Get Started with Cloud Computing and SAP Today

  • by Scott Wall, SAP R&D Manager, Solutions Network, Deloitte Consulting, LLP
  • June 21, 2010
Thinking about cloud computing? Not sure how to get started? Discover the different types of cloud computing models with a focus on Infrastructure as a Service. Included are immediate SAP use cases for applying cloud technology, SAP-specific challenges and support considerations, and guidelines for building your own hybrid cloud.
Key Concept
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) refers to vendor-provided, on-demand computing resources such as processing power, storage, and networking components with pay-as-you-go billing arrangements. Although service providers own and manage the equipment in typical IaaS models, private organizations can use virtualization, tools, and automation to build IaaS-like services in their own data centers.

Cloud computing is an emerging technology and IT service delivery area that should be evaluated and followed closely by SAP users over the next few years. Many aspects of cloud computing, such as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), can be used today for certain use cases. Some other areas require time to develop before large numbers of companies using SAP technology embrace them.

The IaaS delivery model of cloud computing is increasingly a consideration for CIOs, especially given the inherent potential of new ways of architecting and managing computing resources. Whereas security, regulatory, and data protection issues must be addressed in the public cloud space, there are many cloud computing benefits that SAP customers can realize today. Common landscape challenges such as server sprawl and drawn-out approval and procurement cycles can be addressed by using public cloud services or building private and hybrid clouds.

Temporary systems for training, proof of concepts, and other short-term initiatives can be deployed rapidly on public cloud infrastructures with limited capital expenditure and pay-as-you-go billing arrangements. IaaS-like technologies can also be used as the basis for an internal IT delivery strategy. Private and hybrid clouds offer similar functionality to public clouds with added security and control. In either case, system resources, staff, and expenses are used more efficiently, which adds flexibility and agility to organizations.

Some benefits are realized strictly through the underlying virtualization technology (i.e., server consolidation, rapid provisioning, improved manageability, and low-cost high availability) while other features are made possible by cloud computing vendor offerings. These benefits include cost models that are considered operational as opposed to capital expenditures. Public clouds also offer unconstrained capacity and the ability to dynamically ramp up or ramp down computing resources as required.

To help maximize benefits and minimize risk, SAP users who want to embrace cloud computing infrastructure services should consider using a staged approach, thereby allowing ample time for the staff to identify which applications and infrastructure can be effectively deployed and managed using cloud infrastructure technologies. It is important to determine when a public cloud infrastructure may be more appropriate versus private clouds or standard hardware options. Understanding evolving business requirements along with internal infrastructure costs, capabilities, and limitations is critical before considering cloud solutions. A logical first step would be experimenting with non-critical applications on a public cloud or with a controlled private cloud environment. Like any new technology, guidelines should be established to help ensure implementation and support are consistent with the requirements of the technology platform and the needs of the user organization.

Scott Wall

Scott Wall is a manager within the Solutions Network (SNET) organization of Deloitte Consulting, LLP. He has more than 20 years of IT experience and 14 years of SAP-specific experience delivering implementation and support services to customers across multiple industries. His role as the SAP R&D manager involves enabling practitioners and project teams by providing technical advisory, support, service offerings, and documentation on the latest SAP products and technologies. This includes maintaining key relationships with SAP and other vendors while providing Ramp-Up software, infrastructure, and teams of highly skilled SAP technical staff to enable pursuits, proof-of-concepts, internal projects, and client initiatives.

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