Improved speed, better performance, greater agility, lower cost, and the ability to manage a complex landscape are among the primary reasons cited by organizations for moving or considering a move to a cloud-based environment. While individually these are all compelling reasons for a transition, many companies are recognizing the bigger picture: A move to the cloud can accomplish all of these benefits and provide a business with the rare opportunity to turn ideas into action and drive innovation.
In a recent IBM study, CEOs cited technology with an eye toward innovation as the most important factor for adapting to the evolving business landscape.
In an on-premise world, innovation often has been a synonym for cost, with IT departments frequently overtaxed just with maintaining complex system landscapes. Today, however, there is almost universal recognition that the status quo is insufficient to meet a constantly changing business landscape marked by frequent mergers and acquisitions, an explosion of data, and an unprecedented need to make intelligent decisions in near real time. In fact, in the IBM CEO Study 2013, CEOs cited technology with an eye toward innovation as the most important factor for adapting to these evolving dynamics.
For SAP customers, a discussion about harnessing technology to drive innovation often gravitates toward SAP HANA, which then leads to the question of whether to deploy SAP HANA in the cloud or on premise. The answer depends on an organization’s unique needs and priorities. To understand these needs, you must look closely at the various cloud deployment options and develop an understanding of different cloud service provider offerings in a hosting environment.
Choice and Control in the Cloud
IBM helps businesses achieve three main objectives: simplify, innovate, and transform. Running production or non-production systems on SAP HANA in the cloud illustrates these three tenets to achieve a leaner and more nimble IT landscape while still driving innovation. Let’s first look at the merits of SAP HANA in the cloud, and then we will address how IBM optimizes these opportunities for customers.
Running SAP HANA in the cloud combines the real-time analytics that drive business decisions with the flexibility and efficiency of the cloud. Benefits include:
- A significant reduction in time to value
- An elastic scalability to adapt to workload demands
- An optimal total cost of ownership (TCO)
- A shift from a capital expense (CAPEX) to an operating expense (OPEX) investment model
- More frequent hardware refresh cycles
With the appropriate managed SAP HANA cloud services, an organization can avoid the expense of training or finding personnel with the necessary SAP HANA expertise.
IBM stands out as a cloud and hosting partner for many reasons, including the number of deployment model choices offered, the levels of management, the breadth of availability, performance, and the delivery service-level agreements (SLAs) of IBM Cloud Services. IBM recently announced that unmanaged SAP HANA One, SAP HANA, and SAP applications will be available on the cloud platform from SoftLayer, part of IBM Cloud Services. This capability is in addition to the IBM Cloud Managed Services for SAP Applications offering, which provides full stack ITIL-compliant managed services with SLAs at the operating system (OS) level. (See Figure 1 for a look at the different deployment models; also see Figure 2) This level of managed services and SLAs at the OS level are unique among hardware and cloud vendors, with sub-second SLAs guaranteed in performance and availability all the way up through the application layer. This is the unique value proposition of IBM Cloud Managed Services, which is designed to run and host enterprise applications, including SAP solutions. The SLA is offered for SAP applications including SAP ERP, SAP Customer Relationship Management (SAP CRM), SAP Business Warehouse (SAP BW), and others on most certified OS and database combinations including SAP HANA.
In many ways, IBM Cloud Managed Services is designed to model how a client would run its existing SAP landscape in its own data center, yet with all the cloud capabilities built in. The reason for this unique structure is that IBM Cloud Managed Services has transitioned from providing infrastructure and support in the manner of a traditional hosting model into a cloud model. Benefits for clients include maintaining their desire for choice and control, while allowing for security and availability. Clients can control and manage their SAP systems through a service portal, and the service also includes features such as high availability and disaster recovery options across a multitude of data centers.
SAP HANA Options in the Cloud
While we have discussed generally SAP HANA in the cloud as a means to showcase IBM Cloud Managed Services differentiators, the logical question for clients is: What applications do they want to run on SAP HANA in the cloud? Many organizations wish to explore SAP HANA but aren’t certain how it will best add value to their business. Maybe they want to run a small-scale proof of concept (POC) of SAP BW powered by SAP HANA or SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA. IBM provides options based on companies’ requirements (see Figure 3).
SAP HANA on IBM Cloud Managed Services for SAP Applications
With SAP certifications for SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud and cloud services, IBM offers customers the assurance that their SAP HANA cloud solutions can run production workloads through a specialized deployment of SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud that supports all SAP HANA use cases. One advantage of IBM Cloud Managed Services is that it provides options for SAP applications. For instance, one option is offering the SAP HANA platform as a service (PaaS), in which IBM provides the dedicated appliance, hosting, and administrative services as part of the offering.
Another option is a bring-your-own-device scenario. Say, for example, an organization currently has an SAP HANA box purchased for a POC or development and wishes to run SAP ERP powered by SAP HANA in the cloud. With IBM Cloud Managed Services for SAP Applications, the customer can ship its existing appliance to an IBM cloud data center where it will be managed and hosted, protecting the customer’s investment. An additional value-add to this scenario is that the supporting architecture is the same at all of our data centers, so SAP HANA could be added and supported from any of them. The data centers not only have the same architecture, but they are managed by the same hardware, software, and global service delivery organization. This means that running SAP ERP powered by SAP HANA in the US would be exactly the same as running it anywhere else in the world.
SAP HANA One on SoftLayer
For companies that are interested in exploring SAP HANA but may not want to purchase a license, they can run SAP HANA One in the IBM cloud as a self-service infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS). This new option — the ability to run SAP HANA One on SoftLayer — enables companies to easily conduct a POC for SAP HANA, build and deploy SAP HANA applications for production, or get started with in-memory applications. For this unmanaged option, SLAs are available at the infrastructure level.
SAP HANA on SoftLayer
Some organizations that want to run SAP HANA may be looking for an unmanaged IaaS option. These companies will be able to run SAP HANA on the SoftLayer cloud platform, including both non-production and production workloads. This option includes SLAs at the infrastructure level. In addition, customers will have the ability to run SAP Business All-in-One on SAP HANA as well as SAP Business Suite and SAP BW running on traditional databases.
Lifecycle as a Service
The various options for deploying SAP HANA in the cloud illustrate a larger point. The cloud is not a one-size-fits-all solution; the new cloud-based reality stresses flexibility above all, and this is what IBM Cloud Managed Services delivers. But IBM Cloud Managed Services represents only a segment of the larger cloud architecture.
The cloud is not static; deployment scenarios should accommodate the flexibility demanded by complex IT system landscapes. This speaks to IBM’s lifecycle-as-a-service (LCaaS) offering, of which IBM Cloud Managed Services is a vital part through the hosting and Basis layers. But LCaaS supports end-to-end cloud considerations, with application management services (AMS) for long-term functional support, as well as implementation and transformation services that are traditionally associated with on-premise SAP system integrations (see Figure 4). For organizations that are new to SAP, this is a great way to quickly get up to speed with a certified implementation partner familiar with cloud-based implementations.
As an example, one client is a $7 billion manufacturing company that through acquisitions was running eight ERP instances, and consolidated these into a single, global SAP ERP instance that IBM managed in the cloud. Long-term support will be provided by AMS. At the same time, this organization is also leveraging multiple software-as-a-service (SaaS) tools such as integration with SuccessFactors solutions. Additionally, the company is looking to run SAP Product Lifecycle Management (SAP PLM) near its China facility and will use IBM’s newly opened SoftLayer data center in Hong Kong as an IaaS. While IaaS does not provide the application support of IBM Cloud Managed Services, it does provide a reliable platform for SAP PLM near the client.
This hybrid world is a reality. An all-SaaS model or an all-hosted cloud model does not support multiple layers of complexity. Managing, monitoring, and running different systems in different locations — and integrating everything efficiently and effectively — is the challenge in our global economy that cloud service providers need to address. This is the value proposition of IBM’s LCaaS offering.
This includes integrating clients’ internal limited virtualized architecture used for certain environments. IBM supports this integration via our software-defined environments, an open architecture that includes a number of hardware tools such as pre-built clouds.
Such highly distributed architecture demands a skill set for managing and brokering a full-scale cloud environment that is vastly different from the traditional ways of maintaining an on-premise installation, and is a big shift in the day-to-day responsibilities of an average IT employee. This is why having IBM as a cloud partner is an attractive entryway to the cloud for many organizations that don’t have the infrastructure or personnel resources to effectively manage this complexity. Of course, an ancillary benefit of outsourcing cloud management services is that it frees up the IT department to pursue other opportunities to drive bottom-line initiatives, and to rethink how it serves the business.
Making the Transition
While establishing a clear return on investment in a shift to the cloud may be easier than it is with other technologies, some organizations still hesitate to make the transition. Some of this can be explained by a simple reluctance to change, but there is a misconception that cloud migrations of SAP environments are too complex and risk taking the business offline for an extended period.
The cloud and SAP HANA address one of the bigger challenges facing organizations today: the need to be nimble in a real-time, global economy.
Many IBM clients have discovered first-hand that this is not the case. For example, a leading provider ofembedded processing solutions was able to get its complex system landscapes up and running in a cloud environment with no noticeable business disruption. The company migrated its global SAP ERP instance from a dedicated hardware environment to the IBM Cloud Managed Services for SAP Applications platform in just eight hours, reducing the TCO for its SAP ERP landscape by roughly 20% annually and cutting system backup times by up to 80%. The company also lowered its SAP system restoration times by 70%, from approximately 20 hours to six hours or less.
IBM’s goal is to deliver high-value transformation capabilities for our customers to help them optimize their SAP environments. But because there is never a one-size-fits-all solution for how to drive maximum value, our IBM Client Center – Lab for SAP Solutions (LSS) exists to provide personalized customer assistance for how to most effectively drive innovation across their organizations.1 The cloud and SAP HANA are popular topics at these labs, where customers come away with a deep understanding of how the latest SAP and IBM technologies can help effect business change. At one of eight labs throughout the world, virtually, or even with an onsite visit by IBM consultants, customers can participate in a forward-engineering workshop, which is the central activity for defining a specific plan of action for enabling organizational transformation.
It is not surprising that cloud and SAP HANA figure prominently at the IBM Client Center – Lab for SAP Solutions (LSS), because these technologies address one of the bigger challenges facing organizations today: the need to be nimble in a real-time, global economy. IBM has the proven expertise to help guide organizations in their business transformations. Whether you are looking to move to the cloud, considering a POC for SAP BW powered by SAP HANA, tuning your SAP landscape, or managing a complex environment following an acquisition, IBM provides the end-to-end capabilities to enable you to take the steps that are appropriate for your business. For more information, visit www.ibm.com/cloud.
1 For more information about the IBM Client Center – Lab for SAP Solutions (LSS), visit www.ibm-sap.com/centers. [back]