CONA Services Logo
Industry: Technology
Location: United States
Download Full Story

CONA Services pioneers SAP automation with SUSE & Microsoft


  • Delivers SAP system builds 99% faster.
  • Improves quality of SAP system builds by 90%.
  • Reduces cost to build an SAP system by 60%.
  • Frees resources to develop hyper automation.
  • Accelerates system reboots by 76%.
  • Improves work-life balance and supports the workforce of the future.


In 2016 the six largest Coca-Cola Bottlers created CONA (Coke One North America) Services LLC, an information technology services company designed to leverage the latest technologies and data standards to help streamline operations and improve the bottom lines of North American bottling businesses. Today, over 80,000 employees across the United States and Canada rely on CONA Services for everything from human resources to warehouse management and finance. Its systems process $21 billion of revenue each year with an average of 30,000 users logging into the platform each day


As a testament to the power of open source in supporting customer-led innovation, CONA Services took the lead in deploying and contributing to the SAP Deployment Automation Framework (SDAF), an open source project framework crafted by Microsoft in collaboration with partners like SUSE. Designed to adapt to any user environment, SDAF simplifies any process related to SAP builds, whether migrating to SAP S/4HANA, migrating onto Azure cloud or simply building an SAP virtual machine. CONA Services collaborated with Microsoft, SUSE and SAP to create the tool for migrating its own 24TB system, one of the largest in the world, from on-premises AIX servers onto SAP S/4HANA in Azure Cloud with SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. What follows is how the tool came to be.

Challenges in running a multifaceted, legacy SAP system

After having been promoted as CONA Services’ Director of Cloud Engineering for a few years, Uday Reddy embraced CONA’s cloud migration strategy and started to plan the migration of its systems, the most significant of which would be the migration of its SAP ECC system to SAP S/4HANA in Azure in April of 2024. When the SAP S/4HANA journey began in 2022, SAP’s migration deadline of 2027 was still five years away, making the move inevitable, but Reddy also identified this as an opportunity. 

Reddy began his 17+ year career under the Coca-Cola umbrella of companies as an SAP Basis administrator and has worked with SAP systems, in some form or another, throughout his tenure. He was, therefore, acutely aware of the pitfalls in running SAP systems, especially for the ever-growing bottling companies. 

As Bottlers acquire more customers, they hire more people, and their demands on CONA’s systems continue to climb. Systems going down meant lost revenue, but tracking and maintaining system performance diverted time and resources from innovation. 

Additionally, five teams had to be involved for every new SAP system build: the Unix team, the Windows team, the network team, the SAP Basis team and the cloud team. Each team had their tasks to ensure that the new system would work, but sometimes a step would get missed, or a key team member would leave, taking their knowledge with them. The project would then get delayed, upending service level agreements, as the team tried to find and apply the needed fix, if not rebuild the system from scratch. Even if no issues occurred, the process would take three to four weeks to complete. 

With these challenges in mind, Reddy saw the upcoming migration to SAP S/4HANA as an opportunity to radically improve the quality, reliability and cost of CONA Services for its Bottlers. His objective was threefold: to shift the organization from a classical approach to an agile based approach; to replace repetitive tasks with automation; and migrate on-premises systems to Azure cloud.

“SUSE was crucial to CONA’s successful migration to SAP S/4 HANA in Azure. Their team became one of the integral partners for CONA’s S4 upgrade and migration. Their solutions and their team were always available through dry runs and go-live to work through any opportunities. We all benefitted, as I’m certain others will, from the open collaboration.”

Customer-led innovation: SAP Deployment Automation Framework

CONA Services had already worked with Microsoft on a previous Azure cloud implementation, so Reddy turned to them again to kick off the project in 2022. Quickly thereafter, CONA, Microsoft and SUSE held their first workshop, and four months of learning ensued while the team developed an open source automation tool designed to facilitate migration processes. CONA learned from Microsoft and SUSE, but more importantly, the two technology partners learned about CONA’s needs and standards. 

As the project evolved, this partnership noticed the value its volley of ideas produced. If sharing feedback could lead to a better tool, why not widen that feedback loop to include the open source community? And, if this tool could benefit CONA, couldn’t it also benefit other organizations? 

When asked why they chose to use an open source toolset, Reddy states: “It’s about giving back to the community. If other companies are using SDAF, then they’ll come back and share ways it can be improved that we didn’t think of. We’ll get a chance to learn from them, and we’ll be better off because of it.” 

Thanks to the collaborative efforts of Microsoft, partners like SUSE, and the open source community, the SDAF was launched to general availability in January 2022. This innovative solution, available on GitHub, empowers organizations to seamlessly deploy, configure and install SAP solutions from inception to completion, extending beyond the confines of the SAP system itself. Uday Reddy’s strategic vision and leadership played a pivotal role in leveraging the SDAF solution to streamline CONA’s operations, demonstrating the potential of open source collaboration in enhancing enterprise IT infrastructure.


Microsoft relied on SUSE in many ways throughout the project. SUSE helped build the Ansible scripts for SAP deployment automation and laid the foundation for integrating SDAF with SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) for SAP Applications. SUSE also helped Microsoft incorporate customizations to fit CONA’s needs. 

But the relationship between SUSE and Microsoft goes back to 2006 when the two organizations entered into a collaboration agreement that continues through today. Their original intent was to improve interoperability between Windows and Linux, particularly in enterprise environments, but several other innovations spawned from the agreement. SUSE was the first to optimize its Linux kernel for Azure, making SLES a multimodal operating system that provides enhanced performance and faster boot speeds in Microsoft’s cloud. Users of SLES on Azure can also get full support from both companies. 

SUSE has also been in a strategic partnership with SAP for over 20 years. SLES for SAP Applications, a tailored version of SLES that optimizes SAP solution performance, is one of few partner technologies that has received the coveted SAP Endorsed App certification. It was also the first Linux distribution qualified to run SAP S/4HANA and SAP HANA. As a result of these and other milestones, SUSE continues to be SAP’s preferred Linux partner for running its applications. 

However, setting history aside, SUSE’s commitment to open source ethos is what made it the ideal partner for developing SDAF. “Our goal was to look for an open source tool that can help us with SAP automation,” says Reddy. “Fortunately, the open source initiative from Microsoft and SUSE has helped us to simplify end-to-end automation of our SAP system builds as part of our SAP S/4HANA journey. They have been very receptive to our feedback throughout the development process.”


The impact of collaborating with Microsoft and SUSE 


CONA Services is using SDAF to migrate its systems from on-premises ECC, which runs on DB2 (on AIX), to SAP S/4HANA on SLES for SAP Applications on Azure. It completed the migration and is live in production as of April 2024. A brainchild of customer-led innovation, SDAF has made an impressive impact at CONA Services with several notable benefits. 

Delivers SAP system builds 99% faster 

Thanks to SDAF’s end-to-end automation, CONA Services has been able to accelerate its pace of transformation with faster SAP system builds.

“It used to take us three to four weeks to build an SAP system,” says Reddy. “Now, we can deliver within three to four hours. That’s 99% faster. It also used to take one to two weeks to build a virtual machine setup with operating system, but we can do that now within three hours.” 

Improves quality of SAP system builds by 90% 

For Reddy, delivering faster was not as important as improving quality. Using SDAF, Reddy has been able to automate the repetitive tasks required from the five different teams to build an SAP system. The Unix, Windows, network, SAP Basis and cloud teams are still involved while building an initial template to validate all the parameters, but after that, SDAF takes over. 

“The teams check to make sure that all the naming is aligned. Then, they click the button, and automation begins,” says Reddy. “Now, every time we deliver a box, we have the same quality, whether it’s production or nonproduction. There is no difference. We could say it’s a 100% improvement, but we’re still optimizing the system for additional teams, so we say it’s a 90% improvement in quality over our manual processes.” 

Reduces cost to build an SAP system by 60% 

Because teams aren’t spending as much time working on building SAP systems, the cost of each build has dropped by at least 60%. These saved resources and materials freed Reddy and his team to redirect efforts into innovative technologies and strategies. 

“We suddenly had more resources to invest in adopting an agile approach, implementing DevOps practices,” says Reddy. “Instead of having our teams work on repetitive tasks, we redirected them to work on enhancements for better service delivery to our customers.” 

Frees resources to develop hyper automation 

One of the most strategic projects Reddy and his team are working on is hyper automation. This is particularly important for scaling systems in anticipation of spikes in CPU (central processing unit) usage, which is becoming more unpredictable as Bottlers continue to grow their businesses. Reddy and his teams now have the bandwidth to proactively work on implementing a hyper automation solution, ensuring stable customer experiences. 

Accelerates system reboots by 76% 

A major benefit of working with SUSE on this project is that CONA can now reboot its systems in record time. CONA’s system is a 24TB SAP HANA node, one of the world’s largest, and to bring that system down would take more than one and a half hours. Bringing the system back up would take another hour, leading to around two and a half hours of downtime. Given that downtime impacts revenue, rebooting the system would be a painful process, but Coca-Cola Bottlers won’t have to suffer such losses, thanks to SUSE innovation. 

“SUSE has developed a fast-dying option that enables us to kill our systems within 10 to 15 minutes and to start them in less than 20 minutes,” says Reddy. “SUSE is also helping us optimize how to failover quickly with Pacemaker.” 

Improves work-life balance and supports the workforce of the future 

Because of SUSE and Microsoft’s commitment to delivering customer-led innovation, Reddy has been able to improve efficiency and cultivate a healthier worklife balance for his teams. 

As CONA’s work culture evolves, Reddy’s focus on automation is nourishing innovation and forward-thinking, meeting the expectations of the incoming Gen Z workforce. “While we once relied on traditional roles like Windows or Unix admins, we’re now embracing the future by hiring developers skilled in infrastructure as code,” says Reddy. 


What’s next for CONA Services LLC? 


CONA Services’ future is paved with innovative plans. The intention is clear: to save valuable time, diminish potential errors, and significantly enhance efficiency across the board. Its partnership with SUSE is instrumental in achieving these goals. 

CONA is currently testing SUSE Manager to apply updates to its Ubuntu environment. SUSE Manager is the only IT management tool that can manage over 16 Linux distributions from a single console. “If our tests are successful,” Reddy comments, “We plan to utilize SUSE Manager extensively for live patching after our migration completes. It represents a significant step in our automation and optimization journey.”

Furthermore, the company isn’t limiting its automation tools to SAP system builds alone. Reddy and his team are actively working to incorporate this automation framework into its operations, including the development of new application servers to support CONA’s ever-growing user base. 

The global anticipation for CONA’s advances is palpable. Many other Coke One organizations from around the world are eager to learn from CONA’s SAP S/4HANA successful migration to Azure; seeing as it is one of the largest, ready to discern and adopt its trailblazing practices. 

Reddy states, “I’m very happy to say that we are now using the framework for all systems, nonproduction and production systems.”