Changing the delivery of IT

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SAP Workloads Moving to the Cloud

Moving ERP workloads to the cloud is big business

With the increased automation of business processes, enterprises are integrating closely with their customers and partners to transform into connected businesses. At the same time, social and mobile interactions are growing at an unprecedented rate, resulting in data storage growth and accompanying demands for analytics. In this new environment, businesses are faced with a significant growth in compute, storage and network infrastructure. Rather than just add more resources to their existing data centers, organizations are either optimizing their in-house resources or looking for external IT resources to fulfill their needs.

While optimizing IT resources, finding common workloads can provide a lot of benefits as standardization allows large gains due to better IT management. In a typical large organization, supporting Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software constitutes a sizable portion of IT infrastructure. This makes ERP workloads an ideal target candidate to apply cloud techniques for optimization.

Thanks to SAP's industry focus and continuous product improvement, they have held a lead in the ERP space for a long time. With enterprises eager to optimize or offload their infrastructure, several technology companies have offerings targeting the SAP environment. It should not be surprising that SAP offerings are frequently showcased at technology events, and most recently, I experienced it last week at VMworld 2013. In this post, I will talk through three offerings that target optimizing the SAP landscape.

  1. IBM: IBM leverages the variety of their hardware products, like System x, System x and Power Systems servers to optimize SAP workloads. With their Smart Enterprise cloud offerings, IBM allows for customers to move an entire SAP landscape to the public cloud or implement a hybrid offering that gives customers the best of both worlds. With the recent acquisition of SoftLayer, time will tell if IBM will start using its technology to offer even better self service offerings on the public cloud.
  2. Virtustream: When you look at careers available at Virtustream, SAP skills are regularly mentioned. This shows that while Virtustream is an overall provider of infrastructure services, they capitalize on customer demand for SAP workload optimization. Some Virtustream customers have migrated their entire SAP workloads into a public cloud environment showing customer confidence in Virtustream public cloud offerings.
  3. VMware: For those who looked at Gartner's recent magic quadrant of infrastructure providers, VMware was missing. Perhaps VMware did not make it into Gartner's criteria for inclusion because they did not have a public cloud offering. At VMworld 2013, VMware made available a hybrid cloud offering that gives it a game-changing entry into the cloud space that helps its customers. As a de-facto standard and leader in server virtualization, VMware will definitely get the attention of its existing customers who can now leverage this offering to move their SAP workloads to the cloud. VMware's partnership with Savvis (which will provide VMware data center facilities) allows both companies to leverage joint skills in contributing to the success of this offering. As a result, over a period of time, VMware can emerge as a potent force as a public cloud provider.

The SAP platform is unique since it allows users to significantly modify the product to suit their needs. Although customization helps SAP to be molded to organizational intricacies, it can burden organizations with huge costs while upgrading versions. This is one reason why SAP has been unable to come up with a viable Software as a Service (SaaS) offering.

Organizations with highly customized SAP versions are forced to get limited benefits from cloud technology either optimizing their data center or moving to a public cloud that is much less efficient than subscribing to a SaaS offering. In the foreseeable future, the best way is to offload SAP workloads to the cloud and optimize use of your data center resources using a variety of offerings from leading infrastructure providers.

This post was first published on Republished with permission.

More Stories By Larry Carvalho

Larry Carvalho runs Robust Cloud LLC, an advisory services company helping various ecosystem players develop a strategy to take advantage of cloud computing. As the 2010-12 Instructor of Cloud Expo's popular Cloud Computing Bootcamp, he has already led the bootcamp in New York, Silicon Valley, and Prague, receiving strong positive feedback from attendees about the value gained at these events. Carvalho has facilitated all-day sessions at customer locations to set a clear roadmap and gain consensus among attendees on strategy and product direction. He has participated in multiple discussion panels focused on cloud computing trends at information technology events, and he has delivered all-day cloud computing training to customers in conjunction with CloudCamps. To date, his role has taken him to clients in three continents.

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