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As SAP’s cloud computing evangelist for the public sector, I advise governments around the world on the benefits of cloud to modernize citizen services and catalyze economic growth. I also educate the U.S. Departments of State and Commerce on the business impact of cloud. They reference these learnings and success stories in their negotiations to protect U.S. trade interests overseas.
I’d like to share some of my thoughts on why cloud computing is so important to our future, with practical tips on mitigating risk and selecting the right cloud service and deployment models.
What Is Cloud Computing?
While many perceive cloud computing to include only the public cloud’s software-as-a-service model, the cloud compute model is, in fact, much broader than that.
According to the U.S. National Institute of Standards, cloud computing is a compute model that enables on-demand Internet access to a shared pool of configurable resources (networks, servers, storage, applications, services) that can be rapidly provisioned with little effort or service provider interaction. The NIST definition is the most widely adopted around the world.5 Essential Cloud Characteristics
- On-demand self-service
- Broad network access
- Resource pooling
- Rapid elasticity with nearly infinite scale
- Measured service: “pay as you go”
- Private Cloud: use by single organization of multiple consumers (business units)
- Community Cloud: private cloud with exclusive use by invited groups
- Public Cloud: resources and infrastructure shared by the general public
- Hybrid Cloud: two or more discrete clouds bound by technology to enable data and application portability (such as “cloud bursting” from a private or community cloud into the public cloud to extend capacity)
A hybrid model is a cloud-to-cloud connection, as described by NIST. But a looser definition of hybrid offered by industry analysts refers to integration between a public or private cloud and on-premise applications.Choosing A Cloud Solution
Cloud computing is about managing workloads. Your overall cloud strategy should be driven by risk, while your IT roadmap is driven by readiness. Companies need to evaluate how each service type and deployment model can consolidate and deliver workloads at lower cost, within businesses or between partners.
The reason NIST defined cloud computing to mix and match XaaS services with deployment models is to spark new business models that can be implemented quickly.
For example, industry is first using commercial XaaS services in the public cloud where resources are shared broadly and IT cost efficiencies are highest. Government is using commercial XaaS services for some workloads and creating its own XaaS services in a private or community cloud to sell to internal agencies or other jurisdictions. Cloud computing has become the new engine for shared services in general. Both public and private sectors are exploring all combinations of services in public/private/hybrid models to meet a variety of business, security and regulatory requirements.
NIST’s aspirational vision for the cloud is to take a workload and move it anywhere, within any organization’s cost and security requirements. This, in turn, would drive powerful efficiency in today’s IT infrastructure and foster healthy market competition.
SAP Customer Use Cases
While many seek to enhance on-premise applications with SaaS offerings, there are other cloud strategies to consider.
For example, many SAP cloud partners offer managed private cloud services with compelling results.Florida Crystals runs its SAP production systems in a Virtustream Enterprise cloud. This deployment supports thousands of users in three countries. It has reduced Florida Crystals’ IT costs by 30 percent. They now spend less than 1 percent on IT cost as a percent of revenue, while industry peers spend 2 to 2.5 percent. That IT savings can be re-invested for business growth.
While many SAP customers run sandboxes in the public cloud, another opportunity is for test and development systems.
SAP has been running as many as 15,000 instances in the Amazon public cloud for test and development, training, sales demos and proofs-of-concept.Informa reduced set-up time from months to days by moving test and development to the public cloud for SAP BusinessObjects and other applications.
The cloud also enhances business networks. Business intelligence SaaS transforms supply chain networks. When partners collaborate around real-time information to improve demand-supply matching, both sales revenue and profit can grow while IT costs shrink. REI is an excellent case in point.
Finally, with SAP Afaria in the cloud, companies can better manage a BYOD policy for mobile devices. MDM is a growing need in public sector as well, and the mobile-cloud paradigm will be the most pervasive going forward.
In the future, 80 percent of cloud workloads will come from other clouds. Big data analytics is the “killer app” for the cloud, and interconnected clouds could be used to predict and manage global disasters or deliver remote specialized medical care.
As Vint Cerf, a founding father of the Internet and Google’s Chief Internet Evangelist, told us at the recent NIST Forum on Cloud and Big Data, interconnected clouds are in the “same state of infancy as the Internet was in the 1970s.” But if we “push the boundaries of cloud computing…the opportunities are enormous.”Jacqueline Vanacek is an SAP Vice President, Cloud Computing Evangelist and U.S. Commissioner on the Federal and State-Local Cloud Commissions. She also engages with the European Cloud Partnership to transform government. She is a regular Forbes blogger and also writes for the U.S. High Tech Lobby policy blog.Jacqueline shared her Sand Hill Group Study’s findings with U.S. Departments of State and Commerce on how cloud impacts job creation and economic growth. She also consults with several Asian nations on their cloud opportunity. Follow @JacquelnVanacek for how cloud and big data reinvent government and the economy.