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Have you ever used the saying, “two sides of the same coin?” Indicating there are two ways of looking at the same thing, maybe two different interpretations of occurred situation?

If you look at private cloud services, you click on an URL, register yourself and start enjoying the beauty of an appealing solution experience. Your data persist in the cloud; you access it from wherever you are and whichever device you might have – the definition of online. This is the freedom of cloud applications in private life – and obviously the shining front of the coin.  Many people now have the same expectation for their work life applications…

However, if you flip this coin over, you might be in for a surprise.

In a modern Enterprise IT architecture, the front and the back of the coin might be radically different. The point is not to give you a lesson on coinage, but rather to illustrate how easily perceptions can deceive. Our expectations are formed by interpreting our experience. The ease-of-handling and lightness of cloud applications represented by the front of the coin often mislead in the world of Enterprise class cloud solutions.

The back of the coin represents the interoperability of Cloud data with other Enterprise data, which might lodge in OnPremise or in other Cloud solutions. This interoperability requires hard work and – more important - a clear concept.

Organizations adopt today´s Enterprise cloud for commoditized processes, like CRM (Lead2Opportunity), Procurement and HCM (Full HCM Suite). Companies do not primarily differentiate with these processes against their competition and see a value in standardization, and other cloud benefits.

Companies have to avoid information islands and fragmented processes in silo’d cloud solutions –the back of the coin. As an example, a complete view of my relationship with a customer requires accessing a significant number of data sources. 

This would require a strategy that encompasses cloud as well as other (e.g. on premise) solutions. The market is reacting to this as a recent survey shows (Wakefield research) that most CIO´s (67 percent) using cloud applications have already adopted some hybrid (interoperating cloud and on-premise) tools.

Integration vs. Interoperability

The CIO often states ‘integration’ as a barrier to cloud adoption (and then follows this up with a string of acronyms). The business user on the other hand (e.g. CMO, HR), could not care less about the technology. The do care about a Single Source of Truth and being able to rely on their data.

Let’s call it interoperability – having a single view of a customer (CRM) or an employee (HR) independent of where the data resides. This would require applications to work seamlessly with each other. In the example above, the sales representatives need to know: “What´s going on at my customer? Which deals are cooking? Which escalations do we have? What has been invoiced last month? Who recently interacted with my customer´s Organization? Sales Executives want to stay on top of shipping status, accounts receivable, orders and back orders etc.

Many customers have mentioned a common experience in the cloud during the past months:

Some cloud solutions initially do the job for the Line of Business user.  At a certain point in time, however, people recognize that cloud data exists in isolation and that the Enterprise context has been lost. Lets play this with our example in sales: after a successful sales cycle a “prospect” in CRM becomes a “customer” that gets an invoice, receives a quote and is managed in the distribution logistic after deal closing.  Do you want to create/manage/retire any of this data more than once? How do you ensure the consistency of the data, a perquisite to a happy customer and a successful business relationship?

What does it require to interoperate cloud solutions?

Enterprise customers are adopting cloud solutions, that´s a fact. And hybrid IT landscapes (mixture of cloud and on-premise) are becoming the new norm. Integration across the boundaries is a must to prevent application silos. You separate between Cloud Onboarding (One time initial data load from data to Cloud solution followed by continuous delta handling to keep the data synchronized) and Cloud Interoperability (Event triggered process integration between OnPremise and Cloud. Parts of the process run in the cloud while other are executed On-Premise).

As per the survey , a vast majority (75 percent) of hybrid users feel their companies IT processes are less complex after migration. At SAP we created a set of choices for Enterprise customer to execute End-to-End Processes:

  • We created Point-to-Point integration for simpler and highly standardized integration scenarios.
  • Our HANA Cloud Integration services connect systems with prepackaged integration content in a full cloud deployment
  • To leverage existing infrastructure: OnPremise SAP NW PI and SAP Data Services with prepackaged integration content for SAP2SAP via rapid-deployment solutions
  • Further Support existing Dell “Boomi” partnership for specific Integration scenarios
  • Option to use further third-party integration platforms using our Open certification program being gradually rolled out.
  • Allow Enterprise cloud customers to adopt cloud solutions at own pace and with own business priority and deliver flexible options to allow Interoperability of cloud to drive data and process transparency across boundaries and help business user become more efficient.
  • Support companies to embrace cloud as a business differentiator and a vehicle to drive change – not a technology discussion. Research supports this, nearly all respondents in recent survey (87 percent) feel that cloud solutions are important to their business.

Spin the Coin

If you take the coin and spin it ... then in the blur you see one single shiny coin. The SAP cloud portfolio has been designed to serve the hybrid cloud reality and help LoB users and IT teams work better together in the cloud. Focus on interoperability, and business will meet its goals.

Companies need to move fast – at the right speed (spinning the coin) but also in the right direction (business strategy). At SAP we call this Business Velocity, download this eBook for details.

Let us know what you think and follow us here on SDN or on twitter,

Bert Schulze (@BeSchulze) and Sven Denecken (@SDenecken)