As part of our recent cloud series, Surety Systems’ Aaron Chappell recently had a chance to sit down with Oracle’s Gary Grieshaber, currently the Vice President of Product Strategy for the JD Edwards development organization, to talk about the hybrid cloud and how it works into the cloud options available to organizations. Today we wanted to share that conversation with you.

Gary Grieshaber on Hybrid Cloud

Aaron Chappell: So Gary, can you give us a brief intro?

Gary Grieshaber: I’ve been in the IT industry for almost 30 years and at Oracle and JD Edwards for 16 years in a variety of roles, from Development to Product Management. Currently, I’m the Vice President of Product Strategy for the JD Edwards development organization.  

Aaron Chappell: How would you explain Hybrid cloud to someone who is new to the ERP space?

hybrid-bucketGary Grieshaber: Hybrid cloud involves using public cloud services in combination with on-premise and, optionally, more traditional IT services. Hybrid deployment allows you to derive value from public cloud solutions while maximizing your current investment in the JD Edwards system. We see many, many scenarios that we would put into this bucket of Hybrid cloud.

Aaron Chappell: What are a few specific examples available within JDE?

Gary Grieshaber: I think there are three key scenarios. In the first scenario, you run JD Edwards in a public cloud, taking JDE out of your own data center and turning over the layers of the technology stack to a public cloud service provider such as Oracle. In this model, you turn over the management of the compute and the storage, the server infrastructure, and pay for usage volume either per CPU or per month. You pay for it as an operational expense.

In the second scenario, you just move up the technology stack, turning over not only the server infrastructure — compute network storage, power, things like that — but then also turn over the management of the database and other components of the platform, like the Java application server that’s a prerequisite for JD Edwards. So that would be the next option to further take advantage of public cloud services.

The third scenario takes place at the application level. It involves a coexistence scenario of SaaS applications that complement your JD Edwards applications.

Aaron Chappell: What, in your opinion Gary, would be the main benefits of a hybrid cloud strategy, instead of keeping everything on Premise?

hybrid-benefitsGary Grieshaber: A hybrid cloud strategy allows you to realize the business benefits that the cloud offers. The first benefit is agility, how quickly you can provision new systems in response to your business needs. Perhaps you’re doing an acquisition, expanding into a new market, or trying to introduce a new product: Hybrid enables you to have the IT system to respond to those needs rapidly.

Scaling is another benefit — as your business grows, the cloud grows with you. You don’t have to pay more than you need upfront. Maybe you’re a small growing company and you need a certain amount of capacity in year one, but by year three you’re going to double that capacity. This allows you to manage your cash flow and pay for the services you need as your business grows.

The third benefit is that a hybrid cloud strategy allows you to focus on your core competencies. Is being in the data center business the core competency for a manufacturing company? Typically it’s not — their core competency is designing and manufacturing products. Getting out of the data center business allows you to focus your internal resources on your core competencies.

Those are just the general advantages of the cloud. With a hybrid cloud strategy, you can adopt those public cloud services as they make sense for your business. So it’s all about choice and control because most of our customers aren’t starting with a blank sheet of paper. They’re not starting from scratch where they could say, “Okay, we’re going to put everything into the public cloud.” Most organizations have existing systems that they need to continue to maintain. While the long-term strategy may be to move to a public cloud, that will happen over time — perhaps a decade or longer. By adopting a hybrid cloud strategy they can do what makes sense for their business.

Aaron Chappell: Are there specific obstacles that have kept companies from adopting hybrid so far? What’s the biggest challenge there?

Gary Grieshaber: I think a lot of the challenges are the same ones that customers face when adopting the public cloud in general. They have to ask themselves questions such as “Do I have a trusted service provider that I can trust with my data?” Many of our customers are multinational companies who confront country-specific challenges, such as data residency laws that require companies to keep data in a specific country or region. Each company will have a different strategy overall, so establishing that strategy and putting in place standards and governance models around public cloud services is critical.

Security, compliance, integration with other systems, and managing your data are a few of the challenges that arise from moving to a hybrid cloud model.

Aaron Chappell: What advice would you give to someone who is a CIO, a VP of IT, or in a Director-level role that is taking a look at incorporating a hybrid model into their IT strategy — what should their thought process look like?

buying-cycleGary Grieshaber: The whole buying cycle in the industry is changing from being controlled primarily by IT to being led by a line of business. Many decisions, now that the systems can be very easily procured in the cloud, can be made by the line of business. They can go out and, independently of IT, make a selection — but in the end, IT needs to own it anyway. So I‘d say that IT should definitely take a leadership role in forming an alliance with their line-of-business counterparts.

IT and the line of business leaders should work collaboratively to create a selection process so that everyone understands the challenges of moving to the cloud, like governance, compliance, security, scalability — the things that IT is very good at.

Aaron Chappell: Okay, and I want to shift the conversation a little, and ask about the future of hybrid. How does hybrid fit into the overall strategy for the JDE product?

Gary Grieshaber: Our strategy is ‘hybrid by design,’ to give our customers choice and control. That really sums up our go-forward strategy. What does that mean? It means basically that if a customer chooses to run JD Edwards in the Oracle cloud infrastructure layer — that’s an option we want to make available. If they choose to run JD Edwards in the Oracle cloud and then switch to the Oracle database as a service, that’s a choice for them as well.

Or, if they have other business challenges, for example mobilizing their workforce, they can do that as well in a hybrid cloud, because we’ve built a solution that can leverage cloud services for mobility. You can leverage this service in the cloud combined with your JD Edwards, whether it’s running on-premise or in the cloud — another hybrid cloud scenario.

blank-sheetSo again, we’re moving up the stack, and we’re building capabilities into the product to make that as easy as possible so that customers can choose what makes the most sense for their business based upon where they are today.

I’ll just say again all customers are not starting with a blank sheet of paper; they all have a different starting point. One example might be a customer that is running a fairly recent version of JD Edwards on-premise, but their data center infrastructure is aging. They’re going to need to make a decision: Do they update their data center — a big capital expense — or do they see this as an opportunity (and the best business decision) to move out of their data center and run JD Edwards in the public cloud. To support our customers, our product development roadmap supports hybrid cloud.

Aaron Chappell: We’re hearing a lot about postmodern ERP. Do you see the hybrid cloud as being the next evolution of JD Edwards, basically a series of bolt-on functionality that runs in the Oracle cloud that essentially becomes a best-of-breed postmodern ERP approach for JD Edwards?

Gary Grieshaber: I think hybrid cloud for JD Edwards is one strategy customers are pursuing to achieve that end goal but again doing so with a measured approach… whatever makes sense for their business.

We can accomplish simplicity and low TCO with an integrated set of applications that are designed to work together so that your business processes — order to cash, procure to pay — are all integrated. We deliver these integrated processes out of the box. These processes can be improved by integrating with “best of breed” cloud solutions.

The challenge of moving to a postmodern ERP system can be that you end up with something like islands of automation. You have many, many systems that are part of a business process and you need to make sure you manage the integration of the data and the security across these systems, which can be a costly and complicated scenario. That’s a key consideration for moving to that model.

Evaluate JD Edwards and your business processes and the ones that are integrated into JD Edwards and are working efficiently, maintain them, and then add value with the hybrid cloud solution where it makes sense.

This is the fifth piece in a 6-part series on JD Edwards in the cloud. Read the rest: