Change the perspective and it becomes simple
In preparing for this year’s TechEd in Barcelona I had lots of walks with my dog trying to explain to her (in a somewhat one-sided discussion…) why I believe that creating a private option for the SAP Cloud Platform product is a brilliant move towards solving a number of challenges we have previously faced.
I started debating technical choices about various platforms: public vs. private, aPaaS vs. cPaaS, OT vs. IT, privacy, business process vs. application, innovations vs. systems of reference –ultimately all of these discussions ended with “it depends”.
Reading the latest Ian Rankin yesterday evening I had a step back and take a look at the big picture moment and found that in almost every real world scenario you have a mesh of many “it depends” scenarios and that the answer to “what is the best platform” is as complex as the real world behind it:
- compliance & regulations,
- privacy considerations,
- network connectivity problems,
- “bi-model IT”,
- legacy software,
- geographical specialties (and much more)
Combine that with looking at an end-to-end process chain and you will find multiple stakeholders with completely different – and often contradicting preferences.
How can we simplify?
First, I think you need to acknowledge that solutions usually have to be built across different systems, platforms and deployment models. Once you accept this, the real question becomes:
How can I connect all these business processes and applications in a hybrid world, so I can translate my end-to-end business scenario with the same speed and efficiency that is demanded from me by my customers?
One of the things that have emerged across our industry is the use of PaaS as the basis to build and operate applications – most notably Cloud Foundry and Kubernetes have emerged as such platforms that are supported by all major providers with options for public and private deployments. Both thrive on the idea of “micro-services” which themselves provide the foundation for apps. There is a good momentum in the industry to create industry standards to Connect, secure, control, and observe services across multiple platforms.
Now – if there is a technology standard that helps me build interoperable, multi-cloud “micro-services” that I can use to create business solutions – how does that help me connect to the business services that are kept in the ERP applications I have running?
This is where “SAP Cloud Platform” comes into play, which combines the idea of a PaaS with event based APIs in a way that S/4HANA exposes business processes as API that can be registered and consumed via the SAP Cloud Platform – as Bernd Leukert announced at TechEd already 3.000 of those API are made available.
So for me this is where the puzzle comes together: A PaaS providing distributed and highly scalable DevOps environment to create your own solutions, an increasing number of solutions and products provide business solutions on top of it and SAP opening up their systems with APIs which will allow integration between the business process and applications – without requiring customizations to the core system.
One thing is missing though: regulation, privacy, connectivity, cost or simply “choice” prevented the use of SAP Cloud Platform as a public cloud option for some customer scenarios, putting a dent into the idea of a “simple” solution across the board.
We have been working with SAP to discuss on how we can close that gap and provide our customer with the choice to run SAP Cloud Platform as a private edition provided by Atos and combining it with the Codex data-driven smart business services that we created (which rely on exactly the same technical foundations). Combined we’ll provide the option to capitalize on the availability of open services, Leonardo, Codex business services even in non-public cloud deployments and open the door to create end-to-end solutions that are not limited by a choice of deployment model (and my bet is that we will see mostly hybrid solutions) – allowing for much simpler architectures and implementations.
Coming back to the headline: I believe the perspective should always be on how applications work across all business processes. Thus you will have to support different heterogenous, hybrid and somewhat distributed environments. Moving to a PaaS landscape and data and micro-services driven APIs seems the most promising way supported by all major players. With SAP S/4 HANA and business service API available in SAP Cloud Platform in both public and private environments there is now full support from SAP to create such end-to-end architectures – greatly simplifying the way to build, deploy, operate and integrate end-to-end applications and to realize the SAP vision of an Intelligent Enterprise”
Barking reminds me of the simple needs of my dog – will be heading out shortly for another walk-talk.