The Rigors of Hosting, Managing SAP

The Rigors of Hosting, Managing SAP

SAP’s enterprise resource planning software is notoriously arduous to deploy. And it turns out that hosting SAP as a SaaS (software as a service) application is no walk in the park either. As SAP's Sapphire conference kicks off in Orlando, Fla., we checked in with Symmetry Corp. -- one of 19 SAP hosting partners in the United States. Here's a look at managed SAP environments and potential SaaS opportunities ahead.

Symmetry announced an expansion of its SAP managed services a couple of months ago and earlier this month (May 2010) outlined its service model for hosting. Dan Wilhelms, Symmetry’s president and chief executive officer, recently discussed hosting with MSPmentor.

“What’s different about the SAP environment is these are very large database applications,” he explained.

Wilhelms noted that it’s not uncommon for his clients to have a terabyte of data storage associated with the SAP database and hundreds of users accessing the system.

The nuances of running the SAP environment can elude hosting firms, which tend to focus on the data center and servers, Wilhelms added. He said mission critical SAP applications are complex to operate and require application management expertise. In addition, hosting vendors may employ shared infrastructure models that aren’t well suited for large SAP systems, he added.

Against that backdrop, here’s what Symmetry offers:

  • Dedicated hardware for each client’s SAP operation.
  • The ability to move a customer’s SAP servers to Symmetry’s hosting facility.
Wilhelms said this approach lowers the bar for getting into hosting, since  customers don’t have to invest in new infrastructure.
  • Fixed-rate contracts based on rack space.
Wilhelms said hosting vendors with pricing models designed around shared infrastructure often levy backup charges on a per-gigabyte basis. Companies with heavy storage demands can end up paying tens of thousands of dollars per month on backups.

Symmetry believes its model will help convince more mid-market firms to consider SAP hosting. Wilhelms said the company is finding traction for its services among companies migrating from other SAP hosting vendors and those that wish to offload the complexity of their in-house SAP environments.

Symmetry is also encountering hosting business through SAP America and resellers working with customers deploying SAP for the first time. Wilhelms said those buyers wish to “avoid the agony” of running the SAP infrastructure.
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