Critical business edge and agility with dev and test workloads in the public cloud

Swen Conrad
Use Case

AWS Summit New York: Nobody can explain it better than AWS CTO Werner Vogels

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Werner Vogels, AWS CTO, put it very eloquently in his AWS Summit keynote in New York City yesterday: The world has changed and business is a matter of survival these days. The times are over where established companies could be sure of their markets for many years ahead. Small upstarts are innovating quickly and building point solutions that change the status quo, for example with faster and more accurate risk models in Fintech. – But what does that have to do with Dev and Test workloads in the cloud?

Dev and Test – The KILLER workload in the cloud?!

As Vogels continues, no other workload besides Dev and Test has a higher impact on the creation of successful new products and solutions (see the video here). Delivered via the cloud, it enables your dev teams to:

  • Start development projects faster without delay in Dev system provisioning, resulting in 2 – 3x productivity.
  • Test any solution at the desired fidelity and time, for example using 20 systems sequential.
  • Save significant cost, for example by switching off resources with savings up to 75%!


Business results through development agility – “Conquer sooner or fail faster”

The above characteristics of cloud provisioned Dev and Test systems translate directly into increased business value. Any new project/solution with a shorter time to market is able to produce positive returns sooner. Or sometimes also “fail faster” which in turn frees up valuable resources for other projects, resulting in reduced opportunity cost.

Being able to test systems more effectively and efficiently increases solution quality (and again time to market) and let’s a company test a variety of usage scenarios including after go-live in case of any system issues and without much lead time for test planning.

And lastly, saving cost by turning off expensive resources in off hours is a no-brainer. Who wants to pay for idling resources if a simple shut down, either scheduled, manually or also based on usage patterns like idle time can avoid this without any side effects?


Case study: Evaluate SAP S/4 HANA for potential migration and project scoping

SAP HANA rocks, I know that from own experience. It is a very robust and incredibly high performing database with broad capabilities; well, most of us know that by now. And I also think that S/4 HANA is a game changing step for SAP and also its customers that adopt it. But, I do not know how critical it would be for my business right at this time and how much effort it would take to implement. And worst of all, in a traditional IT world, I have no easy way to drive to a rational conclusion on the above questions other than the two below path:

  1. Option – Analytical approach
    Thorough conventional scoping and analysis of both the business and the new S/4 capabilities provide an initial business case and scope document. Without actual test systems to confirm the plan, these results are frequently based on a set of assumptions.  
  2. Option – Experimental approach
    This involves the setup of Test and POC infrastructure for hands-on testing, experimentation and validation. While definitely my preferred approach over the above conceptual analysis, it normally results in high cost and effort in a traditional on premise IT environment.

Ideally, a combination of option 1 and 2 will give any company the best overall S/4 assessment, scoping and planning results. But is it practical to make a significant investment of time and money to just evaluate a new technology? – Imagine, you had to buy a car at a dealership in order to test drive it. I don’t think the car dealer would make lots of business, wouldn’t he?


The cloud approach for evaluating and picking the right IT projects for maximum business value

In the HANA example above, wouldn’t it be so much easier and faster to combine option 1 and 2 but use cloud infrastructure resources for the hands-on POC evaluation? Why would any company, before a solution or project has been proven and approved, already invest time and money into infrastructure resources? Honestly, if I was the decision maker, I would not. Instead, renting cloud resources on demand for as long as I need, is the way to go.

And even better, assuming the S/4 HANA POC is wildly successful, cloud again let’s you easily and quickly move from POC stage to full blown implementation including changing demands on system landscapes for development, testing and training.

So in short, fast cloud based POCs let you separate the chaff from the grain: In other words, pick the winning projects quickly, expand the foot print of the solutions that deliver best business return and identify/kill the under-performing projects quickly.


Ocean9 for SAP HANA on AWS: Enabling Dev and Test workload at ease

I have neglected one important point in this blog so far: Just like on premise, you do require certain skill and expertise when setting up enterprise class infrastructure on AWS. And that required cloud skill set is in high demand. So what then?

This challenge plus the immense promise of cloud motivated us to build the Ocean9 for SAP HANA on AWS solution. When I explain it to customers, I frequently describe it in the following fashion:

“Imagine, you got approval to start your S/4 HANA evaluation project and are eager to get going. With Ocean9, you can provision the appropriate AWS configuration of choice in well under one hour.

Next, the initial limited POC for S/4 HANA goes extremely well and the team gets approval to move ahead and kick-off the full blown implementation. Again, with Ocean9 you can very easily setup all required systems. And in terms of sizing, you can start small and scale up after you have reliable numbers on HANA compression.

Then, an unforeseen challenge or need and yes, you think a fresh sandbox system would be best to move forward: Configure and click deploy and a few minutes later you are again ready to go.”

As a reference, here the most relevant Ocean9 features for Dev and Test workloads at a glance; some of them you can easily absorb via the screen shots of the Ocean9 solution below:

  • Initial deployment
    -  Determine valid AWS System Choices for your SAP HANA system need
    -  Understand and evaluate all pricing options
    -   Automatically provision the system in under 20 minutes

  • Ongoing development operations
    -  Scheduled backup with point-in-time recovery
    -  Replicate and clone systems
    -  System monitoring

  • Cost optimization
    -  Rely on cost optimized AWS configurations by Ocean9 with continuous improvements
    -  Leverage reserve instance pricing if appropriate; can be introduced at any time
    -  Start/stop system manually, per schedule or based on automatic idle detection

    -  Experience a new level of IT development agility and efficiency
    -  Adjust systems in sync with changing project assumptions and goals
    -  Move Capex to Opex

NOTE: I explain the power of Ocean9 for SAP HANA both to customers and System Integrators in this same fashion. We can equally help companies with a single implementation or System Integrators with a pipeline of opportunities. Just two sides of the same coin.

Screen 1: All certified SAP HANA configurations at your fingertips
Screen 2: Specification Summary, Pricing Options and an easy process to document or provision

A word on production deployment

Starting a project in the cloud by no means determines the later deployment of the productive solution; after all, IT is hybrid! But even the strong intent of running the final solution on premise does not negate the tremendous advantage of starting a majority of projects in the cloud.

And who knows, maybe exploring the cloud for Dev and Test and having a positive experience may change your mind and approach overall. I could not see a more natural path of growing into cloud than this!

I hope you will be joining the “many organizations [that] are taking a hybrid cloud approach: Running development and test environments in the public cloud and production applications on premises” (Mark Pfeiffer on TechTarget).


Don’t take my word for it!

If you like to find out and see for yourself, please watch this 5 min video showing a complete system deployment of SAP HANA on AWS with Ocean9.

Comments anybody?

Please leave your comments, thoughts and questions below, I will be sure to answer them.

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