In many cases, IT infrastructure gets mired in red tape and more often than not, planning storage and servers for projects take up a lot of time. In most projects, application capacity is taken for granted and when the project gets done, there is a realization that the existing infrastructure would not cut it and more is required and the proverbial question of who pays for it comes up. Cloud infrastructure can be looked at to resolve some of this.
Before we go there, lets look at the possible options for cloud deployment today.
Option 1 : Bare metal servers
This involves renting out space on the cloud purely in terms of Processors, RAM and storage. There are multiple costing models for the same depending on the commitment provided, upfront payment versus monthly payment etc. In this case we just rent processing power on the cloud and we can host our software on the same. Things to take care regarding the same are :
It is usually T-Shirt based sizing and if you need a machine with 6 GB RAM, you might have to settle for one with 8 GB because it is the standard image that is provided. Also for Operating systems , the standard images provided have to be looked into closely to ensure that the drivers you need are supported. Also the type of storage , processors have to be looked into for specific application requirements , like SAP HANA has specific needs which have to be built into the bare metal server request.
Option 2: Infrastructure as a service
This is similar to HANA Enterprise Cloud where everything is managed by SAP including Backups, recovery etc and you just use the HANA application ( database + application layer )
Here too, things to take care include bandwidth limitations ( more bandwidth = more cost ) and sizing. One good thing is that you don’t have to worry about compatibility, OS version drivers etc , but the cost will be higher than just renting out a server on the Cloud.
Option 3: Platform as a service
This is similar to HANA cloud platform ( or SAP Cloud Platform ) where the platform is common and you are one of the tenants . You can host applications , data and everything else on it and consume the same. The platform interfaces with you on-premise applications through gateways and depending on the type of system, real time or staged data access is possible.
How can Cloud democratize IT ?
Costing for Projects
In most organizations , the funding for projects comes from the business and in many a case the cost of the infrastructure being used is not considered as a factor. This often leads to two outcomes – high server capacities to take care of projects that come online or server capacities that are severely constrained due to high usage. In both cases the benefits to the organization is limited and if the infrastructure is on the cloud, then the cost of processing for the project can become a part of the budget and helps in accurate budgeting of the whole IT process where the project funds for the additional storage and processing power required.
This helps the system scale properly and also keeps the performance consistent and no project ends up funding 2 years of IT infrastructure but in turn funds only the Infrastructure required by it.
In many cases, business simulations like planning, forecasting, what if analysis require scenarios that are throw away, this usually involves copying large volumes of data and running simulations on them. Usually hardware is dedicated for this and this sometimes leads to a lot of additional capacity that lies idle most of the time. In a cloud based scenario, this additional capacity can be provisioned for the duration of the simulation and then released thereby the cost of the additional capacity is only for the time it is used.
These are some of the scenarios that the cloud can be a differentiator and how a cloud based environment can help in making the enterprise more agile. The cloud can be looked upon as a IT enabler than a cost factor and help in project execution and also ensuring that IT costs remain streamlined.
This applies to all enterprise level assets and not only SAP.
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*Note: As of 06/12/2017, SAP BusinessObjects Cloud has been renamed as SAP Analytics Cloud.