Left to right: Peter Prahl of Amazon Web Services (AWS), Frank Schwittay of Trend Micro, Michael Jores of Suse Linux and Chris Kohlsdorf of Realtech.
Left to right: Peter Prahl of Amazon Web Services (AWS), Frank Schwittay of Trend Micro, Michael Jores of Suse Linux and Chris Kohlsdorf of Realtech.
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E-3 Cover Story Jul/Aug 2014: The Hybrid Cloud

The debate regarding the best cloud model can probably never be resolved – organisations' business structures and activity sequences are too heterogeneous. To that extent, the best model is a Hybrid Cloud, adapting itself to the needs, dynamically, transparently, securely and efficiently.

The Hybrid Cloud

The debate regarding the best Cloud model can probably never be resolved – organisations’ business structures and activity sequences are too heterogeneous. To that extent, the best model is a Hybrid Cloud, adapting itself to the needs, dynamically, transparently, securely and efficiently. We discussed this with Peter Prahl of Amazon Web Services (AWS), Frank Schwittay of Trend Micro, Michael Jores of Suse Linux and Chris Kohlsdorf of Realtech.

Cloud Computing in the SAP community is a topic for everyone. It is a subject that no-one can get around, even those who today are still operating a large on-premise computer centre. There are several reasons for this: Cloud Computing introduces a demonstrable IT innovation.

If ERP software acquires Cloud capability, it becomes more flexible and more transparent. Cloud Computing need not come from a distant cloud. Cloud technology can also be rolled out within one’s own computer centre. Ultimately, in an SAP environment, Cloud Computing appears as part of an evolutionary path: consolidate, harmonise, virtualise – Cloud Computing. And Cloud Computing boosts flexibility right from the outset.

Realtech offers a Cloud Service with the SAP SolMan (Solution Manager): it is lean and efficient because the SAP installed base can use it to outsource whole tasks. A Hana test scenario can be implemented very quickly in the Amazon Cloud – without complex hardware supply, installation and customising. If this is solution is received positively, the AWS Hana Cloud can grow; if it is not, it can be ended again every bit as quickly.

A uniform operating system such as Suse Linux makes operating easier because it is available on-premise and on-demand. When someone leaves their own computer centre, Trend Micro is likewise at the ready, on-premise and on-demand.

What is the most prominent factor not favouring the Cloud? Possibly its complexity at the first attempt to use it: The preferred model of a Hybrid Cloud moves fluently between the on-premise and on-demand worlds: this demands reliable partners and a high level of competence. Taking that step in favour of the Hybrid Cloud requires an opening-up to new partners.

For this reason, AWS, Suse Linux, Realtech and Trend Micro have joined forces to give the SAP installed base a stable, tried-and-tested, coordinated and efficient product offering. Through this community of forces, the SAP installed base is on the safe side.

Cloud vs. Virtualisation

According to Experton’s market researchers, the Cloud market is being driven forward by trends such as big data, mobility, social business and an increasing degree of industrial networking.

This scenario becomes possible because of mature Cloud technologies with regard to network optimisation or traffic optimisation respectively (CDN), automation, administering of commissions, scaling, as well as independence from a given location or device. Experton’s opinion is that Cloud Computing also makes possible the exchange of knowledge and information across individual companies’ boundaries, and that in addition it brings about innovation.

According to the Experton Group’s current forecasts, in 2014 German firms’ expenditure on Cloud technologies, Cloud services and corresponding consultancy and integration services will amount to around 6.6 billion Euro – including network services. Bitkom (Germany’s Federal Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media) sees the information and communications technology (ICT) sector as the front runner in the use of Cloud Computing. Almost two thirds (64 per cent) of ICT companies in Germany make use of Cloud Computing, according to Bitkom.

This places the providers of information and telecommunications technology substantially above the (40 per cent) average usage rate within the overall German economy. This information was produced by the Cloud Monitor 2014. For this study, Bitkom Research undertook a representative survey among 403 companies on behalf of KPMG. The study states that the financial services industry occupies second place in the cross-sector comparison, with a 56 per cent score. The next category is transport and logistics, at 49 per cent. “Lots of IT companies develop Cloud solutions for their clients and also use the technology on a large scale themselves”, noted Bitkom President Prof. Dieter Kempf.

At the same time, the use of Cloud Computing is increasingly establishing itself successfully in other business sectors. Thus, in vehicle construction 48 per cent of the companies surveyed use Cloud Computing, as do 46 per cent in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry. 43 per cent respectively use this technology in the mechanical engineering and plant engineering sectors on the one hand, and in retail/distribution on the other.

Yet in other business sectors the average is only 35 per cent. The Experton analysts point out that part of the background to this growth is the sustained trend towards the digitalisation of all business processes and business models, encompassing almost all business sectors and segments.

In this context, private-sector companies and the public sector are transforming themselves in a similar way with regard to e-government, in order to use a common dialogue to reduce any breakdown in data-management media. Processes and specific workloads are ever more frequently outsourced in Cloud environments. “Or is it rather in many cases only virtualised servers with intelligent management tools?”, the analysts ask self-critically.

Hybrid: HEC & LVM

In any event, one thing is sure: “Cloud sclae is frequently clashing with the Enterprise requirements”, as Heiko Henkes, Manager Advisor at Experton Group observes. As before, the path into the Cloud remains a difficult one – particularly in the case of Enterprise architectures. More and more players are now entering the Cloud Services sector, drawn by the market’s attractiveness and, by now, also by the standardisation process.

On the other hand, established providers of consultation and integration services are wringing their hands seeking differentiation opportunities, e.g. with regard to the OpenStack framework, which currently ties up a lot of resources and thus costs much time and money. Yet it is not just new entries to the market that are evident; the market is also exhibiting the first signs of consolidation.

Platform as a Service (PaaS) is developing further; in many cases it is becoming the pivotal point, whether for making use of IaaS services, for offering completed applications via Cloud market places, or respectively for making SaaS product offerings available.

More specifically, in the PaaS segment, Enterprise variants or hosted variants respectively are gaining momentum. According to Experton, PaaS is developing – as a medium-level Cloud Layer with options for users to manage it themselves but simultaneously with enough automation elements – into the most interesting Cloud Layer and also the most complex one.

Service providers mastering this middle part of the stack will rapidly make this their base for being able to participate in the customer processes that create value and establish points of competitive differentiation.

For instance, to effect specific Hana Enterprise Hybrid Cloud scenarios rapidly, valuable services are provided by the wide-ranging body of instruments and the automation tool that is SAP Landscape Virtualization Management. Combined with a superimposed service-oriented architecture, SAP Landscape Virtualization Management (LVM) enables users to press ahead with scenarios involving the Hybrid Cloud.

OpenStack & Linux

In simplified terms, infrastructure software for the Cloud makes available, on the many computers comprising a Cloud, the functions that the operating system provides on one single server – i.e. the operation and the optimum allocation of calculating capacity, as well as storage and a network for the individual applications.

As Michael Jores of Suse Linux remarks: “Because open standards are so important, particularly in the Cloud, there is currently a lot of activity in the open-source community; among the many projects, OpenStack has by now emerged as the one bringing together underneath its wings the largest global community of developers and companies, with approx. 17,000 active participants from 140 countries at present. OpenStack is quite obviously developing into the Cloud’s Linux.”

The components developed from the OpenStack project are made into a packet by Suse, undergo a quality-assurance process, and have certain important automatic processes added to them, e.g. with regard to the Bare Metal Installation; then, with the necessary manufacturer support, the components are made available to the Cloud provider in the form of the product Suse Cloud – the world’s first OpenStack-based Enterprise product.

Michael Jores specifies: “Frequently these Cloud providers are computer centre operators wanting to use Suse Cloud to build up and operate a reliable Private Cloud.”

In operating Suse Cloud as an infrastructure addition on Suse-Linux-based servers, all of Linux’s advantages, such as certifications of hardware and software, are also available in the Cloud. Suse Cloud then supplies the interfaces itself, on which models for charging (such as pay-per-use) can be implemented, because at any moment the OpenStack product knows which application is using which resources.

The Private Cloud sourced from the service provider can become the application-user’s Hybrid Cloud. The boundaries can be fluid rather than rigid. Yet the future model for success is surely – like this cover story – the Hybrid Cloud, because what companies want is to be able to use Cloud Computing‘s advantages as effectively and quickly as possible.

In this context, a Hybrid Cloud is the first choice. Above all, this enables IT’s flexibility and reaction speed to be increased in dealing with changing business requirements. In making the reorientation towards the Hybrid Cloud, the Cloud principles are typically implemented step-by-step. As always, for this it is important to have good planning, identification and prioritisation of company-specific IT processes.

Hana: PaaS, IaaS & SaaS

In the discussion on which type or principles of Cloud Computing the focus is on, it is significant to note which layers of the IT stacks are being dealt with; putting it differently, which layers are being “hidden” in the Cloud – applications or hardware resources? Middleware or a database? Is it solely applications or other layer elements? SAP is making possible a particularly simple and effective start with its Hana Enterprise Cloud offering (HEC). Customers rapidly benefit from the advantages of using Cloud Computing and Hana.

For instance, the SAP installed base can start with a PoC in the Project Cloud and continue or respectively start to use solution scenarios or cases of use in the Productive Cloud. In this context, there are suitable selection possibilities regarding the use of the Cloud.

The choice is between IaaS, PaaS and SaaS – or a combination of IaaS and PaaS, or of PaaS and SaaS: the list goes on… Based on the SAP Cloud Appliance Library, an on-premise SAP solution including infrastructure resources lends itself to being used as de-facto the user’s own system, within a mere half-hour.

This can be done to test a new SAP solution in connection with Hana, for example, or to familiarise oneself with it. Within this, SAP is working with Cloud Service Providers who are making IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service) resources available. In effect, it is inherent to the Cloud that layers or elements transferred into the Cloud exhibit a high degree of standardisation and that the services used run through their processes in an automated way.

The Hana Enterprise Cloud takes both these aspects into account in an exemplary way; this also applies in a very similar way to customers’ on-premise environments. In one’s own computer centre, as elsewhere, the challenge is to set up a service-oriented architecture, by means of establishing technical uniformity and, in the ideal case, by automation processes that span across technologies – also known as orchestration. With LVM, SAP is offering a sophisticated package of instruments with which a Cloud can be implemented “on-premise”.

Cloud Appliance Library

All of five years ago, SAP created the technical prerequisites, together with the providers established in the market, for the installed base to also benefit from the Cloud in the use of on-premise products. At the same time, the SAP tradition of giving support to open environments (key word: Linux) was successfully continued: the primary goal of this was give cost-conscious customers opportunities to select options in open environments. Building on this, at Sapphire 2012 the SAP Cloud Appliance Library (CAL) was announced.

After introduction the same year, in the first phase the CAL proved its worth in the making available of trial systems and of tailor-made systems, due to the simplicity with which a system was made available. At SAP it is taken to be the case that, in the next phase of CAL adoption, to an increasing degree the SAP installed base and partners are using these product offerings to start new projects in the Cloud.

Of course, when combining public Cloud and private Cloud with on-premise technology, one must also know whether and how (for instance) applications and business processes are running, or governance requirements and service levels are being complied with, or the use of the application is exhibiting data consistency, strong performance, and availability.

Yet it is neither advantageous nor beneficial to the purpose to address these requirements by using either a variety of monitoring platforms or tools, or respectively several platforms or tools. What happens in the Cloud and what takes place in one’s own computer centre environment/system environment, must be monitored and controlled by a central management control system and use a management software system.

And: as a central integrated life-cycle management platform, it must fulfil assignments covering an application’s complete life cycle, while simultaneously providing a high level of quality with regard to the business’s operation – from the implementation and via tests, from the deployment or roll-out/going-live, through to operation, and also when an application is taken out of service.

As mentioned at the outset, at SAP there is also SolMan, likewise offered by RealTech via the WAS Cloud.

In this context, SolMan serves the SAP installed base as a central monitoring instrument; it means that a comprehensive monitoring process can be implemented for a complete Hybrid Cloud environment, both from the technical perspective and from that of running the business, and consistent with end-to-end management; this includes life-cycle management and IT Service Management functionality (ITSM) in accordance with ITIL. Here, acting as a kind of integrating multi-function solution and as a “single source of truth”, SolMan monitors not only an on-premise application landscape but also SAP Cloud solutions.

This includes both Hana Enterprise Cloud (HEC) with, for instance, BW-on-Hana or selected ERP-on-Hana applications, with advantageous analysis functionality, and also the SAP Public Cloud with Ariba, SuccessFactors and Hybris Cloud solutions respectively.

Why? In a Cloud environment, it is an elementary must-have to offer the opportunity both of replicating existing SAP systems based on a free choice, while maintaining internal consistency, and also of networking with existing systems. Of course, SolMan and LVM – the latter primarily orchestrating the services in the SAP landscape in a Private Cloud environment – can be used to also involve those systems operated in the Hana Enterprise Cloud. That way, LVM becomes a beneficial tool in the Hybrid Cloud.

Private & Public

The Cloud operating model will establish itself everywhere that people aim to use IT resources more flexibly and also to book and charge the costs and resource expenditure involved in this, in a way that matches requirements and the relevant use.

Michael Jores of Suse Linux explains: “Thus it is in fact suitable as a future operating model for all computer centres, whether as a Private Cloud on one’s own premises or at the service provider’s resources, or as a Public Cloud, i.e. based at a provider such as Amazon, or as a Hybrid Cloud, one in which components run in the Private Cloud, in other words behind one’s firewall, while other components run in the Public Cloud.”

The market for Cloud providers is also divided vertically, into infrastructure as a service (i.e. provision of computer resources, storage resources and network resources), platform as a service (i.e. the provision of an application interface), through to software as a service (i.e. the provision of applications).

However, they all require the operating software that underpins them, and as is made available by Suse Cloud. All the offerings named exist both at national level, guaranteeing that particular national characteristics are accounted for, and also at international level; even in the “national” version, they come from providers set up on a national and on an international basis respectively. The latter provide national-specific product offerings and service levels in national local computer centres.

Deep Security

Accordingly, “Cloud Computing” does not always mean exactly the same thing. Depending on the desired service model, the users of these services are faced with various kinds of security-related responsibility. In an SaaS model, the physical security of the infrastructure and the security of the applications and data are indeed the responsibility of the provider. The latter makes the application available via the Internet – security is thus in the latter’s hand.

As Trend Micro is one of the leading solution-providers for the security of computer centres, many SaaS providers use Trend Micro solutions for the purpose of protecting the server and the applications. Frank Schwittay of Trend Micro describes it as follows: “This happens underneath the car bonnet and is invisible from the customer viewpoint, as the solutions – just like data-storage capacity or network components – are part of the infrastructure.” This is also the case in the SaaS environment and Cloud environment of SAP applications.

In the background, the Trend Micro partners and customers use the SAP integration possibilities and protection possibilities of “Deep Security” so as to protect all aspects of such SaaS applications, including the SAP applications and databases, the operating system and the network.

Amazon Web Services

In turn, in the IaaS environment the provider’s responsibility often ends at the point at which there is physical security of the instance that is above the hypervisor. Usually, the customer is then responsible for protecting applications, data and the operating system and for patching instances.

However, the customer is often unaware of this division of labour; until the relevant instance becomes the victim of a denial-of-service attack (DoS), for instance, they do not know that it needs to be protected.

Frank Schwittay: “This is where Trend Micro enters the picture: to customers and service providers who are implementing and operating customer solutions on IaaS products, it offers a solution that also takes into account the particular features of such a new, dynamic world: Apart from the fact that instances need to be protected individually, the issue at hand is primarily also security management. Security must not be allowed to limit the Cloud’s agility.”

That is why Trend Micro has developed its solutions especially for Cloud service providers and Cloud environments. Trend Micro customers can protect an SAP instance in the Amazon Web Services Cloud at the press of a button, using Deep Security; if several instances are being started in the context of an auto-scaling, the solution recognises this automatically, rolling out the same security rules that apply in one’s own computer centre for the SAP instances, without the administrator’s manual intervention.

“The Cloud’s agility and flexibility are maintained – a perfect symbiosis”, as Frank Schwittay of Trend Micro relates from his personal experience.

Conclusion: Transformation

The SAP community finds itself in a process of transformation: The use of the Private Cloud is indeed still the predominant use to this day, and for several more years it will remain relevant. Compliance with regulatory stipulations, as are required by the finance industry or by publicly-funded institutions, for instance, can make it necessary to operate the Cloud under one’s own responsibility.

Michael Jores emphasises: “Suse supports all models referred to, with operating software and administration software, delivering the customary stability and providing the certifications needed. Building on this, together with strong partners, the solutions are made available for users to run their operations. Thus our current commitment to SAP Hana goes far beyond the pure operating-system certification and optimisation; it goes through to securing all scenarios necessary for use of Hana in an operating mode that is secure against breakdown, high-performance and reliable, in the Cloud as elsewhere.”

AWS, Trend Micro, Suse Linux, Realtech and E-3 Magazine (German) Cover Story July/August 2014

About the author

Peter M. Färbinger, Editor-in-Chief

Peter M. Färbinger is Editor-in-Chief and Publisher at E-3 Magazine, B4Bmedia.net AG, Munich, Germany. He can be reached at pmf@b4bmedia.net

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