What is the best cloud for me?

 By Roy Ferrari

I am a big advocate of the cloud. (I must admit it’s also my job.) To me, cloud just makes sense. After all, why should a retail company run their own data centre? It makes much more sense for them to get someone else to run it. Then, they can focus totally on retail.  Unless of course, the retail company is Amazon. Then, it’s a whole other story.

But not all clouds are created equal. There are a variety of cloud approaches and implementations. So the question for potential cloud adopters becomes: Which is the best cloud for me?

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Before answering that question, it helps to ask a couple of other ones.

Question #1: What is cloud? 

Not wanting to repeat the “ask 10 people get 12 answers” response, the best basic definition is that a cloud holds data somewhere else (vs. on the company’s premises). It then makes that data available quickly through a series of data telecommunications networks and software that can identify a location based on a series of numbers, even if you don’t know exactly where it is.

It’s simple, quick and convenient – but isn’t necessarily that much cheaper than doing it yourself in your own data centre. However, companies don’t do that any more. Instead, we have all gotten used to having our data managed by an IT company in their own DC. We pay for that service, but benefit from cost reductions because IT companies have a number of systems under management at the same time.

That all sounds very positive, but there are drawbacks, including:

  1. Loss of control over change management
  2. High costs of upgrading or adding new applications which practically force companies to avoid changes/upgrading and stay as they were.

Cloud addresses those drawbacks, as far as SaaS goes, by serving as a very good way to acquire software, albeit generally in vanilla settings. You then have to pay for chocolate chips or the mint sauce on top (always my favourite analogy).

Question #2: What kind of data will go into the cloud?

This question is a very important offshoot of the “loss of control” aspect introduced above and brings up important concerns about security.  To a certain extent, these concerns are unfounded. BUT it is important to really consider one thing: if you do put your data in the cloud, you literally lose control over it and have to accept that loss of control. Certainly, there will be SLA’s and security contracts in place. But if someone at the DC walked up to the computer and copied the disks, there’s nothing you can do to stop it – in spite of all the contracts in place.

Let me use a personal analogy to illustrate.  We all use our phones to both take and store photos. In this case, you are using an on prem solution with the restriction that the phone can only hold a certain amount of photos.  If you don’t like the restriction, you can use a cloud storage system from Apple, or whomever. You pay an amount per month and can quickly access photos held in Apple as if it was on your phone. BUT you have no control over those photos. You have no idea where they are physically stored? 

 What happens if someone copies all the disks in the DC where they are stored? You probably wouldn’t even be aware. And while you may consider them to be only photos, some might have personal data on them like your birthday, age, address, etc,, making you a potential victim of a victim of ID theft.  Your photo could also be used in a range of scams, like the one where unscrupulous people pass off photos of other people to encourage strangers to fall in love and send them all their money.

Also, can you even access the photos if you stop being a client of Apple?  Do you have to pay to always access them? What happens if you don’t want to use the service any more but want your photos back? The cloud is good, but are you really happy with losing control?

I store all my photos in the cloud. I can access them via my phone or a PC from anywhere in the world, I enjoy full benefits of cloud and can even off load from my phone to it automatically. BUT these are my photos and my documents.  They are Mission Critical to me and therefore I don’t want prying eyes to access them. So for the important stuff, I have my own cloud on my desk. It provides full cloud usage, but I control the data and I am comfortable with that. It’s a personal managed cloud that complements the off prem cloud.

Question #3: What strategy is right for you?

In business, I think it’s right to utilise the cloud, but that doesn’t mean putting everything in the cloud without the correct forethought just because you think it’s the right thing to do.  Think about what you do put in the cloud. Do you want to put all your important business information somewhere where you don’t know? Can you fall foul of legislation and regulations if you do? Yes, you need your people to access it from anywhere. BUT you do need to know where it is.

HPE suggest you consider using a Right Mix of hybrid clouds. If you are an SAP environment, that means means utilising Concur for your travel needs and Successfactors for your HR. It also means:

  • Using public cloud for projects that need to be stood up quickly and for short periods of time
  • Maintaining a DR site away from your main site
  • Having Development systems near where your dev team sits and test systems available as required

One last question

Even with the hybrid approach, do you really want to run your MISSION critical SAP systems somewhere that you don’t know?  Perhaps a private managed cloud option – where you know the DC is the Right Mix for you?

I am not saying putting everything into public cloud is not the right thing to do … but I am asking if it’s the right thing to do for you.


I invite you to meet me at SAP SAPPHIRE NOW 2018 that’s being held from June 5 - 7 in Orlando, FL to get the answers to any other questions you might have about which is the best cloud for you. I will be available at the HPE booth #158 all three days of the event.   

If you can’t make it to the event, you can find more information about all HPE – SAP solutions on our alliance pageSAPPHIRE Social Card #1.jpg

Roy Ferrari has been working in the IT industry in the UK for 22 years, holding both UK and EMEA sales and sales management roles with mainly smaller companies such as Red Hat and Rogue Wave. In 2011 Roy joined SAP, initially working in the General Business team as a HANA before moving to HANA Enterprise Cloud team in 2014. He has a reputation for having excellent HANA knowledge. Roy claims to have “sold more varieties of HANA than anyone else in the world”, including HANA software, S4, HEC and HANA hardware … and the claim has yet to be challenged.  He has also sold the largest single node HANA system available (48TB). These skills and history brought him into the SAP Global team Alliance team.

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