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The Open Cloud Manifesto

Today, SAP and other companies initiated a conversation about how cloud computing can best provide value to our customers.  The Open Cloud Manifesto describes principles that will help customers who choose cloud-based solutions to achieve expected benefits, while still receiving enterprise qualities, protecting existing investments and permitting cloud provider choice.


Cloud computing enables flexible on-demand scaling of some applications, with significant aspects of development, deployment and management handled using cloud services.  Having IT infrastructure grow with the business simplifies planning and lowers costs, which is particularly valuable for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).  The Open Cloud Manifesto recognizes the importance of broadly-accepted cloud standards without compromising technical innovations such as those in RESERVOIR.  Availability of Open Clouds should support interoperability and portability across different cloud providers, using cloud services for infrastructure and management. 

SAP has always been committed to delivering industry-leading businesses solutions that meet enterprise customer requirements. The Open Cloud Manifesto initiates an open dialogue among cloud vendors, enterprise application companies and customers that could help achieve this for cloud computing.


I want to personally invite the SAP Community to share your thoughts about the Open Cloud Manifesto. You can do so by editing the document on the Cloud Computing Wiki, or simply by responding to this blog. I am looking forward to hearing from you !

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  • Thanks for sharing. As mentioned in the Open Cloud Manifesto website, while the ‘cloud’ definition is often debated, it is in fact a combination of grid computing, utility computing, SOA, Web 2.0, and other technologies. And considering that SAP’s latest application platform is based on SOA so therefore can run on adaptive and virtualized infrastructure, the whole concept of Cloud Computing has very good potential for bringing value to customers (if not for developers and BPXers in the immediate future, it will eventually become more important to them as well, if we take into account the direction SAP is going with things).

    Keeping this in mind, it would be very beneficial for SAP developers and BPXers to increase their awareness/knowledge in relating to the infrastructure component on which these applications run, since they are much more interconnected in a Service-Oriented Architecture (Business Suite/ECC) than they are in a client-server architecture (R/3).

    This would definitely help them in creating high-performance solutions for their clients, so would seem to be a win-win for everybody.

  • While I believe in the potential ability of clouds to scale up and down, the whole idea is a bit "cloudy" to me - as in too many questions in my mind make this unclear.

    1. What is in it for software vendors? or in other words - will individual vendors like SAP,IBM etc own and control the APIs that are needed? If they don't and if things are truly open - why are the software vendors in this game?

    2. Second question is on standards - for this to catch on, some one needs to develop standards. Who is the some one? Will separate alliances form and will we end up with multiple standards?

    3. While it is a grand idea that an entire supply chain can share data on the cloud - can't they do that in the non-cloud world as well if standards exist?

    4. What is the security paradigm for clouds? Will this be standardized as well?

    Maybe I am not fully grasping the concepts yet - but I would surely appreciate some one setting me straight on these.

    • Hi
      Thanks Vijay for posting questions in a neat way. Infact, I too wanted to clarify few things similar to what you have asked.
    • To you question #2 and #3, having been involved in standards organizations for quite a few years, I can tell you from direct experience not to count on "standards" as a solution when you're attempting to "standardize" lots of legacy into some new business or technical scenario.  It just doesn't happen.  The "inertia" of existing vendors works against successful efforts, and more often than not, the time that it takes (usually measured in years) to get a watered-down specification that satisfies all of the participants also waters-down the potential benefits.

      Regarding cloud/non-cloud for extended PLM/supply chain apps, I don't think that it can be successfully achieved "behind the firewall", given that the data is so widely dispersed and spans so many business boundaries.  Look at the challenges that EPCGlobal has encountered, for example.

      • Rick, I see your point on why one shouldn't count on standards in this scenario. What I don't understand is how it will work across several vendors and disparate data, if there is no consistent standard.

        About the PLM example - it is a valid argument. However, isn't the real reason for this failure more due to a reluctance of players to share? and if so, do you think that moving computing to the cloud will make them think differently? My own bet would be that they will be more paranoid about shielding data if they move to a more shared environment - and will end up beating part of the purpose of the cloud.

        • ...the key will be "customer pull".  If customers demand this functionality and refuse to buy software/service from "closed" vendors, it will ultimately happen.  There will inevitably be "fees" for "adapters" and such, but the capability can be realized if a) the business value exists and b) customers insist upon it.
  • I suppose the first question I'd posit here is "where's the problem"?  Cloud computing is so nascent and evolving, that I suspect the Open Cloud initiative is a pre-emptive attempt to anticipate the risk of vendor lock-in for "resources in the cloud" scenarios.  I don't see anything new being proposed, however, for "services and applications in the cloud" scenarios, beyond some already well-known issues related to security/authentication, location independence/dynamic endpoints, service protocols, and other issues that are essentially "generic SOA" challenges.

    While there may be value in standardizing the API's for service provisioning, metrics/billing, monitoring, and management, I think that in the end, it will be SLA's and affordability that determine choice of provider.

    An interesting discussion and dialog to have, attempting to anticipate future issues, but it would be wise to avoid creating specific answers to indeterminate problems.

  • The killer app for cloud computing would surely be a true semantic network - architected to capture data, structure and relationships in one self-referential homogeneous unit, and implemented to prefer the most popular pathways through the relations as a reflection of community "use" scenarios.  SAP already owns the meta representaion of a significant proportion of global business data - transposed to a semantic cloud this could underpin an entirely new paradigm for knowledge management and render traditional relational and hierarchical models obsolete.
    • Precisely, Peter.  The ultimate issue isn't about provisioning computing resources.  It is about solutions that solve fundamentally interesting business problems that bring real value to customers.

      A great example that fits into the semantic network concept that I've always felt would be a true "killer app" for SAP is one of "cradle-to-grave" PLM, tracking a unit of production from design, to procurement, to production, to distribution, to selling, to servicing, and to disposal.  The sources of information in this scenario would likely span many business boundaries and often many systems, lending themselves to a cloud-based solution with semantic bindings between the subsets of information that make up a product's "life".  There are very few companies that could capitalize on this type of opportunity, and SAP is clearly one of them.

      There is nothing fundamentally "magic" about cloud-based applications, but there are some fundamental challenges in areas such as security and granular access to information(when all of the data does not live in the cloud), semantic linking, service consumability to put this information to work and to enable new business processes, and so on.

      This is a topic we were exploring when I was with SAP Research, and one that I hope will see life and investment within SAP.

  • So here's my conjecture on cloud standardization:

    If it's about infrastructure as a service, aren't the clouds naturally going to become something like the operating systems of the future (somewhat based on existing operating systems, too). If it's about platform as a service, aren't the clouds going to be the future application servers? If this is roughly true, I would expect the same diversification and convergence processes that we have seen for on-premise operating systems and app servers. That's because essentially the same forces should be at work.

    And applications as a service (including business software on-demand) are going to be just as diverse as applications are now...

  • As an SAP Technical Consultant, I'm as hardware, OS, DBMS agnostic as SAP itself - no more, no less.

    I've already implemented and supported late model releases of SAP NW7 on virtualised systems (vmware and citrix).  While my technical knowledge of CLoud archetechture is limited to AWS, I can see it being little more than 'extreme virtualisation'.

    There ARE issues with IT contracting to provide production services to the business via the cloud, as their (IT's) control of the environment is reduced, but in essence this is what happens when they outsource the datacentre anyway.