Round of Virtustream @ SAPPHIRE
by Michael Hoch
SVP of Cloud Advisory Services, Virtustream
SAP SAPPHIRE is always the biggest event of the year, with over 17,000 customers, prospects, and SAP experts rushing to Orlando to hear the latest and greatest from SAP.
This year, Virtustream @ SAPPHIRE was our biggest event in the history of the company. Our stellar booth sat right in the heart of the conference floor, with four stations where customers and partners could dig into critical topics for SAP customers interested in Enterprise Cloud solutions.
Of the hundreds of customers we spoke with over the three days, here are three themes that kept coming up again and again, by customers in almost every vertical, of almost all shapes and sizes:
- Is real-time reporting with SAP S/4HANA actually real, or is it SAP hype? SAP’s announcements at Sapphire are often very forward-looking, bleeding edge technologies that have the promise of something great, but are just hitting General Availability. Many attendees wanted to know if S4HANA is real, and should be considered today, or if they should let it “burn in” for a while before putting it on their roadmap.
Virtustream encouraged customers to look at it now, today. A few weeks earlier, Virtustream’s announced the first production S4 HANA Customer in the Cloud with Don Whittington, CIO of Florida Crystals, took the plunge and completed the full migration to S4HANA in just 4 weeks. Also, Virtustream and its partner, Infosys, were demoing a real-life S4 Simple Finance solution that is being used today for by major automotive customer.
SAP users should be cautious about going too far, too fast with S4 Simple Finance – to use it does required a database migration for ECC onto HANA. However, SAP users should charge ahead with its close cousin S4 Central Finance – this can be deployed in a sidecar manner, without requiring a full ECC migration to HANA. It can connect to non-SAP systems using SLT. And it can greatly improve the speed, accuracy, and flexibility of financial reporting.
- How can a CTO transform their on-premise infrastructure to become a real “IT-as-a-Service” provider? The enterprise cloud market has matured incredibly rapidly over the last 2 years, including support for SAP HANA. When Virtustream announced the very first ECC on HANA in the cloud, and launched its Cloud Service for SAP HANA at Sapphire 2013, we spent 95% of our sales efforts educating customers about how to buy SAP and HANA from a cloud provider, including what a true utility model is (as opposed to managed hosting), what kinds of SLAs to expect, how DR can be architected, which security frameworks could be supported, and so on.
Now, just 2 years later, most customers know what they want, and how they want to buy it. The big question is: Can we do this ourselves, in our own DCs? Or is “cloud” only available via a third-party? Large and small IT shops have always wanted to be able to provide fast-to-deploy, easy to manage, utility-based services for their internal groups. There’s a large existing investment in hardware and operations expertise that can’t be thrown away. And, despite the advanced security capabilities of many enterprise cloud services companies (including Virtustream), there are still many situations where the data must remain on-premise.
Virtustream’s Position: The full enterprise cloud IS available in an on-premise model today. A major manufacturing firm had a 0-minute recovery point requirement for their SAP HANA systems, which could only be met with a dual-site private cloud deployment within a metro region. Virtustream, Infosys, and VCE combined forces to provide a true enterprise cloud solution: utility-based multi-tenant for use by dozens of internal business units, highly secure, scalable, with near on-demand deployment capabilities for new projects sponsored by the business. Once fully deployed, the customer will be able to offer full “IT-as-a-service”.
- Can a company with PCI, HIPAA, ISO, FedRAMP or other high security and compliance requirements really make use of an Enterprise Cloud? Ever since Amazon first launched their public cloud, there’s been concern about security in the cloud. Customers are rightly paranoid about maintaining their security frameworks. And in today’s climate, audit and compliance is not only a critical security capability, but a high cost of doing business. This is still the number 1 reason some customers say they may do test/dev in the cloud, but never run production.
Virtustream’s Position: It’s time to take a fresh look at security, both on-premise and in the cloud. With advancements in database encryption at rest, in motion, and in use, improvements in security hardening and user auditing, and mature end-to-end risk and compliance management offerings, and the ability to know where your data can and can’t move to using geo-fencing, the cloud is often *more* secure and compliant than an on-premise environment. It’s not easy, it’s not simple, but with sufficient expertise and experience, and the right tools and processes, a highly secure enterprise cloud is available and in use by major commercial and private sector companies today.
The approach we recommend to customers is to be as specific as possible about the security, audit, and compliance requirements for your SAP and non-SAP workloads. Use that as your calling card to evaluate enterprise cloud providers. Then collaborate with your cloud vendor on the design, risk profile, management processes, RACI, etc. The cost should be the last area to review: Once you have a design that meets your requirements, 9 times out of 10, your cloud vendor will work with you on how to get it at an attractive price. Of our 170+ SAP customers, we have not once met a security profile that we couldn’t meet or exceed. The cost was sometimes high, but the savings from moving the cloud generally far outweighed the additions for the extra security.
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