An unexpected journey from SAP consultant to AWS cloud architect
It has been three months since I decided to completely reshape my career moving from an SAP senior consultant role to an AWS cloud solutions architect role. I knew this was an unconventional move, and several risks were involved in the process, but it has been a marvellous experience so far, and today I can talk with confidence this was the right choice for me.
A lot of my colleagues reacted in different ways when I announced this update, and I believe most of them still don’t get the point of transferring almost 12 years of solid experience in a particular field and restarting fresh in a completely new environment.
The idea behind this personal insight that I am sharing today is to bring enlightenment to some of the factors involved in this decision and also to advise other people that are facing a similar dilemma.
Discovering the Cloud
My first contact with Cloud was through SCP (SAP Cloud Platform) back in 2017, SCP was released in the market in 2012, but it was still a very young solution compared to the major players (AWS, GCP and Azure).
As soon SAP started to establish partnerships with the major cloud providers to deploy their PaaS on their data centres my curiosity increased and consequently I, slowly, moved my focus towards their environments, services and offers.
Finally, in between 2018 and 2019, I had the opportunity to work in a significant S/4HANA implementation deployed on AWS. Initially, I didn’t have too much exposure to the AWS cloud since I was more focused on development, data and reporting, the only advantage I could see at that point in time was the migration workload that is usually related with the SAP Basis team.
The turnover happened when this customer decided to transfer their reporting strategy from SAP proprietary solution to AWS data lake approach. Testifying this customer’s decision gave me a clear view of the potential while combining the best of both worlds, and my curiosity continuously grew over time.
As an SAP consultant participating in this migration project, I remember how confusing communications were between both teams and during the process, I realised how important it was to have an architect with experience in both ends.
At that particular moment, my unexpected journey began.
Moving to the Cloud
Changing to a new career path is not an easy task, especially if you are in your comfort zone for more than a decade. So, at that point, I was questioning myself, how should I start this journey?
The first thing I did was to enter in contact with my network. I scheduled several catch-ups around the city with some of the most talented colleagues in my connections list.
Based on their inputs, I noticed it was necessary to focus on two main items:
- Select a cloud provider only, don’t try to cover all of them at the same time. My choice was AWS because of market share in Australia and the list of services available.
- Study and prepare yourself for the associate level certifications, having a cloud certification is an excellent entry-point for the market and also provides the knowledge base to start as a consultant in the area.
I started this certification path focused on AWS, and in three months, I got precisely three AWS certifications:
- AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner
- AWS Certified Solutions Architect — Associate
- AWS Certified Developer — Associate
With the exposure of the certifications in my online profile, I received an invite to participate in an internal program of a well known AWS consultancy in Sydney. They offered me a mentorship/training program, I was learning even more during this process, and in parallel, I was able to demonstrate my value as a consultant during each phase of the training.
At the end of this program, I received an invitation to join the company, and the rest is history, three months of exciting work with incredible customers, lots of learnings and many plans for the future.
Adapting my SAP experience to the Cloud
So, what about all the experience I had in the SAP space? Is it all gone?
I’m not programming in ABAP or using SAP-related technologies anymore. Still, several skills that I constructed during this journey were adapted quickly to the Cloud Architect role and provided me advantages compared to other consultants, for example:
- Customer-facing skills
- Enterprise architecture experience
- Business processes and communication
Also, the experience as Software engineer and as Data analyst / BI consultant that I acquired while working with SAP contributed a lot to the transition process providing me enough know-how to design solutions for applications or data strategies in the Cloud.
Finally, notice that SAP creates their own technologies in house, but they are usually looking for external references in the market, consequently, since I had a vast background in multiple technologies I was able to grasp new content in a faster way.
The future of SAP and AWS
From my point of view, there are three major areas to explore when talking about SAP and AWS:
- Migration workload: This is one of the most consolidated areas when talking about SAP and AWS. A lot of customers are already running their workloads in AWS and taking advantage of the cloud proposition. A few companies are specialising in this kind of activity, and this market continues growing over time.
- Application extensibility: With SAP releasing their software in a SaaS model, the application extensibility was reshaped, and side-by-side extensibility became an important topic. Different initiatives are running via SAP Cloud Platform with Cloud-foundry for S/4HANA and also with Kyma and Kubernetes for C/4HANA, but in case the SAP PaaS is not the preferable option of the customer, the application extensibility can be done directly in the cloud provider of choice, using their own offerings of PaaS, with custom integrations between the apps and core solutions (e.g. S/4HANA or C/4HANA).
- Data and reporting strategy: Actually, this is one of those areas that I share most of my interest and excitement. Data and reporting strategies outside of the SAP in-house software offerings are becoming more and more common. Since there aren’t any impacts with read-only data in the SAP indirect licensing model, a lot of customers are exploring alternative solutions moving their data and reporting strategies to data lakes and analysing and visualising their insights through different cloud services.
Finally, what about my future?
At the moment, I don’t see a return to the SAP world in the short or long term. However, this doesn’t mean that I abandoned the area for good.
As I mentioned before, I believe there is a lot of potential to combine both worlds and create incredible solutions for the customers, but at this stage, I am fully committed with my cloud journey, and I have a lot of plans in progress.
I hope this blog gave you some ideas of how to start if you are facing a similar transition and I also wish I was able to bring you some kind of motivation to leave your comfort zone and try something new.
If you are interested in some of my previous SAP content, I advise you to have a look in my SAP People profile. I have some exciting blogs focused on different technologies that will give you an overview of the kind of work I was doing before this new role.
SAP People: https://people.sap.com/felipedemello.rodrigues
If you are interested in Data and AWS or more content combining SAP and AWS, stay tuned because I have more insights to share along the way. 🙂
At DNX Solutions, we work to bring a better cloud and application experience for digital-native companies in Australia. We are always hiring cloud engineers for our Sydney office, focusing on cloud-native concepts.
At DNX Solutions, we work to bring a better cloud and application experience for digital-native companies in Australia.
We are always hiring cloud engineers for our Sydney office, focusing on cloud-native concepts.
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