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enterprise private cloudYou have to hand it to the Rolling Stones. They foretold the current debate over cloud computing back in 1965 in their hit single, Get Off of My Cloud. The song sums up the anxieties of all public cloud users in its lyric, “Don’t hang around ’cause two’s a crowd.” Seriously, though, cloud computing has been transformative but the public cloud is not for everyone just yet. One alternative that continues to make sense, especially in SAP circles is a private cloud. Enterprise private cloud delivers the isolation you expect and need along with the familiar virtualization that you have trusted within your own four walls. Private cloud is a great bridge allowing you the time and resources to develop and maintain SAP public cloud skills and IQ.

What is private cloud in cloud computing?

“What is a private cloud?” is a perfectly legitimate question. For many, cloud computing is defined by the hyperscale cloud providers with remote, abstracted data centers where you rent compute capacity as needed. This is the public cloud, as exemplified by Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud. These public cloud service providers (CSPs) enable you to set up and run almost any kind of compute and storage you could imagine—with both reserved and on demand billing models. One of its biggest attractions is the way it frees you from the hardware capital investment cycle and greatly shortens the time to innovation. The public cloud also allows you to transition from a world of supporting infrastructure on-premises.

A private cloud has most of the same core benefits associated with public hyperscale clouds, but also provides greater flexibility over the resources that you can allocate, allowing you more control as you right size and tight your solutions. This allows you to continuously tune your SAP landscapes. Private cloud also gives you greater control over the configuration of your solutions including the ability to bring your own customer owned hardware to the party.

Examples of private cloud

The major IT infrastructure players offer great private cloud solutions. For example, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has its Helion Cloud Suite software, which turns regular servers and storage into a cloud computing infrastructure. VMware has vSphere and its vRealize Suite cloud management platform along with the Cloud Foundation Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC) platform for private clouds. Open source options are available as well, including OpenStack.

SAP cloud options

The SAP world has made things a bit muddled in terms of public and private cloud. The SAP S/4HANA Public Cloud, for example, comprises a range of industry-specific offerings (e.g., manufacturing, professional services, etc.) distributed by SAP in a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model. It’s suitable for smaller companies and smaller landscapes.

S/4HANA Cloud Private Option offers companies the flexibility of SAP HANA but in a standardized SAP private cloud. As a tenant, you get your own dedicated virtual private cloud (VPC), which can be hosted in whatever language, country or region you need. The Custom HANA Enterprise Cloud enables enterprises to migrate their existing landscapes and modify their S/4HANA solution in whatever way they see fit.

The SAP Cloud Platform is a Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering designed for the purpose of SAP development. For SAP HANA tenants, it provides valuable tools for developing and customizing landscapes and adding connectivity, e.g. with IoT devices.

Third-party private clouds, like Symmetry’s, offer the best of both worlds.  Symmetry managed private cloud solutions are virtual private clouds that are available in managed or unmanaged configurations. The Symmetry SAP purpose-built platforms are designed and configured specifically to optimize all SAP workloads including SAP HANA and S/4HANA. We deliver Symmetry’s private cloud on a state-of-the-art technology platform across five global hosting locations, all backed by next-generation monitoring and 99.999% uptime Service Level Agreements.

What are the benefits of a private cloud?

Why would you want to place your SAP landscapes in a private cloud? For starters, in private cloud you are not sharing infrastructure with the whole world. In a hyperscale cloud, you may end-up sharing platform resources on the same host as any number of customers running every possible workload, all with dynamic demands. This brings with it the risks associated with not only noisy neighbors, but neighbors that have Public IP exposure (by design).

Compare this with SAP private clouds where networks are locked down and connectivity is delivered over virtual private networks. At Symmetry, we place customers on hosts with compatible workloads based on capacity and performance. As a result, we deliver a consistent and truly private cloud experience. Furthermore, you can configure and tune the hardware for your specific workloads, e.g. data analytics or transaction processing. This is so that it performs the way you want in order to meet your specific business needs.

5 Key considerations for enterprise private cloud

Adopting an enterprise private cloud design for the demands of a large-scale business—comes with its share of challenges. Based on our experience hosting SAP in private cloud environments for our clients, as well as helping clients migrate their SAP landscapes to their own, internal private clouds, we feel it’s important to pay attention to the following five key considerations:

  1. Private vs. public vs. hybrid vs. multi-cloud — In many cases, the choice between public and private cloud is not absolute. For one thing, some of your SAP landscapes may stay on-premises for at least some period of time. It’s a rare organization indeed that would migrate all of their IT workloads to the cloud in one move. Some customers elect to put part of their infrastructure in the public cloud, or clouds. Using more than one CSP (eg. AWS and Azure) is known as multi-cloud. Or, they put some infrastructure on-premises, some in the public cloud and the rest in private cloud. These are hybrid architectures. They enable you to run things the way you want, but save money where possible with public cloud.
  2. Security and compliance — Security and compliance issues may make a private cloud more attractive than a public cloud. With healthcare, for example, you could not legally store patient records in the public cloud until just recently. Staying on top of the ever-changing public cloud ecosystem requires time and resources. From there, though, it gets more nuanced. The perception of the cloud being insecure is less and less accurate as time goes on. Chances are, Azure and AWS have better security than you could ever muster. However, public cloud providers work on a “shared responsibility” model. They secure the hardware and the network. You secure your software and data while overseeing your access controls. You, or your cloud partner have to be sure you’re on top of it. Especially when managing data that is transferred between cloud and on-premise instances. An enterprise private cloud reduces the risk that unauthorized people will have access to your cloud infrastructure.
  3. Cloud hardware — Hardware choices, including storage and network switches, will typically be somewhat different for a private cloud than they will be for a standard enterprise software deployment and Public Cloud. The workloads and traffic loads are important to understand in an SD-WAN (Software Defined) world. It’s essential to think through hardware and network needs in depth. An external advisor can be helpful in this process.
  4. Enterprise cloud data management — You have to map out where your data is going to be stored in a private cloud. This is particularly relevant if applications outside the private cloud need to access the same data.
  5. Disaster recovery — It’s important to prepare and realize a disaster recovery plan for your enterprise private cloud. Using a public cloud instance as a failover may be a good practice in this regard. It can give you some diversity in terms of networks and geographic locations.

Cloud hosting and managed services

Without an abundantly staffed SAP team full of cloud computing experts, it’s probably not wise to try creating a private SAP cloud on your own. Working with an SAP partner that hosts private cloud instances for its customers is a better option, in most cases. We do this for our clients. Our next-generation enterprise private cloud has the scalability and automation you find in the public cloud. But with the security and compliance benefits of the private cloud.

If you’re thinking about harnessing an enterprise private cloud, consider making it part of your managed services strategy. Whether you’re looking for a complete migration and managed services provider, or just want someone to help you brainstorm your migration, we’d love to help you plan your journey to the right private cloud option for your business.

Jay Graboff, Cloud Product Manager

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.