To adapt to the many impacts of COVID-19, organizations are rethinking how they do business. Many are rapidly adopting new business models, processes and technologies. As their operations evolve, a key concern is reducing the cost of IT infrastructure management, as well as increasing the flexibility, resilience and scalability of their technology supply chains. Digitization and the re-evaluation of capital expense (CapEx) investments are two key drivers leading many organizations to look to cloud computing.

Facing pandemic-related challenges and increasing IT infrastructure costs, a leading telecommunications company in Canada explored migrating 10 of its SAP core systems to the public cloud. To test the best migration path, the company decided to first undergo a pilot project involving the migration of one of the systems—SAP Business Warehouse (BW). This first-of-its-kind project for the company, if successful, would lead to a five-year initiative to migrate the remaining nine systems.

Evaluating cloud providers and orchestrating the best migration team

When it comes to cloud technology, one of the biggest questions to answer is which cloud type is best for the purpose—private, public or hybrid? In this case, the client chose the public cloud to access the latest infrastructure and benefit from a flexible pay-as-you-use model, along with scalability, efficiency and agility. It also desired to migrate first to a non-production sandbox environment to reduce risks.

It was imperative, however, that the cloud approach carefully balance the company’s obligations to protect critical data and data privacy, comply with regulation, and mitigate commercial risk. In particular, the company had a strong business need to protect sensitive customer data throughout the customer life cycle—from initial sales and setup through ongoing service delivery.

Having delivered SAP Application Management Services (AMS) to the client for more than 3 years, along with successfully delivering multiple SAP projects, CGI was the client’s first choice for the pilot project. This included working with the client to evaluate leading public cloud providers. Following a comprehensive vendor evaluation, the client chose Google’s Cloud Platform (GCP) based on the platform’s migration ease and flexibility, while meeting security and compliance requirements.

To make sure the client had access to extensive GCP expertise and talent, CGI partnered with Google (in the capacity of a Google Cloud Partner), SAP Canada, and oXya (a subsidiary of Hitachi). Through strong collaboration, consulting skills and technology expertise, CGI orchestrated these partners within the client’s complex environment, harnessing data and security best practices and transforming the client’s technology supply chain for the future. 

Ensuring an agile, cost-effective migration

We first helped upgrade SAP BW to enable the advantages of SAP’s new HANA database. Our team then migrated the SAP BW to the GCP sandbox environment.

The team split the pilot project into two phases. Phase 1 involved building the cloud infrastructure in just two weeks, while Phase 2 involved migrating applications in just four weeks. Typically, this scope of work takes 10-12 weeks.

As the lead partner, CGI worked closely with Google, oXya, SAP and the client team to execute the project using an agile, sprint-based and value-driven approach that delivered key milestones based on continuous user feedback.

Reducing costs, improving the technology supply chain and driving agility

The pilot migration project was a success, with CGI meeting all of the client’s success criteria. Our team is now working to complete the migration within the “live” production environment. Further, the client is proceeding with the migration of its nine other SAP applications, with CGI as its lead partner.

By migrating to the cloud, the client is benefitting from reduced costs and an optimized technology supply chain as it continues to rebound and reinvent through the pandemic. The cloud also is helping it to drive business agility for the future to generate new business growth.