Per Wikipedia: Cloud computing is a general concept that incorporates software as a service (SaaS), Web 2.0 and other recent, well-known technology trends, in which the common theme is reliance on the Internet for satisfying the computing needs of the users. For example, Google Apps provides common business applications online that are accessed from a web browser, while the software and data are stored on the servers. ISVs/SIs now need to create a Cloud Computing Platform for hosting such Business Applications that can be used by individuals and Corporate. It is also a platform that provide a single source of Information on Cloud Computing Trends and Applications that the world over is using to bring together experts and evangelists to create Information awareness for practical business usage. This platform is available to information-seekers, world-over to access information, collaborate and create applications and explore ideas in a collaborative manner.
The journey with SAP Netweaver was the first step towards that. First, SAP turned itself into a platform vendor. Next came, Certified for Netweaver Applications, then came Powered by Netweaver Applications. Then SOA Showcases that talked to multiple source systems in a heterogenous landscape. Then the advent of ES-Bundles for faceless UIs. The idea is very simple. Create a host of such applications, that would be residing on the same platform and then launch it on a cloud, all these applications that fill in the white-spaces, and have customers buy off applications (primarily cool new UIs as Analytics dashboards and get them hooked. The same approach as one see with Salesforce.com, SAP also launched the dismal BYD. Failed, much ahead of its time and totally messed up by its internal upheavels and change, coupled with equally confused System Integrators, trying to mooch off development work from SAP and thereby making this one colossal mess. But the idea was/is not lost. This spawned the era of Cloud based applications. Rainmakers, welcome to the cloud.
In the past, Innovation focused on improving Productivity and to focus on delivering large projects and building Intellectual Property. Innovation in future will focus on Region, Society, Culture that the customer lives in and be able to enable Information through Technology and bring about Transformation for the customer keeping in mind the conservation of resources
Sample Cloud Application Concept – An Effective Energy Management Cloud based Solution:
For a Cloud-based application that makes customers look at cost-effective “Utility-based” payment services, the applications need to be hosted and useable based on fluctuating metering services. If one takes an example of how energy conservation can be driven across a Business Conglomerate, across Business Units, for all its facilities that need to consider the need for conservation and consumption of energy based on its revenue contribution to the mother ship, consider the following points the need for such an application that can be turned into a Power Grid solution on the Cloud, having a revenue model that can be practically applied. At a time of cost-cutting and revenue crunches and flat toplines, Organizations beed to see how they can cut costs on their energy consumption.
The need for such an application comes in as follows:
Consolidated/Aggregated Energy Usage
- Centralized Capacity/Usage Controls, Optimization and Audit
- Simulation for Alternative Usage
- Scientific selection of Optimized Approach
- Enterprise-Wide Grid for Consumption Pattern
- Compliance with State laws/Regulatory bodies
- Common Visual Analytics
- Implement Stringent Audit and Regulatory Compliance
- Rule-based ROI-driven Governance for Alternative Sources of Energy
- Business Case Builder and ROI Calculations that define the justification for savings and a move to the Cloud
Rainmakers: Introducing the concept of a Power Grid: (Business need)
Picture an Organization stucture with multiple Business Units that are spread across multiple states of a country, governed by different laws. The Cloud-based application has to be scaled to be made into Global Model that can cater to multiple countries. As across the board, this Organization will be working with different rate structures and Consumption patterns that would be governed by the respective laws of the nation/state. While this is being considered, the useage and adoption of Alternate sources for Energy would need to be considered as well. Another key aspect in handling vast facilities that consume energy, the simulation around shifting current energy usage from on-peak to off-peak timing along with a simulated Rate schedule based on current supply would need to be considered as well. In a way, the Switching of suppliers based on State consumption Rules, Country specific rules driven by a strong BPM layer would be the need for creating such an application.
The shift Equipment usage to off-peak time-zones becomes a key factor along with the virtual pay-back measurement with peak shaving of load from one location/floor to another to swap to another facility (similar to the blade server concept), has to be simulated. In order to assess ROI of Alternate, Non-conventional Energy Sources that would allow the Business units to shift Consumption patterns based on Usage area, equipment useage and other such factors must be considered. A virtual metering facility in areas where the measurement of consumption is not possible, or a simulation of the same in such areas to create a pattern for energy useage would need to be a part of the solution. Of course, the standard stuff of integration with 3rd party Software for graphics/and more for the consumption logged by meters, or the measurement of energy usage in Un-metered areas based on Simulation for a cloud-based hosting becomes a part of such a solution.
For the Hypervisors: Technical Architecture:
Now, picture a hosted-On demand Pay-per transaction model for Costing based on Usage that is Cloud-Based, replete with Web 2.0 Application hosted by one of the ISVs/Boutique stores or System Integrators that has the ability to provide a multi-tenancy model through secure hosting in a 24/7 environment that could provide ready-made seamless Integration with 3rd Party Applications across platforms. A good candidate would be guided procedure based Conposite Application, based on the Netweaver Composition environment (Or Microsoft/Salesforce/Oracle/IBM/Google), tied together along with a strong BPM Software Vendor (Cordys), hosted by a hosting agency (Exodus), Secure transactions through a payment gateway (Verisign) that leverages a Service-Oriented Architecture adoption through Virtualization and is based on Open Standards and Open Source Platforms to reduce the dependance on a specific ISV.
An ecosystem comes to play. Useage and availability of Widgets/Gadgets, Wikis, Blog, Twitter, Digg and other Web 2.0 tools for the user community to provide a choice of UIs, the Application Integration could be made available on the SAP Netweaver, IBM WebSephere, Oracle Fusion and BEA for On-Premise Installations as well as Platform Certified Products through the Cloud-Owner. (Read “Rainmaker”). An adoption of the “Utility Computing Model” for ROI and Costing for usage similar to Electricity consumption payment through secure gateway would create an enviable Architecture along with a good Business model for users. Who would buy, implement and host such applications, when the headache of IT Governance and hosting and AMC can be “smart-sourced”? Cloud-Computing does become a reality in the Obama-era, post the Satyam and the PWC failures that would have customers wanting to have their applications to be around in their own backyard, yet the lawn-maintenance be outsourced (read nearshored to places in Europe)
Basically, Health, Energy Conservation (GO GREEN), Education, Food Production & consumption and Secure environment will become important and all this will become possible through Information flow which will become Ubiquitous in a form understandable knowledge wherever anyone exists. Cloud Computing or Cloud Computing++ will help achieve this as everyone should be able to access Information and use that knowledge even if they do not have knowledge of Technology on which the Information is available. Nay-sayers, who take an extremely IT-Centric approach of IT, especially with SOA, fail to realize the vision behind SAP’s approach with NetWeaver. (Shai, where are you?). The vision needs to understood, the philosophy needs to be taken in a sense that shapes the advent of the IT-World moving toward a smaller bunch of Enterprise Architects, not an Architect of coders. Its now the army of the “Un-dead”. (Mummy returns). Such armies of IT Companies that scored in the past with a population, not head-count, driving double-digit sequential revenues upward of 30+% will now not be possible or needed. Syste Integrators will need to restructure their work-force with knowledge experts and weed out the redundant dinosaurs that survive in such organizations, holding on to their jobs, with no skills beyong motor-skills, devoid of any cerebral potential. We see this happenning across the board in the industry.
The age of the Enterprise Architects/BPX is here. So, like the others, I look forward to “Change”, with “Hope” and here’s to gearing up the Global IT workforce beying myopic IT Initiatives that drove toplines. Not anymore. When it rains, it pours!