We regularly write about SAP products and digital transformation to share some of the research data we’ve collected. Typically, we tend to focus on the features and updates to the “building” without talking about the foundation and framework that makes up the IT infrastructure needed to support these advances.

Over the last year, we've been conducting research studies about the infrastructure of SAP-run businesses and how that ties into perceptions or plans to run SAP HANA. Based on what we've learned, we have gathered the top seven insights that emerged.

Insight 1: Infrastructure excellence starts with having the right people. Just over a quarter (27 percent) of responding organizations self-identify as industry leaders on infrastructure. One thing of note about these leaders is that they feel better prepared to handle changes in technology. Only 35 percent of respondents believe they are adequately staffed to adapt to changes. Yet among industry leaders, a full 58 percent say they have enough support on hand to meet their technology needs.

Insight 2: Infrastructure laggards aren’t prepared to deal with technology changes. On the other hand, half of those who believe their companies are behind on infrastructure (50 percent) also feel like they can only manage what’s currently on their plate. This means there's no chance that they can take on new initiatives like cloud migrations or an SAP S/4HANA transition. Devoting resources to infrastructure may be more critical than many decision-makers realize. And these resources may need to expand to meet the needs of special projects.

Insight 3: Security is a key infrastructure concern, while storage space and access are not. When asked to rank their concerns about infrastructure, 45 percent of SAP users identify security as the number one issue. Despite the exponential increase in enterprise data that's generated, organizations are telling us that the need to manage storage, access, or user controls is not as much of a priority. At least for SAP customers, safety trumps availability.

Insight 4: Infrastructure change is designed to increase agility. When we asked about drivers of infrastructure change, “new business initiatives” was the primary reason for 50 percent of ASUG members. It’s not surprising many are moving to SAP HANA with the hopes that it makes their business more agile and adds the flexibility to run other SAP-based workloads.

Insight 5: Not everyone who has purchased SAP HANA is ready to run SAP HANA. Almost half (48 percent) of ASUG Members define themselves as SAP HANA customers. The designated operating system for SAP HANA is Linux, yet only 35 percent of members say Linux is the primary operating system for their databases. Clearly those two numbers don’t add up, meaning there will be more than a few migrations to Linux from Unix- or Windows-based systems happening in the next few years.

Insight 6: The motivation for an SAP HANA move is strategic first, not tactical. When we asked customers about their primary motivator for moving to SAP HANA, the top two reasons are “corporate strategy for digital transformation” and “to ensure compliance with new SAP environment requirements.” Benefit-driven needs like faster analytics or transactional data are not driving this change. This is consistent with the drivers of infrastructure overall, but it also signals a mentality that is more about keeping up with technology changes than it is about prioritizing tangible benefits.

Insight 7: Future migrators are a bit more certain about their cloud plans than their on-premise plans for SAP HANA. We learned that 26 percent of future SAP HANA users are planning a cloud-only implementation, while 32 percent are staying exclusively on-premise and the other 41 percent are planning a hybrid (on-premise and cloud) strategy. Yet when we asked about provider consideration, more than half—51 percent—of those using on-premise in some form have yet to consider a single infrastructure provider. Those who make those evaluations now may be in a better position to get the support they want and need than those who delay the search.

If these insights align with infrastructure struggles you are facing at your organization, make sure to check out the ASUG Education Zone at SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG Annual Conference this year. We have more than 20 sessions available that are focused on these topics. Join us to learn how others are approaching their infrastructure strategy and getting their foundations right.