Since digital transformation has been discussed so often in recent days, executives all over the globe are questioning which architecture will take the lead in delivering the capabilities needed for a change in business processes. The whole cloud topic is rather complex and involves many issues. Therefore, and especially for SAP customers, I gathered some facts executives shouldn’t miss out on.
1. Cloud is Nothing New – But Still Rich in Potential
A few years ago, everybody talked about cloud, but very few had already taken the leap. Today, cloud has made an imprint on almost every organization and business out there. Some have moved their entire software portfolio to the cloud; others have a handful services or applications hosted outside their perimeter. Most software vendors, like SAP, have taken a firm position that their next innovations will be cloud-centric, leading the way for the rest of us to follow. It doesn’t mean that going for a cloud solution will always be the right answer. There are many scenarios where an on-premise approach will be better suited for solving a particular problem than software running in the cloud. But the cloud opens up a higher degree of flexibility, which will be attractive in many aspects. Subscription-based pricing scales a lot better than the in-house alternative. This goes for both hardware and software costs. Ideas that previously would be costly and time consuming to set up and test locally can now quickly be piloted in the cloud. This saves money and paves the way for agile development that especially the SAP industry has been longing for. This means that the threshold for doing innovation is lowered to a record-breaking low. New ideas can flourish and be nurtured, and some may even grow into changing long lasting business models. The organizations that successfully manage these transitions are the ones most likely to succeed in the future.
2. SAP Cloud Platform Represents How Direct SAP’s Cloud Strategy Actually is
In the SAP space, one of the major cloud building blocks is the SAP Cloud Platform (previously known as “SAP HANA Cloud Platform – HCP”). It is a platform-as-a-service hosted by SAP and its purpose is to support several aspects of digital transformation for existing and new SAP customers. The three main pillars of the platform are extension, integration and innovation. Extend existing software to better fit your business need, whether it is an on-premise SAP solution or a cloud product. E.g., add fields to a screen that make sense in your processes, or add a workflow step where it is required by your business. In terms of integration, the SAP Cloud Platform is the glue that makes sure data is safe and secure while moving from application A to application B, where A or B (or both) are in the cloud. Third-party services like maps, weather forecasts or stock information can easily be integrated across your portfolio. The platform’s third pillar, innovation, comes from the benefits of cloud described earlier, in combination with a number of services that SAP provides with the platform. Examples are the cloud portal, API management, big data services, IoT capabilities and lots of others. And remember, the cloud platform can provide these capabilities as a supplement to both on-premise, cloud and hybrid customers.
3. Cloud Foundry Is the Industry Standard for Cloud Application Platforms
A recent addition to the SAP Cloud Platform portfolio is the general availability of Cloud Foundry. This is a huge step towards open standards and true cloud application development. Cloud Foundry is the de facto standard for cloud platforms, and will create the ability to develop self-contained applications deployable in a standardized and simple way. While in the classic version of the cloud platform has a limited number of development runtimes available, developers on the Cloud Foundry can “bring their own language”. They can use their coding language of preference, and it goes without saying that this opens the door for reuse of applications that could not run on the classic version of the platform, and it reaches a more diverse set of developers.
Another great advantage of Cloud Foundry is the ability for partners of SAP to run the platform on their infrastructure. As of August 2017, the platform can be hosted productively by Amazon Web Services in addition to SAP. Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure will be next. This means that existing or new SAP customers have the flexibility to choose the hosting deal that gives them the best return on their investment. Maybe they already have cloud applications running at a certified partner and can now easily extend their existing agreement to implement SAP Cloud Platform as well. In this way, SAP can become a manageable part of a multi-cloud landscape.
Everything Connected and Integrated Thanks to Cloud Infrastructure
On the one hand, customers need to integrate internal and external processes to become as lean as possible and on the other hand, they need to drive growth by providing digital-based services. Both software and hardware giants identified Cloud architecture as a perfect match for those customer needs. The various alliances and collaborative projects of companies like SAP, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Apple are a perfect symbol for the openness and horizontal collaboration businesses are going to establish in order to deliver best-fitted solutions for customers in the near future.