Enterprises must consider many different factors when building their cloud adoption strategy. It’s not easy, but the decisions are critically important. Learning the smart – and not so smart – choices other organizations have made can be enormously valuable. Project JEDI is an example of what not to do.
In 2018, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) launched the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) project to accelerate its adoption of cloud architecture and services. The contract was written to award the US$10 billion deal to a single commercial provider to build a cloud computing platform that supports weapons systems and classified data storage. With this ambitious project, the Pentagon intends to drive full-scale implementations and better return on investment on next-generation technologies including AI, IoT, and machine learning.
Here are key learnings from Project JEDI that enterprises should take very seriously.
The JEDI contract’s fundamental issue arose from the fact that it considered a single cloud provider to chart out its entire cloud strategy. This caused great stakeholder dissonance, in large part because alignment with just one provider could result in losing out on ongoing innovation from other providers.
Because a single cloud strategy offers advantages including lower upfront cost and streamlined systems, enterprises often adopt this approach. But a multi-hybrid architecture allows them to tap into the best of multiple providers’ capabilities and stay ahead on the technology curve.
A well-planned multi-hybrid cloud strategy offers the following benefits:
Project JEDI is completely dependent on a single cloud model, which exposes it to significant lock-in risks such as threat to transfer of data, application, or infrastructure. All of these can have a lasting negative impact on business continuity.
An open cloud model allows application interoperability and portability, and saves enterprises from vendor lock-in. Enterprises should be open to exploring open source or open design technologies for cloud. They should also consider implementing DevOps tools, container technology, and configuration management tools, as they will allow them to deploy their applications to diverse IT environments. All these options reduce the lock-in risks that stem from proprietary configurations, and enable organizations to easily, and with minimal technical costs, switch between providers based on business objectives.
The Pentagon recently awarded the JEDI contract to Microsoft. However, in the initial stages, the project garnered massive attention for its alleged preference to Amazon Web Services (AWS,) which has been involved in multiple government contracts for providing cloud support. Critics of the contract cited that an alleged unfair relationship between DoD employees and AWS would lead to inherent bias and rigged competitive bidding.
While existing relationships are important and can deliver strong value, enterprises should carefully evaluate their vendor portfolio against their workload needs. In most cases, a combination of different vendors will provide the most optimum solution. For example, Java workloads are known to work best with AWS, .NET workloads work best with Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) is most suited for analytics workloads.
A wide range of stakeholders are involved in selecting a cloud provider, and each of their needs, interests, and pre-existing biases must be addressed to avoid project derailment. For example, President Trump’s distaste for Amazon is cited as the prime reason that the JEDI project was awarded to Microsoft rather than AWS.
One of cloud project leaders’ most critical responsibilities is identifying and understanding stakeholders’ vendor biases and bringing them into alignment with business objectives if the biases are based on something other than facts.
The DoD’s approach to Project JEDI led to a prolonged delay in its aspirations in adopting cloud architecture and services and developing leading cloud-based AI capabilities. Avoiding the DOD’s missteps will help enterprises more quickly shape and secure a cloud-based contract that satisfies all stakeholders and supports their organizations’ business agenda.
Shared Services / Global In-house Centers Leading in Digital Services Expansion
As part of our enterprise platform services research, we reached out to 15 global IT service providers and some of their key enterprise clients to understand their views on the leading cloud ERP vendors: Microsoft Dynamics 365, Oracle ERP Cloud, and SAP S/4 HANA.
We then analyzed their input against five important parameters.
Who’s the winner? Oracle ERP Cloud.
Here’s a drill-down on our analysis of the five parameters.
Microsoft and SAP are still struggling to migrate all the on-premise functionalities to their cloud offerings. In fact, many of the enterprises we spoke with consider Dynamics 365 and S/4 HANA simplified versions of their on-premise offering, but with some functionality gaps. On the other hand, Oracle has made significant headway in its migration and is stepping up to integrate emerging technology capabilities into its cloud offering. Microsoft and SAP also lack case study-based proof points that demonstrate the maturity of their solution.
Although implementation completion time is consistent among the three vendors’ cloud offerings, there are significant variations among their ease of integration. Because of its Fusion middleware, Oracle ERP Cloud is considerably easier to integrate with on-premise systems and other third-party applications than the others. SAP ranks lowest on this parameter, mainly because of challenges associated with integrating other SAP cloud offerings, such as SuccessFactors, Ariba, Concur, and Hybris, with the core S/4 HANA and on-premise SAP products.
Here, Microsoft fares better than both Oracle and SAP. It has a friendlier licensing model wherein it bundles its cloud ERP offering with CRM and other Microsoft products. In comparison, SAP’s limited features and functionalities make mid-sized enterprises its largest buyer group. And Oracle’s hosting environment isn’t particularly flexible; it is pushing to keep the NetSuite and Oracle ERP Cloud workloads in-house on the Oracle platform.
Because of Oracle’s and SAP’s strong presence in the on-premise ERP market, there’s an abundance of talent with the knowledge to be upskilled to implement, integrate, and manage their cloud-based offerings. In fact, supply is larger than demand. But Microsoft is struggling here, with a ~20 percent demand-supply gap for trained developers and integration consultants.
Over the past few years, Oracle has been able to improve its end-user experience with software updates. Microsoft is trying to create a better customer experience with its integrated enterprise offering. Dynamics 365 engagements are no longer just standalone ERP or CRM engagements; instead, oriented around a transformational impact message, they also encompass Office 365, Azure cloud services, and the Power platform. SAP is creating a better customer experience by collaborating effectively with its clients on implementation and maintenance issues. But it still delivers an inconsistent user experience between its on-premise and cloud version. While all three vendors have made strides in delivering a better customer experience, Oracle rose to the top on this parameter.
Our analysis shows that Oracle ERP Cloud is the clear, present winner in the war among the top three vendors. Although Microsoft and SAP are catching up with Dynamics 365 and S/4 HANA, and are doing great in specific niches, it will take some time before they evolve their offerings and establish some credible proof points across different industries.
Watch this space for additional blogs on the kind of challenges enterprises are facing with cloud ERP adoption, and what they should do to tackle them.
With the massive size of the public cloud market, it’s reasonable to assume that there’s plenty of pie for each the top three vendors –Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and Microsoft Azure (Azure) – to get their fill.
But the truth is that they’re all battling to capture even larger slices. While this type of war has happened in other technology segments, this one is unique because the market is growing at 30-40 percent year-over-year.
Here are a few examples of the current ugly wars these vendors are waging against each other.
AWS is luring away Azure customers. Channel checks suggest that AWS is incentivizing clients to move their Windows workloads to Linux. The next step is to move their SQL Server workloads to other databases (e.g, PostgreSQL). Of course, it won’t stop there; there will be an entire migration strategy in place. And there have even been a few instances in which AWS has funded clients’ early PoCs for this migration along with the implementation partner.
Azure is pushing for AWS migration. It isn’t uncommon for many mid-sized implementation partners to make their client pitch solely on the fact that they can migrate AWS virtual instances to Azure and achieve 20-30 percent, or more, cost savings. It also isn’t uncommon for Microsoft to bundle a lot of its offerings, e.g., Office 365, to create an attractive commercial bundling for its broader cloud portfolio against AWS, which lacks an enterprise applications play.
GCP is pushing Kubernetes cloud and Anthos. GCP’s key argument against AWS and Azure is that they are both “legacy clouds.” The entire Kubernetes cloud platform story is becoming very interesting and relevant for clients. More so, for newer workloads, such as AI, Machine Learning, and Containers, GCP is pushing hard to take the lead.
Each of these vendors will continue to find new avenues to create trouble for each other. Given that Azure and GCP are starting from a low base, AWS has more to lose.
So, how will the cloud war play out? Three things will happen going forward.
The vendors have realized that clients can relatively easily move their IaaS, and even PaaS, offerings to another cloud. Therefore, they’ll push to make their clients adopt native platform offerings that cannot be easily ported to different clouds (e.g., serverless). While some of the workloads will be interoperable across other clouds, parts will run only on one cloud vendor’s stack.
While the vendors will acknowledge that implementation partners will always have cloud alliances, they’ll push to have preferred partner status for specific workloads such as database lift and shift, IoT, and AI. For this, most cloud vendors will partner with strategy consulting firms and implementation partners to shape enterprises’ board room agenda.
In 2018, Google acquired cloud migration specialist Velostrata. This year, both AWS and Azure launched migration kits targeting each other’s clients. This battle will soon become even fiercer, and will encompass not only lift and shift VM migration, but also workloads such as database instances, DevOps pipelines, application run time, and even applications.
With the cloud giants at war, enterprises need to be cautious of where to place their bets. They need to realize that working with cloud vendors will become increasingly complex, because it’s not only about the offerings portfolio but also the engagement model.
Here are three things enterprises should focus on:
The cloud wars have just begun, and will become uglier going forward. The cloud vendors’ deep pockets, technological capabilities, myriad offerings, and sway over the market are making their rivalries different than anything your business has experienced in the past. This time, you need to be better prepared.
What do you think about the cloud wars? Please write to me at [email protected].
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Microsoft graduated from its rebellious, ’90s, teenage years to become an enterprise leader across some of the hottest computing domains, from software and cloud to analytics and AI.
It was a journey not without bumps, but one that has solidified Microsoft at the top of a market largely dominated by consumer-focused tech companies. Smart is the new sexy, and Microsoft has expertly played the market.
Six years ago, Abhishek Singh, vice president at the Everest Group, would not have expected Microsoft to hold the position of power it does today, he said in an interview with CIO Dive. But the company has pivoted from trying to be a dominant platform player to establishing a presence across platforms, reacting to a cloud market where customers can tap into new sources of storage, compute and platforms.
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