Bringing clarity to the cloud: Cloud computing technologies for IT outsourcing -part 2

As mentioned in part 1 of this post itelligence was Re-certificated as “SAP-Certified in Application Management Services” and “SAP-Certified in Hosting Services”. Additionally itelligence has been first time certified as SAP-Certified Provider of Cloud Services.

We are taking this opportunity to answer the question: Is company data actually secure in the cloud? Oliver Schreiber, responsible for the global SAP outsourcing business at itelligence AG, continues answering some questions related to this

What are  critical aspects to be aware of?

Public clouds offer flexible and cost-effective standardized server and storage capacities, but with only limited supplementary services. In this regard, this capacity is not suitable for use with all applications. Furthermore, there are generally no guarantees regarding the availability of the application or response times.

It is often unclear what happens in the event of data losses or system crashes, as application specific backups or restore procedures cannot normally be provided. In the SAP environment, it is therefore acceptable to use the public cloud as a test platform and “playground”. However, we would still not recommend running productive SAP systems for security reasons.

How can one avoid the risks of cloud computing while availing of the benefits?

By combining the benefits of cloud computing with those of conventional hosting. With our “SAP Enabled Cloud” approach, for example, we offer a cloud-based operating concept for SAP solutions that is based on technology incorporated in a provider cloud hosted by us. Our customers profit from a flexible and scalable IT infrastructure. At the same time, we guarantee availability, response time and security in our capacity as the service provider. You could say: We bring clarity to the cloud.

To what extent to cloud solutions also impact on cost and billing models?

On the one hand, costs on the supplier side are reduced: Thanks to the virtualization of systems and the flexible use of capacities, hardware is simply better utilized. Naturally, lower operator costs are also of benefit to customers. However, more flexible deployment of IT services also makes it easier to plan in accordance with demand and to fix more realistic charges, for example. Requirements can be quickly and efficiently adjusted. Our preference is for the ‘pay what you need’ principle as opposed to subsequent settlement based on the ‘pay what you use(d)’ model. This ensures that there are no nasty surprises when it comes to IT costs.

What must companies wishing to outsource their IT structure and software to the cloud look out for?

The first step is to carry out a comprehensive analysis of requirements, which also includes the company’s internal application know-how. For example, if SAP applications are to be outsourced, SAP itself acts as a contact partner – SAP certifies individual partners as SAP hosting partners or, more recently, as SAP-certified Providers of Cloud Services. Service provider certification according to ISO 20000 for IT service management and ISO 27001 for data security also offer peace of mind. References from other customers are useful. How satisfied are they with the flexibility and the service, are costs under control and manageable? Anyone contemplating outsourcing should also pay heed to transparent and comprehensible billing models in which the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) can be defined in advance and remains that way.

Outlook: What’s your view of the market for cloud applications in the business environment?

Specifically in the SAP segment, we’re seeing a large number of new web-operated applications based on the SaaS principle coming to market. SAP’s SAP Business ByDesign software, for example, already offers outstanding usability and performance and provides partners such as itelligence with the basis on which to develop their own apps. In general, we expect the new applications in the SaaS sphere to be accompanied by a further reduction in the TCO of operating centralized applications such as SAP – along with greater flexibility and high levels of security. As a result, migrations between data centers and the use of disaster recovery scenarios to safeguard systems will be easier and more cost-effective.

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