Manufacturing the Cloud: Exposing the Fake Cloud

Writing, blogging is of course a creative process and it’s funny the things that cause the initial spark and may end up being a full-fledged blog. I write most of my blogs over the weekend for some reason… probably because my overactive brain is looking for something to do without demos to prep for.

This particular blog I can trace back to a particular moment in time. It all started when one of our product managers pointed out SAP’s ridiculously long list of system requirements to run its "cloud" product, Business ByDesign, and I tweeted the following to industry analyst Frank Scavo (@fscavo):

Is BBD really a cloud app? Try finding a machine with all this at an internet cafe @fscavo @NetSuite #cloud #fakecloud

To which Frank replied:

@netsuite_gavin Per the NIST definition of cloud computing, #SAP ByD is a cloud app. make a good point. #SaaS

NIST, the National Institute of Standards and Technology? So of course, I did some research and found the following:

The NIST Definition of Cloud Computing:

Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand networkaccess to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction. This cloud model is composed of five essential characteristics, three service models, and four deployment models.

That's just the intro, but the interesting part is when you look at the characteristics, service models and deployment models. In particular:

Broad network access. Capabilities are available over the network and accessed through standard mechanisms that promote use by heterogeneous thin or thick client platforms (e.g., mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and workstations).

If you were to take a quick look at the system requirements for BBD, you would find a few interesting requirements:

  • Microsoft Silverlight
  • Crystal Reports Viewer plug-in for
  • Key users should have access to a
    Windows PC with Internet Explorer
  • Adobe Reader 8.1.3 or higher

Oh, but here's my favorite if you’re an Apple fan (this is a verbatim copy and paste from SAP’s web page):

  • MAC:
    • MS Office Integration is not
    • MS
      Excel-based Reporting is not supported.
    • Collaboration
      Scenarios based on Collaboration Window, including Telephony is not supported.
    • Install
      Additional Software (Excel-Add-in, Crystal-Add-in) is not supported.
    • Check
      Desktop-Settings: Mozilla Firefox extension not available.
    • Adobe
      LiveCycle Designer is not supported.

And lastly there’s the catch-all statement:

  • Business ByDesign offers additional Software which can be installed to optimize the
    integration of Business ByDesign with SAP's or other vendor's applications. Some of these Front End Components need additional prerequisites to run properly. More details can be found in the Software Requirements Section.

Let me tell you a quick story. It's New Year’s Eve 2010, and I've been working with one of our reps to close a last-minute opportunity but time was running out. Eventually I left the office and on the drive home I got a call that the deal came in and I needed to e-sign the agreement, which I did on my iPhone. We then headed to a friend’s house for a party, and on the way a question arose about some of the documentation.

When I got to the party, my friend let me use his iMac to log into NetSuite, locate the documentation and forward it to the appropriate person. After which time I was able to continue with more party-like activities. No, those are NOT part of this blog...

So how much, if any, of that could I have done with BBD? Not a lot...

My definition of cloud means you can access the system from any system and browser regardless of local permissions, plug-ins and ancillary software.

Even based on the NIST definition, BBD isn't even fake cloud. It's a poorly implemented cloud transition of an on-premise solution.

Gavin Davidson - Vertical Market Expert, Manufacturing



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