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I wanted to share my impressions and comments to the community about the SAP Virtualization & Cloud Week 2011 event that I had the opportunity to attend, and how such technologies fit with SAP strategic objectives for On Demand and On Premise.

Introduction

   

The SAP Virtualization & Cloud Week 2011 event was held April 12-14 2011 at the SAP Co-Innovation Lab in Palo Alto, California.

First and foremost, I would like to thank SAP (Solution Management and the Events teams) for ensuring continuity and success of this event since 2007 at the SAP Labs Palo Alto. This year, many great sessions were presented focusing about the evolution of the Virtualization technology and Cloud solutions, as well as how customers and partners can utilize those efficiently.

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All sessions and keynote are available in video for replay at the following location.

     

The event welcome introduction was done by Bernhard Schulzki and Gunther Schmalzhaf – both had an ongoing tie contest during the event :-).

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Their informal Mission Statement to the Community was: have your production environment virtualized by 2015!

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Keynote

The event started with a keynote presented by SAP executive Kaj van de Loo (SAP SVP Technology Strategy). His presentation titled Cloud Computing For the Enterprise focused on what SAP Cloud strategy is and how is SAP is going to deliver value internally, to customers and partners.

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Before actually diving into the specifics, Kaj made a few introductory comments:

  • Metrics – 85% of Fortune 500 runs SAP solutions
  • Over the last 18 years, following the Client Server revolution of the R/3 release, revenue per employee metric has doubled
  • For the first time since 2009, more virtual systems have been provisioned than physical ones (Windows / Linux systems)
  • We are now at a similar inflexion point with Virtualization and Cloud computing as when the client server architecture was adopted
  • “Old business models are going away, and new ones are very quickly picking up pace”

 

1- SAP Cloud Strategy

  • Cloud enable SAP On Premise solutions

The goal is to support customer requirements to run existing SAP investments in private/public cloud scenarios using tools and services

  • Build out SAP Cloud offerings

This aspect focuses on the On Demand solutions such as Sales On Demand, and SAP Business ByDesign. Additionally, a platform as a service (PaaS) is to be provided to allow customers and partners to expand solution capabilities, as well as a commercial platform with an App Store model to market SAP solutions

  • Leverage the ecosystem and build alliances with strong partners
  • Invest in the Next Generation Platform

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2- Existing systems on Virtualized and Cloud infrastructure

 

Kaj highlighted some high level characteristics of a virtual infrastructure:

  • Programmable
  • Dynamic
  • Declarative
  • Policy based

 

By efficiently utilizing such a new environment, the following scenarios / use cases for platform / application are or will become achievable:

  • Reduction of physical servers
  • End to end configuration and deployment of applications
  • Auto capacity and availability management
  • Landscape and scenario refresh
  • End to end failover
  • End to end Disaster Recovery (DR) management
  • Billing and reporting

 

Additionally, the following ongoing SAP efforts were also mentioned:

  • Establishment since last year and growth of the Cloud Services Provider certification program with 20+ partners certified to date
  • Adaptive Computing Controller (ACC) and Project Stratus are being merged to become SAP Landscape Management solution, and should be available by end of this year (ramp-up)
  • Usage of a Cloud infrastructure / Marketplace within SAP for instant access to pre-installed & configured SAP solutions (800+ SAP system templates) resulted in significant cost savings due to wait time reduction effect for multiple organizations consuming those services (i.e. development, sales, consulting, etc.)

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Frank Stienhans demonstrated SAP’s internal usage of its Cloud technologies:

  • SAP internal cloud marketplace Silver
  • SAP marketplace for solutions virtual images (i.e. ECC, CRM, BusinessObjects, Portal, CE, etc.)
  • Usage of cloud for load testing applications such as SAP StreamWork
  • View of usage trends but limited usage predictability

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3- Next Generation Business Applications

Considering the explosive data growth generated by today’s applications (blogs, twitter. gene sequencing), what business solution can be build today with this new infrastructure model that could not be built before?

 

A possible answer is to enhance the application stack that would scale in the same manner as the infrastructure, thereby allowing flexibility and elasticity as part of its design.

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Juergen Schmerder demonstrated a PaaS solution code named River that SAP is currently developing:

  • On Demand application development platform – not a product at this point of time
  • Currently runs on Amazon cloud, but soon on SAP’s Cloud
  • Suited for simplified custom business applications development (vs. Business ByDesign platform for larger business applications)
  • Development is model driven, with integration to SAP Gateway, StreamWork and BI on demand

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To conclude his keynote, Kaj told the crowd “SAP can do simple things in a simple way. When did you last hear that?”.

Sessions

Following the keynote, more than 40+ sessions were planned over 2 tracks (most are available for replay at the URL indicated above):

  • Current      and Future Technology Trends (how cloud computing will change the look of      tomorrow’s datacenter, which SAP and SAP partner technologies to use to      manage SAP solutions in cloud and virtual environments, what the overall      virtualization and cloud Infrastructure strategy is for SAP, how to      support the hybrid cloud computing model bridging private cloud and third      party cloud providers)
  • Real      World SAP Operations (how virtualization and cloud computing is becoming      the natural way to deploy enterprise applications, how customers maximize      TCO savings with virtualized SAP environments, what you can learn from      customers who’ve implemented virtualization and cloud infrastructure      technologies, how to build private cloud environments, which help drive      down costs while increasing flexibility and service levels, how      virtualization and cloud computing can help your IT Operation to reduce      the CO2 footprint)

   

Panel Discussion – Cloud Computing: What’s Next?

 

An evening reception with a panel discussion (moderated by Rich Miller – Telematica – CEO) took place with the following members:

  • Kaj van de Loo (SAP)
  • David Girouard (Google)
  • Lance Berc (VMware)
  • Simon Crosby (Citrix)
  • Lew Moorman (Rackspace)

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From left to right: Lance Berc, Simon Crosby, David Girouard, Lew Moorman, Kaj van de Loo

 

During the course of the discussion, I compiled the following summary independently of each panelist comments (the replay of the panel discussion should be available on the event web site).

What is the impact of Cloud computing?

  • Virtualization is the pinnacle of Cloud computing
  • Ability to virtualize large enterprise environments
  • New Silicon valley investment model due to lower capital IT funding

What are the barriers to the Cloud for organizations?

  • Trust, reliability
  • IT organizations resistance to change
  • Leap of faith in Cloud provider data security practices
  • Data privacy laws requiring more specialized policies

What do you consider surprises that took place over last 2 years?

  • Green computing not becoming the low hanging fruit
  • Still confusion about Cloud – too much about marketing vs. elastic environment
  • Explosion of mobile device market

 

What is next?

  • Greater efficiency and flexibility
  • Data more secure in the Cloud than most of private data centers
  • Ability to develop enterprise applications that will leverage cloud model and reinvent the enterprise consumption
  • New business models for existing industry based on Cloud computing
  • Enterprises embracing device platforms for Cloud consumption of information
  • New distribution model for software vendors
  • End to end data encryption
  • Data usage traceability and removal

Again, many thanks to SAP for organizing this great event!

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