My job is to help clients implement large, complex SAP systems. I mostly focus on global companies with some of the largest systems in the world. A few, if fully implemented, will be the largest systems in the world. From my view, I think the largest systems will all be banks and retail. Both have tremendous volumes of transactions that in turn become massive databases.
My latest passion is Cloud Computing and Cloud Computing for SAP. Cloud is not going to save the world. Instead, cloud is going to be the world or at least the IT world. Cloud will be as pervasive or more than client/server is today. In five years, I predict we will no longer be discussing Cloud as topic. It will simply be the model of choice for all IT implementations. When was the last time you discussed the fact there is a CPU in your phone, microwave, car, or your 5 year old’s toys? When things become pervasive, we don’t discuss them, as they become the accepted norm and part of the background.
Cloud is not just one thing. It is the idea of delivering computing in virtualized, standardized, and automated service that can be controlled or self-served by the user. Cloud Services are delivered in layers and delivery mechanism.
The typical layers are:
- IaaS – Infrastructure-as-a-Service
- PaaS – Platform-as-a-Service
- SaaS – Software-as-a-Service
- BPaaS – Business Process-as-a-Service
Any of these cloud services are delivered via a range of delivery mechamisms:
- Private – Cloud at corporate data center
- Hosted – A single corporation’s cloud data center hosted
- Public– Open, subscription based hosting
All cloud Services have a few things in common. They all maximize virtualization, automation, and standardization. Combining these capability building blocks, we provide increased self-services and decreased costs.
Today, SAP does not allow Public, Hosted Services for SAP production systems (OSS Note # 1380654). IBM has also developed a model called Shared Private Production Cloud (SPPC) that is hosted, has most of the benefits like flexibility and cost of a Public, Hosted Cloud with the security (limited access by secure arrangement), robustness (backup, DR), and scalability (large amounts of storage, RAM, large CPUs). It is ideal for SAP loads and does not violate the conditions of OSS Note # 1380654.
Today most of SAP’s applications are not “true” cloud applications. Instead, we are using encapsulation of the client/server environments to provide the cloud benefits. For the most part, this limits the benefits to IaaS and PaaS. I will talk about the advances we are seeing in our efforts encapsulating SAP loads and providing SAP landscapes on the cloud.
SaaS is really a discussion for the software vendors. How do they change their revenue from "license and maintenance" to "services”? It is difficult for SAP, or any software vendor, to come up with a formula that will enable profits, research, and ongoing healthy business. How much should you charge for user per month? a VA01 transaction? do you set minimums and maximums? SAP has to work out the right formulas to move towards SaaS. In addition, most SaaS applications are multi-tennant, which SAP is not. SaaS is an interesting discussion, and will become a reality over time, but is going to be mostly enabled from inside the SAP company first.
Rather than focusing on SaaS, in future discussions, I will discuss how cloud can bring the client cost savings, speed of implementation, improved quality, stronger resiliency, faster responsiveness, and higher satisfaction with SAP delivery for both IT and business users. Cloud will not only change the economics of SAP support, but the way we implement it.
Some of these topics were also discussed in E-3 e-magazine (http:// www.e3zine.com). The pilot issue in October 2010 is available for free. It is only available for iPad and iPhone devices. If you have one of these devices, you’ll find a wide range of Cloud topics for SAP discussed.