Migrating your SAP applications to public cloud isn’t all peaches and roses. In return for all the benefits the cloud has to offer, you must address concerns over the security and privacy of your data. There’s also an added concern about legal implications regarding the location of your business data.
Putting these things into consideration raises questions about the optimal cloud deployment model for your organization. Is the optimal cloud deployment model for your organization Public or private?
If you can’t choose between public or private cloud, the natural response is to adopt a hybrid cloud strategy. With a hybrid cloud strategy, you can enjoy the benefits of public cloud while mitigating some of the risks associated with it.
The Hybrid Cloud Use Case for SAP Systems
An SAP application landscape usually consists of production systems, quality assurance systems and development systems. While production systems typically run 24x7 and have interdependencies with other systems within an organization, development systems have less of an impact on an organization’s value chain and are only needed when developers are working with them.
In a hybrid cloud environment you can run the critical production and quality assurance systems on-premise and the development systems in the cloud. Since development systems are less critical you can take full advantage of the cost saving benefit of the cloud by only paying for them when you need them not 24x7.
Addressing Public Cloud Disadvantages in a Hybrid Environment
Following the previous use case example, there will be scenarios in which your development systems need to be connected to other systems. The connection between your development systems hosted in the cloud and your production and quality systems running on-premise creates a possible security threat.
It is the responsibility of your IT department to address threats and other issues that may arise as a result of hosting part of your SAP environment on public cloud. Here’s how you can address security and other concerns that come with the cloud.
Security issues: SAP systems typically handle sensitive data. The last thing you want is to have your data compromised by hackers. One way to address this threat is to use full encryption in the cloud environment. While encryption doesn’t protect your data from eavesdrop, it will ensure that your data is unreadable for hackers.
Network connectivity: Since SAP applications aren’t typically“cloud-native” network connectivity becomes an issue when distributing systems between different data centers. This issue can be addressed with new tools that provide secure connections between the virtual switches in public cloud environments and the switching technology used in on-premise data centers.
Vendor-Lock-In: To avoid vendor Lock-In you need to make sure that there is an easy way to migrate your systems away from a provider and maintain the ability to switch to other cloud providers. This is where middleware comes in. Middleware enables you to connect your on-premise environment to many public clouds and easily migrate between them.
How to Adopt Hybrid Cloud
If your organization plans on adopting a hybrid cloud strategy, it is important that you do these 3 things before you undergo the project:
- Establish a leadership team: To ensure that your hybrid cloud adoption yields its desired outcomes, you must establish a small team of IT project stakeholders to lead the way. A leadership team made up of effective and well-respected stakeholders will make sure your cloud adoption approach is proactive rather than reactive.
- Understand and prioritize the needs of your organization: You should never introduce cloud services because you think your organization can leverage the generic advantages promised by cloud service providers. If your core business systems run 24x7 and are quite stable for example, the elasticity of the cloud might not benefit your organization. The priority should always be your own business needs and IT demands.
- Define your desired state: Once you have identified your business need, you need to define the desired future state of your organization’s IT. With a clear understanding of the desired future state of your organization, your IT department will have clarity on how your business processes will work after hybrid cloud adoption. From there they can work backwards to put the appropriate technical architecture in place.