SAP and the Cloud

the_cloudI guess something mentioned as cloud is getting bigger at SAP this year. So I tried to get updated about the service offerings of SAP in the cloud and wrote a blog about it. I already wrote my bachelor thesis about business intelligence as software as a service. So I can use some main ideas to get a closer view about the cloud offerings. The “as a service” thinking describes a convenient way of simply paying your something which you won’t own. Generally this isn’t something new when we think about what we already use but don’t own. Important might be also that you don’t have to pay the service by money. You can also pay the service by spending you data. So every mail service (Hotmail, Google Mail) we use is a service because we won’t own the webserver or the mailing software but we use it. Even when you would say you pay for your own webserver for using the mailing software on it. Then you use the platform webserver as service. And when you pay for an own server in a data center (with administration rights) then you have some part of an infrastructure as a service which you pay for.

So in our private life we already use a lot of the service offered through the internet. And some business companies are also successful by offering services. Salesforce offers his products as service. Different collaboration platforms or software can be used as a service. In general collaboration is more often a service (e.g. mind maps). As we are at business I could take a look on the highly discussed services which are offered by SAP and their cloud portfolio.

First of all something to clarify: Whenever SAP mentions the SAP as context of cloud they meant it as shortcut for SAP HANA Cloud Platform. I already mentioned the services which we daily use at the mailing example. I try to do the same for the SAP HANA (Cloud) Platform as a Cloud. You can rent the technical infrastructure to run (several) SAP HANAs as platform and to develop your own applications. But you can also rent the (single) SAP HANA platform itself and develop your own applications. Or you can rent the software which runs on a SAP HANA platform. As you can see you can decide on your own whether you want to have access to an entire infrastructure (for several different or same platforms), just the platform or only the application which is more often ready-to-use.

But what is exactly a cloud? Is a service already something out of the cloud? How can you combine ‘as a service’ with ‘cloud’? First of all when we switch from the “business cloud” to the “IT cloud” we talk about cloud computing. And cloud computing includes the availability of IT resources as infrastructures, platforms or software by a network. Depending whether the network is the internet or an intranet you also talk about a public or a private cloud. Due to receiving a service the intranet won’t be your company’s intranet. I can be set equal to an outsourced intranet connected to your company which won’t be accessible by public. Or a highly secured and limited access through the internet. It is somehow public but you try to reach privacy by securing the internet as good as possible. Overall you can say that the cloud itself describes the kind of network which you use. And the service is the resource which runs in the cloud. When you have you own SAP HANA in your company then you use SAP HANA On-Premise.

sap_cloud_overviewWhen you have decided yourself about the kind of cloud you can chose the service which you want out of the cloud. SAP HANA as infrastructure (Infrastructure as a Service, IaaS) is only possible by the Enterprise Cloud. As far as I know the infrastructure of Amazon is always in their administration. So you can use the Public Cloud for SAP HANA as a platform (Platform as a Service, PaaS) or you can already choose between some applications (SAP Fiori, SAP Business ByDesign) out of the public cloud (Software as a Service, SaaS).

For an Enterprise Cloud you have still a choice between an outsourcer which offers the services in his own data center with the possibility to deliver the data by his own network structure directly to your company (or maybe you already have you IT systems outsourced then it would be the same data center) or an outsourcer which offers you the same but uses the internet for data communication. For every choice you might have the possibility to use as service the entire infrastructure, platform or software on SAP HANA.

The security is still critical by using the any kind of public cloud. As long as you don’t have an outsourcer which can show directly where your data is and offers you a dedicated connection to your company your data will never be save by hundred percent.

Everything which comes through the (public) internet, even when it is an entire infrastructure nobody can you guarantee a hundred percent safety of your data. As we can see in the daily media more often it is possible for intruders to gain a high amount of confidential data. Even if the data is encrypted every encryption can be decrypted by time. When somebody wants to encrypt your data and has resources available then this person will encrypt your data for sure.

But is this a reason that you won’t use the internet for your company? In my opinion: no. First of all you have to be aware that there will be always the chance to get hacked. You have also to be aware which data you want to give away to the outside of your company. In general mission critical information or raw data for a further analysis by SAP HANA?

Encryption is still a good way to save your data. As I mentioned every encryption can be decrypted by time and resources. But very good encryptions can’t be easily decrypted because only few people have access to the corresponding resource to decrypt a well encrypted data in short time. But on the other site you also have to be in mind that every encryption and decryption consumes time. So it might reduce your real-time business.

With SAP HANA you have decide yourself whether you use the Enterprise Cloud (which might be generally securer) or the Public Cloud. Additionally SAP HANA provides with Service Pack 7 a very good encryption library to secure your data and the communication (SSL) through the internet. With the necessary awareness it is really a possibility to use SAP HANA your business in the public cloud.

In conclusion I would prefer some outsourcer (Enterprise Cloud) with the corresponding capabilities to provide SAP HANA in general either by infrastructure (for scaling out), as platform or maybe already software based on SAP HANA.

SAP HANA in AWS (Public Cloud) is perfect for learning, non-mission critical applications or maybe some prototypes with test data. SAP HANA offers an encryption but the infrastructure is provided by an US company and for me the risk of using SAP HANA productive with mission critical data would be too high because I can’t be sure who would have access to the infrastructure.

If you have any comments feel free to leave one 🙂

Further interesting readings about SAP HANA Cloud

  • Clearing the Clouds around the Cloud, SCN ( Link )
  • The SAP HANA & Cloud Platform Symbiosis, Scherblog based on SCN ( Link )
  • Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Application Platform as a Service, Gartner Jan. 2014 ( Link )
  • SAP HANA Cloud Platform – Content Overview, SCN ( Link )
  • SAP HANA Cloud Platform at SAP TechEd 2013, SCN ( Link )

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