At one time, the public and private cloud both served very distinct purposes. The public cloud spread due to how inexpensive it was — likewise, consumption billing ensured that it was billed by the hour, minute, or millisecond. As IT infrastructure expenses shifted from CapEx to OpEx, more companies adopted the public cloud.

On the other hand, the private cloud offered a different value proposition: Isolation, dedicated hardware, guaranteed performance and customization. Because of these differences, figuring out the right solution based on your use case and workload was pretty straight-forward. And for most businesses, in SAP ECC and HANA, production workloads were believed to be best suited in the private cloud or in an on-premise solution.

But as both the public and private cloud have developed and hosting costs have plummeted, the value proposition has evolved. A new hybrid cloud paradigm is based on elasticity and innovation. Since the certification of SAP HANA in the public cloud, the potential for digital and business transformation has grown tremendously. Both VMware and Azure Stack can now seamlessly connect on premises infrastructure to the public cloud. The hybrid cloud is the future, and the future is getting complicated.

The End of Public Cloud Versus Private Cloud

These trends are changing the conversation from private cloud vs. public cloud to “born in the cloud” vs. hybrid, but even that distinction is becoming less important. The hybrid cloud can include on-premises physical infrastructure, on or off-premises private cloud, virtual private cloud, and public cloud — in other words, it has evolved to the point where its limits compared to cloud-native workloads are negligible. And now that all public cloud platforms can technically support Suite on HANA and S/4HANA, cloud strategy is clearly not a question of workloads anymore.

The questions companies face in SAP transformation have become entirely about particulars: What is the scope of this project? What choices will impose the least disruption? How can I meet budgetary constraints while keeping risk at an acceptable level? Finding a way to get to the SAP cloud is easy. Choosing the best way to get there is harder than ever.

Public Cloud Providers Have Everything But Answers

It is important to remember that neither AWS nor Azure have specific SAP design builds. To be clear, both have VM instances that are certified for HANA, but at the end of the day, the public cloud is offering a toolbox, not an instruction manual.

Navigating all the options can be daunting for enterprise IT. Where there is complexity, IT tends to react with extended proof of concepts, and can get caught-up in analysis paralysis. Where there is uncertainty, IT tends to retract and sit on the sidelines. The real risk is to do nothing, or repeatedly put off major decisions in the hopes that the next technological innovation will make the choice easier. The bottom line is that technology continues to evolve at cloud speed, and the landscape is not likely to get easier to navigate.

Creating a Successful SAP Cloud Strategy

There is no one-size-fits-all cloud strategy. Private cloud, Azure, AWS and on premise hosting can all be useful, but figuring out how to put it all together is an incredibly complex task.

SAP migrations and implementations can be greatly simplified, but success depends on choosing the right partner more than on any specific platform. To create the optimal cloud strategy for your company, you need a partner who understands SAP completely, from the application level, to the hardware and networking that underpins the cloud.

About the Author

Jay Graboff is a Senior Cloud Product Manager that has been evangelizing innovation and digital transformation before there was either. With over 8 years delivering Public, Private and Proprietary Cloud, his passion and love affair with technology is rooted in what the Cloud can enable.