In the last decade, the cloud computing movement has completely revolutionized the business world. These days, no matter what industry you are in, there’s a good chance your company’s key operational services run on cloud-based infrastructure within a massive data center.
The SAP corporation is a German-based firm that first broke into the software world back in the 1970’s. The company was founded by a group of former IBM engineers who saw an opportunity to bring finance systems into the digital future. One of their first products was an enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform, which lets businesses manage and monitor all business processes. Fast-forwarding to today, SAP remains a leader among ERP software platforms.
Basics of Cloud Computing
In the early days of the internet, when a business wanted to launch a website, the company would need to purchase and maintain a physical server. This machine would either be hosted within the corporate office or else be placed inside of a local data center. The traditional model of web hosting was a costly endeavor, as it required a full-time information technology staff to monitor and manage.
As the internet matured into the early 2000’s, computer hardware began to get cheaper and network speeds around the world began to get faster. This paved the way for the concept of cloud computing, where instead of hosting individual servers locally, a company could instead run their software in a shared environment from providers such as Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure.
Cloud computing offers cost benefits, since a company only pays for the computing power, bandwidth, and storage space that it actually uses. Costs accrue on a monthly basis, turning web hosting into a true utility. If your industry has certain security requirements, you also have the option to purchase dedicated resources in the cloud that lock down your organization specifically.
What is SAP HANA?
Early versions of SAP’s ERP applications required companies to host the software locally on a cluster of servers. This gave business users strict control over their data but made it complex to manage. In addition, if there was a power or network outage near the servers, then business operations were at risk of going down.
Today, SAP offers hosted solutions that leverage the power of the global cloud. The company’s latest platform is called HANA, which is designed to handle business intelligence for organizations of all sizes. It runs on high-powered analytics technology that can help a company make smart decisions in real-time while simplifying core database structures.
HANA can be used as a framework for building new custom applications. It handles multiple data sources, both internal and external. Because transactions are captured when they occur, it gives businesses the power to understand how their processes are functioning and where weaknesses exist.
Using SAP in the Cloud
When a new company invests in the SAP HANA platform, they have the option to choose between an on-premises installation, a cloud-based one, or a hybrid solution that integrates both local and remote systems. For the best global performance and reliability, the cloud-based platform proves beneficial and cost effective as well.
SAP currently operates 12 separate cloud data centers through multiple providers, including Azure and AWS. These data centers are spread across North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia. SAP offers replicated environments, which means you can duplicate your data in multiple data centers so that users always connect to resources closet to them geographically and enjoy fast connection speeds.
New subscribers can sign up for an SAP trial and gain access to the cloud-based HANA platform. This is designed for third-party developers to install and test their custom applications. SAP provides around-the-clock technical support and has a strong reputation for the stability and uptime of their cloud environments.
Criteria for Choosing a Host
When shifting your company’s data and processes to the SAP HANA platform, you have multiple options for a cloud hosting provider. As hardware costs continue to decline, the ready availability of reliable web hosting solutions has become a thriving industry in which competitors race to provide more features at a lower price.
It’s also important to consider the security factor when comparing cloud options. SAP software will be responsible for managing all of your company’s core operational data, which can include sensitive information pertinent to customers, including finances or health records. For this reason, it is your responsibility to protect your SAP data systems from cyberattacks and other external threats.
A firewall solution is critical for businesses of all sizes and should always be placed in front of back-end SAP systems. They are designed to monitor incoming web requests to your local network and block ones those deemed dangerous. The latest firewalls incorporate artificial intelligence that allows it to detect threats on the fly in real-time.
It pays to keep in mind the reality that even the most secure technology platforms are still vulnerable to attack and data breaches, created either by internal or external threats. For that reason, all employees within the organization should be trained on cybersecurity standards (such as how to identify a potential phishing email and notify the IT team) and only be granted the appropriate access level to SAP systems.
The Bottom Line
SAP offers best-in-class business solutions for companies across the globe. Without a high-powered ERP system, today’s organizations will struggle to maintain control and visibility over their financial operations. Previously, running an SAP platform required a large in-house technical team to install and maintain the software. Thanks to the trend of cloud computing, that complex situation has been simplified. SAP customers can now deploy their own custom applications to externally hosted data centers while still ensuring that their data will be secure and accessible at all times.