It is important to understand the maturity levels of the cloud-enabled applications that are either consumed or offered. This can enable enterprises to establish a roadmap for increasing the cloud-maturity level of their business, by incrementally adding features to their cloud-enabled solutions. In my opinion there are five levels of cloud readiness from the perspective of running SAP on cloud, and in order of increasing maturity-level they can be listed down as follows –
- Level One of Cloud Maturity– in this stage the organizations have been able to Virtualize the platforms by running their SAP applications on virtualized shared infrastructure. Different hardware vendors have different solutions around virtualization. SAP Note 1492000 lists the different virtualized solutions that are supported by SAP e.g. the note mentions that based on the OS type, different virtualization solutions and technologies are supported for running SAP applications e.g. on IBM AIX platform we can leverage Support of IBM Dynamic LPAR and micro-partitioning (Note 1002461), PowerVM Live Partition Mobility (Note 1102760), SAP Installations in AIX WPARs (Note 1105456) i.e. workload partitions which are easier to manage and provide more granular resource utilization compared to LPARs (refer to the website: http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/aix/library/au-wpar61aix/)
- Level Two of Cloud Maturity– in this stage the organizations have been able to Standardize the periodic tasks associated with the routine life-cycle management activities (e.g. system clone, copy, refresh etc.) for the SAP systems that are running on virtualized platforms. This helps them to reuse those tasks among all the SAP applications and thus increase the reliability, repeatability of performing those tasks. Besides, there is an increasing standardization of the platforms / images on the applications are running.
- Level Three of Cloud Maturity– in this stage, Service Catalog feature is made available for the IT services through self-service portals with service catalogs, using which users can place requests for execution of different tasks. This helps to increase productivity of the users and enable them to understand the costs associated with the services. It helps to increase transparency of the service offerings. Besides, this gives the cloud providers a roadmap for increasing the automation of their offered services, thus enhancing the business agility / velocity of the cloud service-consumers.
- Level Four of Cloud Maturity– in the stage the tasks available on the service-portals are increasingly Automated. This leads to faster cycle times (i.e. reduce the time it takes to refresh, clone, start/stop, copy SAP systems etc.) and further lowers operating expenses as manual intervention is reduced to a minimum. For example using SAP Landscape Virtualization management (LVM) tool, which is shipped as an add-on to SAP NetWeaver 7.3 -SP03 or higher as per SAP Note 1783702. One can automate tasks like System Clone, Copy and Refresh etc. We find from SAP Note 1783702 that LVM can even be integrated with solutions from popular virtual service providers e.g. VMware, Amazon (AWS), IBM Hardware Management Console, IBM Systems Director etc.
- Level Five of Cloud Maturity– in this stage the cloud-based services should provide features for Metering and Monitoring the consumption of the services and the underlying IT resource, thus allowing allocation of cost per department or subscriber of those cloud-enabled services. For example, for organizations that are consuming SaaS (Software as a Service) can reach directly this level of maturity without coming through the earlier stages, since under SaaS pricing model there are typically monthly subscription fees or per-user monthly fees for a specific contracted length of agreement. For other cloud-service models like PaaS (Platform as a Service), billing can be based upon parameters like network bandwidth, CPU time per hour, stored data etc. For example, on SAP HANA One (hosted on AWS, this is a PaaS offering from SAP) subscribers can get immediate access to a 60GB HANA One instance (refer to the website : http://www.sap.com/india/pc/tech/in-memory-computing-hana/software/hana-one/index.html), where they can optimize the costs by choosing to stop their instance when you are not using it, and starting only when there is a need for it though the storage cost is still incurred till the instance is terminated (refer to the website – http://www.saphana.com/docs/DOC-4195).
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 features of different cloud solutions, based on my self-study / research of different articles / white-papers and blogs etc.