Centrica Builds a Cloud-Native Foundation with SAP HANA Cloud
The energy industry is continuously evolving. Centrica, a multinational energy and services company, strives to be a leader in this transformation with two main purposes: Satisfying the changing needs of customers and enabling the transition to a lower-carbon future.
Centrica’s enterprise services rely on an extensive SAP systems landscape that includes various SAP products; SAP ISU, SAP CRM, and SAP S/4HANA being the flagships. These systems process:
- 60 million total transactions daily
- 30K+ payments daily
- 145,000 customer logins daily
With the business-critical nature of the SAP systems’ workload, Centrica has to maintain a robust, highly available, and redundant architecture that ensures the business channels that depend on the SAP backend enterprise systems continue to be functional during periods of planned maintenance.
In recent years, one of the main pillars of Centrica’s strategy for its SAP estate has been around the move to the cloud. This included an initiative to modernize an essential part of their integration platform.
Centrica initially elected to use SAP HANA Service in Cloud Foundry to be at the heart of this design. With the recent introduction of SAP HANA Cloud, Centrica quickly opted to migrate to this new capability that unlocks extra cloud-native features. Being well-integrated into SAP Cloud Platform and part of the SAP ecosystem was considered as another great advantage of SAP HANA Cloud.
The capabilities of SAP HANA Cloud align with a number of Centrica’s strategic goals, such as reducing costs to serve our customers as well as rationalizing and simplifying our operations.
Lloyd Smith, Director Enterprise Systems and Services
Challenges: Defining the Data Problem
Historically, the SAP systems have been implemented in an on-premise landscape which while supporting the data needs, posed problems during outages and maintenance periods. The implementation of the cloud-based digital integration hub, including SAP HANA Cloud and SAP integration suite have provided the means to support business operations during on-premise backend system maintenance.
In any complex IT landscape, maintaining on-premise systems with high-availability and data retention systems, including very large database systems, is a challenge that can be alleviated by transitioning to the cloud. On-premise systems typically hinder agility and innovation.
Centrica has been an early adopter of cloud technologies and with this, they started by pinpointing the crucial components that can be modernized with the objective of harnessing cloud benefits such as reducing cost, increasing flexibility, latest technology, and low maintenance.
Combining the need for high availability and integration, Centrica decided to implement a digital integration hub system. At its core, the design needed a reliable database that would cater for strict requirements around fast data access as well as high availability and cloud capabilities such as scalability and zero maintenance. SAP HANA Cloud made this possible.
Going Hybrid with SAP HANA Cloud
Transforming a landscape of systems into the cloud is challenging and needs a staggered approach. This means a hybrid landscape will be required for the transitional period, which may necessitate approaches using some or all cloud models (i.e. IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS) along with leveraging the existing on-premise assets.
Centrica’s digital integration hub enables a cloud-native solution incorporating integration solutions across both internal and external systems and services. These solutions are designed to work across all of the deployed models (IaaS, SaaS, PaaS, and on-premise). Being at the foundation of this solution, SAP HANA Cloud enables this digital integration hub with its cloud-native capabilities.
The scalability of SAP HANA Cloud helps achieve this in a cost-effective manner. With the addition of self-service capabilities, provisioning, setup, and configuration become simple tasks. SAP HANA Cloud has become the steppingstone for the transition into the cloud and the foundation amongst the systems of the SAP hybrid architecture.
Innovative App Development
Building applications is critical in order to utilize the data that has been migrated to SAP HANA Cloud and with the native development capabilities in SCP, it was relatively straightforward to develop applications.
Centrica upskilled their developers to gain skills in cloud application development and HANA development areas so that they can develop applications in the Cloud Application Programming (CAP) model. This way, valuable data can be easily exposed via OData services. Data can be efficiently accessed by external/internal consumers via SAP API Management and by customer/employee digital channel frontend applications. Centrica now has several cloud-native applications that run on SAP Cloud Platform and access/persist data in SAP HANA Cloud.
Centrica transitioning their SAP estate to the cloud is a journey. Knowing that, they position the foundational components by designing and building solutions for the future. With the ever-evolving new landscape made possible by SAP HANA Cloud, Centrica takes full advantage of cloud features while making maximum use of their on-premise assets.
Centrica understands the value of data and the importance of keeping its quality high and making it efficiently accessible. That’s why they aim to make sure the data is stored in the best storage options. Achieving this with SAP HANA Cloud helps Centrica strive to provide excellent customer services and supports the overall goal of reducing their carbon footprint.
Whether we’re building innovative apps, connecting data from many sources, or exposing data for consumers, SAP HANA Cloud gives us the cloud-native capabilities we need for any use case.
Serdar Simsekler, Head of SAP Cloud (Architecture and Strategy) at Centrica