Domino Sugar Moves SAP and Much More to Cloud

Think big league CIOs aren't ready to put SAP in the public cloud? Domino Sugar just did, along with most other enterprise systems, with an eye toward big savings.

By Kevin Fogarty
Mon, October 18, 2010

CIO — Most of today's CIOs like to keep the company's most critical data and applications close, inside the biggest data center, where IT can see or touch the servers involved.

Domino Sugar CIO Don Whittington wants to get rid of as much hardware as he can, keep the software and data in a nice home where they're safe, and visit as often as he wants.

In a decade as CIO (and now also VP of Domino parent company Florida Crystal Corp.,) Whittington has shifted the company from traditional on-premise data-center ownership through several stages of outsourcing and abstraction: These included co-location deals, data center hosting services and finally an application service provider contract.

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The latest stage is what Whittington and service provider Virtustream call the largest SAP implementation ever built on a public (multitenant) cloud-computing system. During the course of an 18-month development and migration cycle, Domino shifted its SAP system and almost all of its other enterprise systems, including e-mail, fax servers, business intelligence, EDI and other application servers, from hosted or ASP arrangements into Virtustream's cloud.

One Mantra: Pay Only For What You Use

Security and performance requirements are part of the contract, and Domino pays only for the computing power that it uses. If that usage stays within historical parameters, the cost to Domino should be 20 to 25 percent lower than the previous ASP model, Whittington says.

The biggest part of that savings is liberation from the need to commit to specific hardware requirements for a specific time.

"Even under an ASP model, I was constrained by technology," Whittington says. "When I needed to add capacity or storage, it would take a three-year commitment from us, and then it had to be provisioned and racked and stacked and managed. I didn't own that hardware, but I had to be aware of the capacity planning and restrained by it."

Freedom from physical capacity planning is a huge difference in cost for end-user companies, but is only really possible in public, multitenant cloud systems on which the service provider can run as many customers as necessary to raise utilization and make operation efficient, according to Sean Hackett, research director for The 451 Group.

That's the big reason for maintaining a clear definition between public and private clouds—the key differentiator of which is the question of whether virtual machines or workloads from more than one customer run on the same physical server, Hackett says.

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