Cloud platform integration is a labor-intensive but worthwhile investment. From our newest paper on business networks, .

Cloud computing has transformed the business world by making IT more flexible and agile, allowing companies to remap workflows, reduce administrative overhead, and eliminate inefficiencies. But these are only incremental gains compared with those promised by the merger of disparate clouds, whether operated by different groups within the same company or by external business partners.

Integrating systems and building an infrastructure that can deliver these high magnitude results is the next big task for firms just now mastering one-off cloud projects. Gartner Vice President and Fellow Massimo Pezzini, writing at the Gartner website, says, “The problem of integrating cloud-based systems with each other and with established on-premises environments should be addressed with the same rigor and discipline that organizations have adopted to support on-premises data and application integration or e-commerce B2B integration.” This can be a difficult task, especially for companies supporting branch offices and foreign operations. The reward, though, is return on investment that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Download the full paper (free, but registration required).

Ralph Salomon, Head of IT Security, SAP

As IT security professionals, we work hard to develop new and more effective ways to protect our customers’ data. But even the most advanced, state-of-the-art security technology can be quickly undermined by the human factor.

That is, security technologies are only as effective as the people who use them. And if people on your team don’t understand how, why, and when to use security properly, they can compromise your critical information assets. Therefore, make sure your security practices include:

  • Built-in controls: Software engineers should make security controls an essential part of every day-to-day business process – without decreasing efficiency. In addition, they should include preventive controls that help identify errors. Or, better yet, include automatic alerts to potential errors.
  • Simple design: The more difficult or cumbersome a security measure is, the more likely it is to be ignored or disregarded. So design yours to be easy to understand and use.
  • Testing on users: The best way to know if your systems are easy to use is to test them on actual users. This important step helps avoid the tunnel vision that sometimes afflicts engineers who can’t relate to how “real” people think and work.
  • Training for everyone: Make sure that everyone on your team, from the CEO on down, understands why security is so important – and the consequences of any lapses. Conduct mandatory training on the full scope of your security methods. Then, provide refresher training every six months – or any time you modify your security regimen. And to be certain that these lessons are understood, require that everyone pass a written exam that includes simulations of real-world situations.

Mobile Devices
Mobile devices – including BYOD – are the perhaps the best example of the human factor at work.

Smartphones and tablets can be left on an airplane seat. They can be stolen from a handbag. They can be lent to a teenage child and never seen again. Things happen!

The impact can be catastrophic. Or, it can be no big deal. The difference lies in how the device is set up.

The best form of mobile device security is mobile device management (MDM) backed by encryption.

If a device is lost or stolen, MDM solutions wipe it clean by overwriting the encryption key, and the physical data remains encrypted. (In theory, data could be extracted and the thief may try to decrypt it. But AES 256 or even AES 128 will provide a high level of encryption security.)

There are also non-MDM methods and tools that allow you to overwrite the device’s memory with zeros. However these methods are not available remotely. They can only be used if the device is handed back to the IT pool.

For a closer look at how you can manage all aspects of Cloud security, including the human factor, check out “Protecting the Cloud,” a new report by Oxford Economics. To download a

Director, Technology Marketing, SAP

More and more organizations are recognizing the benefits of the cloud—one of which is the ready-to-use applications. The cloud application providers do all the hardware procurement, server administration, software maintenance, OS patches, and application upgrades. In addition, the applications are often updated with new features several times per year allowing the subscribers to benefit from the latest software advances. While this is clearly a savings in time for subscriber IT departments, it does present some new challenges along with the benefits.

One challenge is the ongoing need for integration. While most would agree it is a very good thing that applications in the cloud are updated with new features that are instantly available to subscribers, it does often require adaptation of the integration to other cloud applications or to on-premise applications. The application programming interfaces (APIs) of the cloud applications change as new fields or functions become available or obsolete fields are replaced with new enhancements. Without keeping these integrations current, application silos will form and inconsistent data proliferate. For mission critical applications such as providing your product catalog and availability details to your sales force, this up-to-date integration is critical. Application silos and inconsistent data are nonviable.

As more and more departmental functions are served by new cloud applications, the amount of integration between applications increases.  If you are hard coding the integrations manually point-to-point between applications, then you will quickly build up a brittle system of interdependencies, constantly requiring development effort to keep all of your applications working together and their data consistent. As the number of applications increases, the complexity of the interdependencies grows exponentially. Integration can be centralized with dedicated platforms. Monitoring integration in one place while leveraging reuse and common skillsets, without coding, make it faster and more manageable to keep up with changes. Integration platforms are now available in the cloud as well, allowing setup and execution of complex integration patterns among cloud and on-premises applications, for a simple subscription fee.

A well-thought out integration strategy for how an organization will connect cloud applications up front will save countless hours of effort. As cloud applications continue to grow in number and in importance to an organization, having a clear integration strategy in place will help the organization scale the growing need for integration as the business adapts to new cloud innovations.

Read the latest Oxford Economics study, , to learn how organizations harness the cloud integration challenge and grasp the opportunity of online business networks.

Few companies face the business and processing demands of DreamWorks Animation SKG. The producer of animated films (the “Shrek” and Madagascar” series among them) has 10 major movies in production at any given time and releases two or three films every year. At any moment, the firm must manage upwards of half a billion files and 250 terabytes of datafor a single film.The company operates from three primary locations—Glendale and Redwood City in California; and Bangalore, India—with nearly 2,500 animators, content producers, developers,and others collaborating on projects around the clock. DreamWorks Animation relies on clouds and cloud platforms to manage bandwidth, deploy infrastructure, manage storage,support development and programming tasks, and enhance collaboration.“In the past, we had to transport large numbers of people and IT resources to get movies made,” says Mr. Wallen, the company CTO. “We now have applications operating in a distributed cloud environment. They are tooled and instrumented to utilize Infrastructure-as-a-Service and Platform-as-a-Service.” While the environment is incredibly challenging, he says, the organization has “direct access to resources at lightning speed.”Coordination is key. “When you operate 10 different cloud services, each within a different business unit and from a different service provider, you have to work hard to ensure a high level of integration,” he says. Among other things, he constantly examines workflows, authentication, and security. “A modern business is not a collection of business units. It’s a collection of many functions managed by business units.” In the end, “The goal is to deliver the highest level of functionality and value.”

From our new paper on cloud platform integration, .

Axel Buelow, Interim CIO, SAP AG

With all its economic, technological, and strategic advantages, the Cloud is clearly here to stay. But that doesn’t mean it is fully formed. In the years ahead, the Cloud and its related technologies will continue to evolve. Among the developments I envision for the future are:

  • Increasing reliance: Over the next three to five years, a growing number of mobile workers will rely on Cloud services for all aspects of their daily lives. At the same time, enterprises will move more and more of their core business processes to the Cloud.
  • Hybrid model: The model for Cloud services will be a hybrid approach. That is, organizations will use public Cloud and other shared services in combination with “private” clouds that are isolated, restricted, and encrypted. This model will help ensure full access and proper security.
  • Data flows: To ensure that data is not exposed to the wrong people or devices, data flows will be controlled by data labeling and very granular permission models.

Staying Ahead of the Bad Guys
One of the most important prerequisites for the Cloud’s evolution will be security.

In our imperfect world, there will always be bad actors – from amateurs, to government-sponsored hackers, to cyberterrorist groups. And as long as there are, they will work tirelessly to defeat any security measures that are created by our best and brightest engineering minds. The temptation of so much Cloud-based data – which grows every day – is simply too great.

For the software industry, the only answer is to vigilantly protect our customers – one transaction at a time. Technologies such as in-memory computing, which allows real-time monitoring of transactions, help us stay one step ahead of the bad guys.

For example, let’s say someone’s credit card is stolen. An in-memory database can process both structured and unstructured data at unprecedented speeds. So in less than a second, a credit card company can comb through a cardholder’s entire history and identify that a transaction doesn’t fit the customer’s normal spending patterns. Then, they can place an immediate lock on the card.

What’s the Safest Place?
People sometimes ask me where I would store information that I considered to be very private – on a desktop, on a laptop, or in the Cloud. My answer is that I would choose any of these places as long as they had strong encryption.

In the future, the location of data will become less and less relevant, because data will be replicated between all your desktops, laptops, and mobile devices using Cloud storage as connection hub.

Data anywhere at any time will be a fundamental requirement. Therefore, we will need to continually isolate the data flows, and personalize them through encryption, tracking, and labeling.

Learn More
Data security should be everyone’s concern. So if you’d like to learn more, I recommend a new report by

Vice President, Technology Marketing, SAP

Many still see the cloud as just another place to consume software. People sitting in front of screens entering and looking at data, which just happens to no longer be stored in their own basement but in somebody else’s basement. Admittedly, this promises nice savings due to economies of scale on the provider side and reduced IT efforts on the consumer side. At the same time increased use of cloud-based software presents unique challenges and new opportunities.

Let’s look at one major challenge first—integration. Even if you’re only using a handful of cloud applications, you need to make sure that data is in sync between them. You can’t afford outdated contact data in your marketing app. Salespeople need up-to-date pricing and availability in the sales app. Your online catalog needs to contain your latest products with all commercial details.

Ascertaining integration between even a few apps requires a more systematic approach than the import, export and programming interfaces most applications provide out of the box. Integration platforms are now available in the cloud as well, allowing setup and execution of complex integration patterns among cloud and on-premises applications, for a simple subscription fee.

A major opportunity arises from the inherently networked nature of the cloud. It basically adds hosted and shared processing capability to the internet’s universal connectivity—a perfect combination for sophisticated business networks. The consumer already benefits through the use of major social media networks. Now it’s time for businesses to embrace the network effect as well.

Built on solid, elastic, extensible cloud platforms, well integrated with major on-premise and cloud business applications, these new business networks can easily bypass the issues earlier online marketplaces had. They can provide better and cheaper integration, easier onboarding, increased business model flexibility and much lower operating costs than the early B2B marketplaces.

Read the latest Oxford Economics study, , to learn how organizations harness the cloud integration challenge and grasp the opportunity of online business networks.

We talked before about the challenges companies face in the cloud: . But cloud leaders—companies with the most sophisticated cloud adoption strategies—are less concerned with data security and more sensitive to compliance and brand risk. From our current paper on security, .

In the book “ ” the author, Tom Standage states that

“The telegraph unleashed the greatest revolution in communications since the development of the printing press. Its saga offers many parallels to that of the cloud in our own time.”

As we try to understand the potential of Cloud, it is worth looking at this technology, and how it enabled the Modern World.

We all know that Samuel Morse invented the Telegraph and with it the need for his eponymous code. But Morse could have never foreseen the other business applications that would be built on his network, all of which are with us today.

  • Newspaper Wire Services
  • Wire Transfers
  • Stock Tickers
  • Futures Trading
  • Sears Roebuck and the Catalog
  • Railroads

The Network Effect of the telegraph was spectacular, for example look at the way the telegraph allowed Sears to offer products targeted at the newly connected rural areas, where people had few retail options and appreciated the convenience of being able to shop from their homes.

The company’s extensive catalogue would eventually become a fixture in American homes and changed the way people shopped. It also helped foster the growth of the mail-order industry worldwide.

My final example, Railroads, could never have been possible without the humble dots and dashes that allowed signalmen to control the points and switches. And the Railroads led to such fundamental changes in commerce, social patterns, leisure and warfare that it is impossible to imagine the twentieth century without them.

The Telegraph was a B2B revolution : consumers didn’t have one in their house, for example, and most people couldn’t speak the Code. The consumer revolution came with the telephone. However, even though they did not interact directly with Morse’s invention, the businesses that they used were transformed by it.

Cloud is essentially the reverse story. Consumers have jumped in first with online shopping, banking, travel and media. Up until now businesses have been in the strange situation of having electronic commerce at their fingertips at home, but existing mainly in the Paper Age in the office.

My Mum is able to access integrated payments, logistics and supplier ratings for her purchase of gardening gloves on Amazon; but a plant manager at a $1Bn industrial facility is hunting down the provider of a crucial gasket with the phone, and approving service entry sheets on paper.

But now it is time for B2B. Just as the telephone followed the telegraph allowing consumers to use the network that had been first used by business, now the Cloud Economy is following the Consumer Internet using the same wires. And since 80% of trade is essentially B2B, this will be a step change in the evolution of Cloud.

And just as Morse could never know all of the changes wrought by his telegraph, we don’t know all the other business that can be spawned by this Cloud revolution. But it will be equally transformative.

In an extensive interview with Boersen-Zeitung (Germany) on July 19, Werner Brandt, CFO of SAP, said he did not believe cloud computing was at risk from the debate about US secret service activities. He said, “Safety has always played an important role for us, both for on-premise software and for the cloud. We fulfill the highest EU standards which guarantee the safety of our clients’ data both from web attacks and from attacks in the cloud. We are the only global vendor of cloud applications with data centers in all world regions and the ability to tell clients that their processes run on servers based in their own region. We have not seen that the current data security has had an impact on our sales. We’re the fastest-growing cloud vendor. We expect cloud revenues of €1 billion for 2013, and we continue to aim for €2 billion in revenues by 2015.”