After participating at SAP FKOM (Sales Field Kick off Meeting) a few weeks ago and considering how the current direction of SAP application deployments and design directions will change SAP landscapes over the next few years, I thought it would be useful to draw out what the future may hold for SAP Architects and Infrastructure folks alike.
For the purpose of  this post, I include 3 major SAP application deployment strategies.

  1. Traditional SAP System Landscapes
  2. SAP Cloud Applications (SuccessFactors, Ariba, etc.)
  3. SAP on HANA (BW, Business Suite)

Additionally, we need to consider how customers will adopt models 2 and 3 (which in turn will have an affect on model 1). So, while changes to SAP landscapes have always been driven by triggers like technology refreshes, data center migrations, M&A, upgrades, improvements, optimization, and modernization efforts (just to name a few), customers need to balance a number of things.
On one side we have the desire and urgency to innovate, the requirement to enable the business with processes, data, and tools, the necessity to maximize investments, and to keep the existing business running, Oh, and please make it all mobile of course.
On the other side, customers are wrestling with managing cost, risk, and operational excellence, the consideration of application and platform majurity, the need to prioritize, adapting to change, gathering the right resources in terms of staff and partners, and selecting the right technology, that can fulfill today’s requirements and is equally flexible to support future deployment models.
These are a lot of variables that will drive adoption of SAP’s newer applications and deployment models. Even though I am talking to many SAP/EMC customers that are working on their “100,000 mile service for their infrastructure”. Every organization has a different appetite for change, but at the end, I think we can agree that models 2 and 3 will increase, while model 1 will decrease. To what extend, and at what speed customers will adopt is the mystery Architects are trying to predict. So, let’s play with a few assumptions to be able to represent this change over time graphically.
Let’s assume,

  1. Existing SAP landscapes primarily change when a trigger (compelling event) occurs in an organization. Changes are seldom implemented purely based on technology benefits.
  2. New SAP deployments will probably try to minimize on premise technology (CAPEX) as much as a company’s requirements allow.
  3. SAP Cloud applications will increase in popularity by 10% annually.
  4. SAP HANA on premise adoption will increase by 10% annually.

SAP deployment models over time

Since SAP focuses on HANA, Cloud, and Mobility so much right now in the foreseeable future, I made deployment models 2 and 3 the dominant factors. Additionally, I have considered the information and comments from a related poll I posted on Linkedin. Even though this poll provided higher numbers, I am using a very conservative approach in comparison. Although Mobile is a big focus for SAP as well, there is little impact from a landscape perspective. You dont need much gear to run Mobile for SAP.
After visualizing these assumptions over time, we can see a decrease of traditional SAP landscape deployments by more than 50% after 4 years. In my view, this is absolutely remarkable and definitely something any SAP Architect needs to consider when designing the next generation SAP deployment. Now what does that mean to organizations that are in the process of their “100,000 mile SAP service”?

For starters, I would select infrastructure building blocks that fit into my landscape strategy today and also can provide the basis (pun intended) for future SAP workloads. Such a building block could be the VCE VBLOCK. Wiht the VCE announcement a few days ago, I could now use identical building blocks under the same support model for current and future SAP landscape requirements (traditional virtualized, and HANA). That has a huge positive impact on my operational considerations. Every organization desires to run more efficiently (operational excellence), standardize more and more, and under the best possible TCO. The VCE VBLOCK provides an excellent platform for virtualized SAP workloads and now also for HANA. Since the deployment model of VCE is extremely fast – the company’s entire philosophy dovetails perfectly into SAP’s idea of rapid deployment. Giving your SAP landscape an operational advantage through simplicity, and addresses the “need for speed” for your next urgent additional SAP system landscape.