For most SAP customers, the cloud remains a place to develop and test applications. That’s according to a new Forrester report, “Cloud Computing Offers Both Near-Term and Long-Term Benefits for SAP Customers.”
The benefits are irrefutable, Forrester states. In fact, SAP itself uses Amazon EC2 in the range of tens of thousands of server hours for various development and staging requirements every month, according to the report.
“Whether or not firms move immediately to cloud models in SAP, it is highly probable that cloud will be part of every major future discussion on SAP,” the report reads.
That report dealt both with software as a service and infrastructure as a service. It detailed the many familiar challenges with public cloud deployments — security, performance, SAP’s own admission that many of its applications are not ready to run on the public cloud.
But even getting to the private cloud is going to be difficult — and therefore, there are many options arising that promise to make this journey easier.
A few weeks ago, I blogged on the emergence of more hosted private cloud offerings in which hosting providers are hosting and running the customers’ applications in external data centers, leveraging dedicated, virtualized servers. Customers pay for these services by the drink – customers only pay for the capacity they use.
Lionsgate is an SAP shop planning to move all of its core SAP applications – including R/3 with AP, AR, GL, Purchasing, etc. — into the Amazon Virtual Private Cloud. It is also planning on moving its Intellectual Property Management (IPM) system which is part of SAP’s CRM system.
Lionsgate Entertainment is currently moving its development and QA environments, and based on that setting a time frame for production.
“To us the Amazon cloud and SAP is a completely logical next step in the evolution of our computing environment,” CIO Leo Collins said in an email interview. “We think that we can manage the security issues and get tremendous benefits for our SAP users while saving money. It’s a no brainer.”
It’s worth pointing out one other variation on the private cloud. Traditional SIs are moving toward a “cloud sourcing,” model — where they front-end on-demand software from a variety of suppliers, according to the Forrester report.
The way vBlocks are being implemented fits into this model. Pitched as a starter-kit for a private cloud, a VBlock, is a pre-configured, pre-tested infrastructure bundle that includes Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) servers and networking, EMC storage, and VMware virtualization. Accenture consultants do the SAP integration.
The latest Vblocks can be built from the full complement of Cisco UCS blades, according to a recent article from sister-site SearchDataCenter. The new blade options, in turn, lay the foundation for the VDI- and SAP-specific Vblocks.