CeBIT 2011, Part 1: Cloud Computing

Everything from the cloud: data, applications, services (image: Fotolia)
Everything from the cloud: data, applications, services (image: Fotolia)

Hope springs eternal: Just a year after the global financial crisis led to a general drop in revenue, the IT industry is looking to the future with optimism. If the forecasts of the German telecommunications association BITKOM are to be believed, we can expect high growth rates in cloud computing, tablet PCs and other mobile devices, apps, and social media; for more, see “Business IT Trends for 2011.”

At a recent press forum in Munich, Germany, leading business IT providers such as IBM, Steeb, Deutsche Telekom, and DATEV presented the products and trends they have in store for CeBIT 2011. This event will also focus on social media and mobile applications.

From laptops to electric cars

According to Christoph Witte of the German magazine Computerwoche, the emphasis at the upcoming CeBIT will largely shift from technological innovations to intelligent IT applications. Meanwhile, Dr. Gunter Dueck of IBM used his presentation to take a look back at the tremendous strides made in technology development in recent years: Thanks to extended battery life, for example, laptops have gone from lasting two to 10 hours without needing a recharge.

Dueck also cited the effects this improved battery performance is having in other areas. For instance, bicycles are currently being developed with battery-powered drive systems that will enable cyclists to traverse mountains and make pedaling passé. Electric cars are also set to escape their niche and enter the mass market.

Your pharmacy, online

Meanwhile, Dueck stated that cloud computing has more to offer than just online shops and software. From pharmacies to lectures and entire courses of study, entire services will soon be available online, and obscure license models and complex price systems are already a thing of the past. Thanks to price tables, users can now obtain an exact overview of how much different providers charge for their services, such as a gigabyte of storage.

According to Dueck, this type of competition is increasing transparency and measurability. Taking Apple’s iTunes Store as an example, other IT service and system providers will soon offer business software in the form of mobile solutions through their own app stores.

Next page: SAP Business ByDesign – a full-service solution from the cloud

SAP Business ByDesign – a full-service solution from the cloud

Mobile apps for business software and cloud computing are also the current main focus of the SAP partner Steeb. Since mid-2010, SAP Business ByDesign has been available in a number of competitively priced starter packages (see also “Three Starter Packages”). SAP is now the only company in the world offering an on-demand solution that covers all of its customers’ key business areas from the cloud.

Users can access SAP Business ByDesign by Web browser, and having all of their data hosted at SAP’s data center in St. Leon-Rot, Germany, gives them one fewer server rack to worry about in their own basements. Also in attendance at the forum was Steeb CEO Dr. Alexander Arnold, who said that since the solution has minimized the amount of consulting customers require, his company is turning its attention to the development of apps that will bring certain SAP Business ByDesign functions to its clients’ iPads.

One of the first companies to implement SAP Business ByDesign was Genesis, a manufacturer of hydraulic equipment for scrap processing, recycling, and demolition. According to Arnold, the solution meets every demand in the company’s production operations. Another key aspect of SAP Business ByDesign is its ability to fulfill all of the U.S. company’s compliance requirements.

While Arnold is satisfied with these results, he admitted that parts of the solution are not yet fully developed. The e-learning process also proved very time-consuming, which is why he recommends a method of on-the-job training. Finally, data migration problems left Steeb unable to meet Genesis’s original implementation schedule.

No security concerns

Arnold did report, however, that Steeb has seen no sign of the data security concerns some critics have raised. On the contrary, he described many smaller companies as not having the capacity to worry about such issues; all of their IT is often the responsibility of a single employee. With SAP Business ByDesign, everything is in the capable hands of SAP’s data managers in St. Leon-Rot. For more on this on-demand solution, be sure to visit Steeb at CeBIT in Hall 5, Stand A18.

Finally, DATEV – which develops software for tax advisors and financial employees – is setting its store in both on-premise and cloud computing solutions. At CeBIT, the company’s presentations will include on-demand applications for company management and order processing, which enable users to administer offers, delivery receipts, and invoices over the Internet.