Ahead in the Cloud: The Force Behind the Digital Revolution

Cloud computing is changing the way we live, and technology is at the heart of this transformation.

The next time you’re listening to your favorite Apple Music playlist, consider the technology that is making it possible for you to listen to whatever you want, wherever you want. It’s thanks to cloud computing that we can access vast libraries of digitized music through a system that connects a global network of remote servers, which in turn host huge amounts of data.

In fact, “huge? is an understatement: by 2025, there will be more than 100 zettabytes of data stored in the cloud. That’s a billion terabytes or a trillion gigabytes. And if you find it hard to wrap your head around the sheer vastness of that number, you are not alone.

Welcome to the Future

There is no doubt that cloud computing is one of the most profound technological innovations of our time. In the past, companies managed their hardware and software in a physical data center, but the virtual nature of the cloud offers a much more efficient alternative.

What’s more, the cloud creates the capacity for real-time updates and the ability to operate subscription models — like Apple Music, thanks to all the data hosted in the cloud’s remote network of servers.

At SAP, we have more than 230 million cloud customers and counting. We’ve been producing software for businesses since 1972, and for us it’s about hitting that sweet spot where we can combine our wealth of business expertise with cutting-edge cloud technology.

Take, for example, RISE with SAP. This comprehensive solution is designed for customers looking to migrate their businesses to the cloud and supports them wherever they are on the journey.

Pivot, Scale, and Engage

Cirque du Soleil is one of the world’s most impressive entertainment companies, not least due to its gravity-defying performances. When the pandemic hit and live events were abruptly cancelled, the company used the time to explore moving its business to the cloud so it could guard against future disruptions.

Philippe Lalumière, the company’s vice president of Information Technology, says: “Having the ability to quickly pivot, scale, and create new, engaging fan experiences has never been more important given the impact the global pandemic has had on the entertainment industry.”

For Elodie Bonniard, SAP Platform team lead with Cirque du Soleil, the company’s infrastructure needed to better reflect its agility. “Cirque has a cloud mindset,” she says. “The way we built the system 20 years ago does not reflect the company now. We needed to move to a system with less limitations.”

She makes the point that moving to the cloud was about business transformation, rather than it being an IT project — and a move designed to support the company as it grows.

Being in the cloud means Cirque du Soleil can more efficiently manage finance, procurement, merchandising, and costume production thanks to operations being automated, analytics-driven, and integrated. To put this into context, in 2019, before the pandemic hit, the costume workshop produced more than 15,000 costumes, each with an average lifespan of three months. That’s a lot of costume changes to manage. With the cloud, each item can be tracked in real-time, enabling far more efficient inventory management.

Find the Right Moment

In another example, Tate & Lyle, the global food and beverage business, used RISE with SAP to enable a key step in its ongoing transformation — a major project to split its operations into two to prepare for the sale of a part of its business, which will leave Tate & Lyle focused on food and beverage specialty solutions in the sugar reduction and sweeteners, mouthfeel, and fortification space.

In fact, Tate & Lyle’s group CIO Sanjay Patel had been looking for an opportunity to start the company’s journey to the cloud for a couple of years, and this separation presented the perfect opportunity.

“The most critical advice I can give is what I spent two years doing: find the right strategic trigger point to go on the journey,” says Patel.

Once Tate & Lyle began its journey to move ERP into the cloud, other improvements presented themselves. “When the separation came along and we were moving the infrastructure to the cloud, it made sense to change the database and operating system too,” Patel explains. “The long-term financials and business continuity risk made more sense with RISE.”

As cloud technology evolves, we evolve. At SAP, we will continue to power and help guide the development of these innovations for both businesses and consumers. Thanks to the cloud, our lives will never look the same again — in the best way possible.


Scott Russell is a member of the Executive Board of SAP SE and head of Customer Success.
This piece originally appeared on SAP BrandVoice on Forbes.