Recap: Virtualization and Cloud Week

Cloud technology is driving partner projects at SAP Co-Innovation Lab (source: Flickr)
Cloud technology is driving partner projects at SAP's Co-Innovation Lab (source: Flickr)

Last year, SAP emerged “guns blazing” with the announcement of a new four-pronged strategy, the acquisition of Sybase, and an intensified focus on mobility.  The company continued to build momentum at SAP Virtualization and Cloud Week 2011, which took place April 12-14 at SAP Labs in Palo Alto.

The sold-out event featured more than 40 sessions, educating attendees on the latest strategic developments in the field of virtualization. Kaj van de Loo, Senior Vice President of Technology Strategy for SAP, gave the keynote speech, and representatives from VMware, Citrix, and Rackspace participated in a panel discussion called “Cloud Computing: What’s Next.” Other sessions highlighted how SAP customers and SAP internally use virtualization and cloud technologies to improve the efficiency and cost effectiveness of their IT infrastructures.

Audio replays of the keynote, sessions, and panel discussion can be found on the SAP Virtualization and Cloud Week website. The audio quality is mixed, but PowerPoint presentations are also available for download on the website. Below, we provide a recap of van de Loo’s keynote speech. You can also watch an interview with him, here.

“It’s a natural evolution,” said van de Loo of the decision to include cloud in this year’s event. “It all started with virtualization technology, but people have been adding more and more automation to the virtualized environments so that you get these automatically scaling infrastructures that we call cloud infrastructures. The topics of virtualization management of systems in virtual environments have been maturing, and this is reflected in this year’s event.”

Kaj van de Loo described the evolution of virtualization and cloud (source: Flickr)

van de Loo stressed that SAP employees take cloud absolutely seriously (emphasis his). “This is probably the biggest shift in computing infrastructure since the introduction of client-server. We all know what happened to the companies who got [client-server] right, like SAP, and the companies that didn’t, which we have forgotten the names of today.”

Virtualization and cloud first began to gain ground during the beginnings of the financial crisis. The potential for cost-saving certainly was the main driver of people’s increased interest in these technologies, said van de Loo. “As we explored the technology more and learned better how to use it, the focus shifted away from pure cost to agility at acceptable cost,” van de Loo explained. “Now, today, it is much more than that. It is a new way of dealing with IT, a self-service notion.”

The sold-out event featured hosted over 40 sessions on innovations in virtualization and cloud computing (source: Flickr)
The sold-out event featured over 40 sessions on innovations in virtualization and cloud computing (source: Flickr)

Customers seemed to share van de Loo’s opinion of the importance of virtualization and cloud technologies in the enterprise. Attendee Joseph Zeinoun, solution architect at Raytheon, said, “My role is to communicate to my company what the SAP strategy is, and also that of other vendors, in terms of the entire IT portfolio and architecture, so [Raytheon] can align the IT strategy with the business goals,” he says.

Zeinoun, a third-time Virtualization and Cloud Week attendee, was heartened to see that the sessions and the event content reflected the evolution from virtualization to cloud. “The market and the demand have evolved over the past couple of years. Before, the focus was virtualization, but now everyone is talking about the cloud: What is it? What does it mean to you? How can you actually implement it in your organization? It’s very good expansion of the scope of the event, so [customers] can actually see how SAP will react and provide solutions to their customers.”

Cloud: What is it? What does it mean to you? SAP employees, customers, and partners discuss (source: Flickr)
Cloud: What is it? What does it mean to you? SAP employees, customers, and partners discuss (source: Flickr)

SAP’s Cloud strategy

Here is SAP’s cloud strategy in a nutshell:

  • Cloud-enable on-premise SAP solutions. This means supporting customers, with tools, technology, and value added services, in running some or all of their existing SAP on-premise systems in a private and public cloud.
  • Build out SAP cloud offerings through on-demand solutions targeted to lines of business and personal productivity. SAP Business ByDesign will be the first comprehensive business suite on-demand.
  • Leverage the ecosystem and build alliances with strong partners. This will enable SAP to rapidly expand the SAP solution scope and provide a commercial platform with an application store at the center to market SAP and partner solutions.
  • Invest in the next-generation platform

Partners in the Cloud

SAP announced the new Cloud Services Provider Certification Program at the event. A key part of SAP’s cloud strategy, the program focuses on training up partners with SAP skills to use certified environments and support infrastructure for SAP applications. There are 20 certified partners of cloud services today, including IBM, T-Systems, Verizon, and CapGemini. SAP’s aim of partnering in the cloud is to create value for mutual customers. Extensions to SAP solutions, easier integration and orchestration of on-demand applications built on non-SAP platform-as-a-service offerings, and reduced TCO are all expected benefits.

There is no doubt that there was a lot to absorb from Virtualization and Cloud Week 2011, but – in the end – van de Loo stressed that it’s all about keeping it simple: “SAP can do simple things in a simple way. When did you last hear that?”

Watch an interview with SAP partner CapGemini, here

Or, check out an interview with SAP customer Raytheon, here.