wrap this year, we also wanted to share some of the new solutions and products we launched recently.
We look forward to seeing you virtually at our sessions at SAPPHIRE NOW this year and hopefully in person the next year.