Cloud is the business model of the future, but it comes in a number of different guises. Enterprises need to find the right mix – otherwise they could end up creating unnecessary complexity. Sven Denecken, Global Vice President of Cloud Solutions at SAP, shares some helpful tips.
To judge by the general buzz at SAPPHIRE NOW in Orlando, one thing is clear: Cloud technologies have shifted from the realms of hype into everyday business reality. And the days of “Cloud 1.0,” which seemed to sound the death knell of every on-premise system, are numbered. Companies are looking very closely at how adopting cloud technology could boost their flexibility and broaden their options. When it comes to creating new processes and harnessing the potential of new markets, businesses should certainly investigate whether a cloud-based solution might not be a simpler and more scalable alternative to an on-premise landscape.
To ensure that they benefit from the advantages that cloud computing undisputedly offers – rapid business payback, speed, and ease-of-use – cloud technology visionary Sven Denecken advises companies to consider the following questions before making a decision. It could help them avoid some of the dreaded pitfalls – like unintended complexity.
Sven’s seven tips for preventing complexity are:
1. Software as a service: get user buy-in
No software innovation reaches users faster than a cloud application. Not even the tightest on-premise investment schedule can match cloud computing for speed of innovation. User experience is key to the acceptance of software from the cloud. Yet, as well as adhering to the design principles that reflect the way humans interact with software, cloud applications must also be consistent . That is, they must harmonize with the other applications deployed in the enterprise. After all, what’s the use of a great app that is easy to operate if it can’t communicate properly with the existing business processes?
2. Platform as a service: a good application needs a good platform strategy
By leveraging an innovative platform from the cloud, companies can continue to use their existing solutions, incorporate new add-ons, and develop new applications – without having to start from scratch every time. However, the risk here is that developers might be tempted to misuse the platform as a toolbox and to ignore the multitenant nature of the system as a whole. To take an example, salespeople need to be able to access revenue and financial key figures, purchasing data, and production status information without having to switch back and forth between programs.
3. Integration: clarify responsibility
Ease of use can be compromised if it is not clear who is responsible for a particular application or applications. This is especially an issue if an enterprise deploys products from several different software companies. But even if a variety of cloud products are in use, it must still be possible to run diagnoses and reports, collect measurement data, and deal with error messages across the entire product spectrum. This requires “consistent integration.”
4. Infrastructure as a service: bring applications to the cloud age
Cloud solutions require a well-designed infrastructure because it needs to “understand” the differing strategies that cloud providers adopt. Experience shows that companies tend to move to the cloud incrementally rather than in one giant leap. The main challenge they face is making their infrastructure cloud-enabled and innovation-ready, while simultaneously bringing their existing applications to the cloud age.
5. Security: keep the NSA affair in mind
Data security and privacy are today’s hot topics, not least because of the public debate and anxieties that have arisen in the wake of the NSA affair. SAP data centers comply with the most stringent security standards. So far so good. But companies also need clear policies that stipulate where data is stored, how it is transferred, and what happens to that data when cloud partners change.
6. Public cloud: multitenancy in the hybrid model
In this model, the cloud provider operates an infrastructure and offers customers access to applications over the Internet. The focus here is on cost-efficiency. Most enterprises’ software systems have a multitenant architecture. However, most public cloud providers aim to provide maximum scalability, which limits their customers’ ability to adapt their business processes. The more customer-oriented variant allows a broad spectrum of configuration options, but, in both cases, customers are generally prohibited from accessing the program code. If this option were available, it could create new levels of complexity by affecting delivery cycles, performance, and response times. A practical solution is to mix systems to create a hybrid model that ensures a high degree of scalability, a secure multitenant solution, and configurability. The perfected art of the public cloud makes it possible for customers to extend their systems without jeopardizing the vendor’s program code or slowing innovation cycles.
7. Private cloud: hybrid tops efficiency stakes
In the private cloud, companies profit from all the benefits of the cloud, but within their corporate firewall. A private cloud can either be operated internally or by an external cloud service provider. The important thing here is to know what level of innovation you can expect and what actual benefits private cloud brings to the business. In practice, the most common approach is the hybrid cloud model, a blend of public, private, and – as experience shows – traditional on-premise solutions.
Originally appeared in SAPNews