Inside SAP sat down with Raj Thakur, vice president and general manager, hybrid IT, HPE South Pacific, recently, to discuss how he sees the cloud technology market shaping up in 2018, and the implications of some of HPE’s recent announcements for SAP customers.
ISAP: What do you see as the major industry challenges for 2018?
RT: With a continued focus on digital transformation, there is still a long way to go for IT to truly transform and provide platforms for businesses to build next generation applications, deploy real-time analytics and start to look at deploying Internet of Things solutions in their businesses. The work around this commenced a few years ago in Australia; I see that accelerating in the next year.
The first area of complexity is really around speed – different customers and different industries have different time to market, depending on the industry and how rapidly it’s being disrupted by competitors and new entrants. The second challenge is the complexity around how they go about deploying these new applications, platforms and initiatives from a technology perspective, because there’s a lot of choice. As we all know, we live in a ‘hybrid world’ where you have a choice of deploying new applications in different infrastructure silos, whether it’s in the public cloud, on premise, or the local service provider.
Companies are still deciding whether to build or manage themselves, or to outsource. As they build out these new platforms and make these decisions, some have what I would call pretty holistic projects and some are tackling it maybe by a business unit or by a particular vertical in their business for an application.
The third challenge is, once they’ve gone past that point, and are running IT across multiple clouds, multiple infrastructure and multiple partners, and are consuming IT from different sources, how do you manage across this ‘hybrid estate’?
ISAP: In your view, what are the keys to being able to simplify the process of moving to a hybrid cloud environment?
RJ: The first step is to have a clear plan as a business about the timelines, budgets and partners. No single person or company can do all this as a single entity. It takes planning and coordination, and building the right partnerships.
The second thing is to have a plan for where your specific applications and workloads reside – will they reside in a cloud? If they will, will it be a private or public cloud? Are you going to leave it on traditional infrastructure because it’s not portable? For SAP customers, if you’re looking to deploy HANA across the business, do you deploy it in the HANA Enterprise Cloud? There are lots of partners who can provide HEC instances, or you could have a private HEC instance.
The third step is adopting the right tools and processes to get control of the various cloud deployments, to gain insights and understand the costs and operating models of those specific applications. This is where Onesphere, which we announced recently at HPE Discover, comes in. Essentially Onesphere is a cloud-based solution which allows customers to manage their applications and workloads across multiple clouds, and also what hey have on premise. It allows them to build a catalogue of services, to understand what those services are costing across the different clouds, and to provide services out to their internal customers to deploy applications on any one of the environments that show up on that catalogue.
We see this as a critical tool and strategy for our customers. One of the benefits that public cloud brings is speed of deployment. Onesphere allows IT to provide that speed not just to the public cloud, but also to the private cloud or their traditional IT infrastructure. It essentially gives them a more public cloud-like experience across their entire hybrid estate. Onesphere was launched in November, and we’re running a beta program across Australia for the next six months, and we’ll have full deployment mid-2018.
ISAP: How are your SAP customers in particular seeking to tackle cloud?
RT: A lot of SAP customers are looking to move on to next generation technologies, and they’re looking to harness the power of consumption models of cloud, not having to run and build huge, expensive infrastructure. With HANA, they’re also looking for real business insights in real time in many cases. Their requirements are pretty strong in terms of the response times required. Not all the customers I’m seeing are wanting to go and move this to a public cloud, but not many are wanting to continue running these huge infrastructures on premise because of the cost and complexity.
We have recently announced the HPE Greenlake service, which provides a turnkey or end to end service in a consumption model. From a HANA perspective, we provide all the reference architecture, we provide all the design. We build, run, and manage the whole environment for the customers, then they can pay per use. The initial services will include HANA, backup as a service with Commvault, and big data solutions with Cloudera and Hortonworks. These are entire solutions where we just make it easy for the customer.
We have also launched in HPE a worldwide initiative called Cloud28+, which also helps to make purchasing cloud services more simple. It is a central portal for cloud service providers and systems integrators to publish their services, which we help manage and curate for our customers and other partners. Let’s say I’m a small manufacturing company, looking to get HANA as a service. I can go to the portal and put my requirements in and pay a fee. All the service providers and systems integrators have the ability to respond to it. Cloud service providers can also publish their services in the marketplace. There are about 500 HPE partners in there now, with about 17,000 services spanning from infrastructure as a service, platform as a service, and software as a service. All of these are delivered out of 280 data centres from across the world. There’s also professional services, cloud software and an app centre where customers can find tailored business services. We have now got a couple of partners in Australia and New Zealand, but we’ve been looking to accelerate this locally here in the region. This will also then help make it easier for our customers to get new services quickly.
ISAP: Looking ahead into 2018, where are the opportunities for IT leaders to do things differently to make their organisations more successful?
RT: Traditionally, a lot of companies and leaders I work with said they were unable to move at the pace of the business because the technology held them back to a certain extent. The opportunity is to get embedded into the business, use technology to help shape the strategic direction and being able to provide a digital platform for the business to transform itself holistically and ensure there are all the other associated benefits that come with it – speed, agility, and reduction of expense. This can then be used to fuel new projects in the business, whether it’s creating new services or new projects. In cases where the business leadership is still stuck in more traditional business models and struggling to transform, that’s where I think IT leaders can really step up.
The other opportunity is to really focus more on the business outcomes. There’s a lot of noise in the marketplace in terms of solutions and technologies, which many of us can get lost in. My recommendation is to focus on the business outcomes and then go and look at how you can solve them. Most of the leaders I work with are absolutely focused on those business outcomes, which typically drives a whole set of new value for the business from IT.