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Author's profile photo Irfan Khan

Triumph of the Cloud

This is the second entry in a four-part series. You can read Part 1 here.

How does a 40 year old automotive supplier find the agility to pivot to new markets and new opportunities? Or how does a startup, specializing in audio accessories for skateboarders and snowboarders, go from being a great idea to being a great company? These businesses, and many others, have found their way forward in the Cloud.

Expanding horizons

The move to the Cloud has been one of the most rapid and most sweeping transformations of business ever to occur. Five years ago, we were questioning its viability, and wondering whether Cloud was just another fad. Today, we know it’s not. In a recent IDC survey, 53% of respondents said they are currently using some form of Cloud service; that number more than doubled in two years and keeps on growing. The SAP Cloud alone has 38 million users. IDC estimates the cumulative aggregate growth rate (CAGR) for the public Cloud at 23.5%, which is five times the growth rate of the IT industry overall.

This expansion can be seen in the growth of the infrastructure supporting the Cloud. Microsoft deploys a million servers, more than double the number
attributed to Amazon two years ago. Although Google hasn’t published any numbers, XKCD cartoonist Randall Munroe has produced a very plausible estimate of 1.8 to 2.4 million total Google servers.

But the growth of the Cloud is about more than adoption rates, revenue, and infrastructure. The Cloud is gaining both breadth and depth, offering a vast array of deployment options and services. The SAP Cloud runs the gamut, providing Software as a Service (SaaS), Managed Cloud, and Platform as a Service (PaaS) solutions. The SAP Cloud is home to the most comprehensive set of business applications available anywhere. Unlike many SaaS offerings, these applications are fully customizable to meet the specific needs of the business. Meanwhile, the PaaS offering now leverages open platform components such as Cloud Foundry and Open Stack, providing a wide range of new options for application development, and positioning SAP as a leader among contributors to the expansion of open standards for the Cloud.

I recently described how SAP Simple Finance, operating in the Cloud, enables a fundamental transformation of core financial processes, boosting performance from 65% up to a 1000X.  I also showed how the  SAP HANA Cloud Platform extends those benefits across the full range of applications that SAP has traditionally supported on-premise – as well as a host of new specialized apps developed using the platform’s PaaS capability.

Now, withSAP HANA SPS 09 , the platform demonstrates a level of maturity that extends that value proposition even further. Multi-Tenancy makes it possible to run separate workloads in isolation within a single database instance. Smart DataStreaming provides the capability to capture, filter, analyze and respond to millions of events per second, supporting Internet of Things (IoT) and other real-time big data use cases. Dynamic Tiering enables an organization to utilize SAP HANA’s in-memory capabilities, providing a way to dynamically move data from memory to disk to achieve desired price/ performance goals.

These capabilities will enable the HANA Cloud Platform to support new classes of Cloud applications. Combine the platform development tools with SAP UI5 and Fiori, and you add the ability to generate simple, elegant HTML 5-based UIs to the most complex applications, deployed on any platform or device.  From there you can deploy your apps within the organization via the Enterprise App Store or to the world via the HANA Marketplace. At every stage, SAP supports the move to Cloud-ready and Cloud-centered operations.

A hybrid cloud world

Facing technical and organizational challenges, as well as regulatory and other business requirements, few organizations have gone completely to the Cloud, opting instead for a hybrid cloud deployment architecture. With a solution set that originated on-premise and is still widely deployed in that way, SAP has the expertise to support the deployment architecture that makes the most sense based on the organization’s needs, whether that is on-premise, private, public, or hybrid cloud. Whatever the configuration, via investment in new tools and broader partnerships, SAP is committed to providing a simplified and accelerated transition process that minimizes disruption and expense while ensuring a fully operational deployment—one that seamlessly incorporates all the customization work done on-premise, which often represents the core value of the application of the business.

Such capability, flexibility and expertise are key differentiators for the SAP Cloud, supporting what may be the biggest area for cloud-related growth – the aspirations for what businesses plan to achieve within it. This brings us back to the two companies I mentioned at the start. The supplier in the automotive sector is Schaidt Innovations. Leveraging the SAP Enterprise Cloud, Schaidt was up and running in just 90 days, and are now aggressively pursuing opportunities in telecommunications and other new markets asan independent company. The producer of skateboarder / snowboarder audio accessories is Skullcandy in Utah. Experiencing 200% year-over-year growth and moving from 10,000 to 1 million units shipped annually, Skullcandy turned to SAP Business by Design  for a Cloud-based supply chain management solution. The company has completed a successful IPO and reports revenues over $230 million.

Multiply these successes by thousands and the true growth enabled by the Cloud becomes clear. Businesses are setting their sights well beyond the cost and work-cycle savings that may have originally sparked their interest in Cloud solutions. Now they want to leverage it to build their businesses, move them forward, or gain a competitive edge. That they are finding a way to achieve all of these and more is the real triumph of the Cloud.

Stay tuned for part three in this series: Big Data and the Internet of Things


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