Cloud Delivery models come in various forms. At one end of the spectrum we have fully on-premise model with the servers behind the corporate firewalls, while fully on-demand (or hosted) solution on a public cloud model occupies the other end of the spectrum. In between these two extremes lies the Hybrid Cloud model. In this blog, I shall attempt to discuss some of the compelling use cases that are making Hybrid Cloud models increasingly popular as a Cloud solution delivery approach.
Non-production workload migrated to Cloud, with Production retained on-premise – Many large enterprises have already made significant investment behind their own data centers and there are still concerns about the performance, security and availability of cloud solutions provided through cloud vendor’s data centers over the internet. However, at the same time, often all the SAP servers (across the landscape) have been sized to their maximum capacity, thus leading to sub-optimal utilization of the computing resources on an average level. Hence when an enterprise nears its end of life-cycle for their current hardware, it evaluates the option of getting better ROI from its hardware investments. At this point of time, enterprises can choose to retain their production workload in-house, while the less critical non-production workloads which used to run earlier on dedicated but lesser utilized non-production servers are migrated to the cloud. Thus the lesser utilized infrastructure is no longer retained on-premise, while the non-critical workloads running on the non-production servers are migrated to the Cloud. Such a mixed model calls for a Hybrid set-up. The ‘pay-as-you-use’ cloud subscription model is seen as more cost effective e.g. if a test requiring massive server capacity needs to run for few hours, enterprises can only pay for this capacity for the duration of its usage if they are provisioning the testing environment on cloud.
Increasing effectiveness of Testing based on Cloud solutions – Testing has continued to impose various challenges during SAP implementation, releases and upgrades etc. One of the common challenges with traditional on-premise landscape is the lack of availability of a Testing environment with data almost similar to what we have in the Production environment. There is not enough ROI to maintain a Training server / infrastructure with capacity close to that of Production environment, since the same is not used optimally before any major go-live, release etc. Hence it makes sense for some organizations to provision their Testing system on the cloud where a copy of the production data is made to create a Test system on the cloud (assuming that there is secure connectivity between on-premise and the cloud environment). This enables the organization to test (both integration test and regression test) their changes in an environment that is very similar to the actual Production environment. After the test cycles are completed, this Test environment can be decommissioned. Thus the organizations can avoid the capital expenditures along with the maintenance efforts of any on-premise Training environment.
Integrate leading SaaS solutions with on-premise backend SAP systems – SaaS solutions are gaining in prominence as they offer best-in-class solutions for specific business functions which otherwise would take a longer time to build / implement in-house. At the same time, there are a significant number of organizations with an investment behind on-premise SAP / ERP solutions. Hence there is always a need to find out an option to see if organizations can leverage their investments behind an on-premise solution, while at the same time using innovative solutions on the cloud. For example SuccessFactors BizX is extremely popular for its offerings around Talent Management (covering areas like Recruiting, Performance, Compensation, Learning etc.), Workforce Analytics etc. Hence, under the Hybrid model we can expect to find organizations using SAP ERP HCM on premise for some of the core HCM processes but using the SuccessFactors HCM suite for talent management, workforce analytics etc. The acceptability of such a hybrid model is gaining prominence with emerging integration technologies. For example, SAP’s rapid-deployment solution for SAP ERP HCM integration to the SuccessFactors Business Execution (BizX) can automatically transfer HR data (employee information, compensation data, and workforce analytics etc.) from on-premise ERP HCM system to the SuccessFactors instance in the cloud. The RDS enhances the speed and reliability of data transfers between on-premise and cloud solutions with help of mapping templates over customized files. Similarly there is other popular integration technology like IBM WebSphere Cast Iron that offers easy integration (based on configurable integration templates, rather than customized codes for integration) between SAP and other cloud-based solutions like IBM Kenexa, Salesforce.com etc.
Before I conclude this blog, I would like to mention that the suggestions or thoughts that have been put up here are my personal opinions about Hybrid Cloud model related benefits, based on my self-study / research of several articles / white-papers and blogs etc.