SAP Aims to Become More Flexible in the Cloud

Mike Vizard
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2016 Software Trends: The Evolution of Enterprise Software

At the Sapphire NOW 2016 conference today, SAP revealed that it has broadened its alliance with Microsoft as well as added new hybrid data management services and graph database capabilities to the SAP in-memory computing platform. But perhaps more importantly, SAP also made it clear today that it plans to be a lot more flexible concerning how SAP HANA actually gets deployed in the cloud.

Instead of requiring them to stay current on every version of SAP HANA in the cloud, SAP will now give customers the option of maintaining their SAP HANA environment for up to three years. This is in contrast to the current terms of SAP cloud licensing terms, which require upgrades every six months. That’s critical for IT organizations making use of HANA in different application scenarios. For example, the typical financial application doesn’t need to be upgraded multiple times a year.

SAP also announced that it will validate instances of SAP HANA running on the Microsoft Azure cloud. SAP S/4 software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications are hosted on the IBM SoftLayer cloud. But SAP also gives IT organizations the option to host SAP HANA on multiple other clouds. The two companies will work closely to also integrate Microsoft Office 365 with SAP cloud applications while also integrating SAP mobile applications with Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite.

As part of an effort to make those hybrid cloud computing environments more cohesive, SAP announced an invitation-only beta program for a hybrid data management service delivered via the cloud. The first service available is the SAP HANA capture and replay capability that can be used to allow IT organizations to leverage the cloud to better support an on-premise SAP environment.

Finally, SAP released an advanced version of SAP HANA, Edge Edition that provides access to a core 32 GB database and 128 GB of tiered storage. This new offering comes packaged with SAP Predictive Analytics software. Dell has become one of the first OEM partners to resell the offering bundled with server hardware.

Speaking at Sapphire NOW, SAP CEO Bill McDermott says that, in the wake of a listening tour with customers, SAP is trying to be more empathetic to customer requirements and business use cases for SAP HANA. To put additional teeth behind that promise, SAP also committed to a new SAP Value Assurance program through which customers will gain more insight into the SAP product roadmap as well as validation of SAP implementations performed by a select number of third-party global systems integrators.

Clearly, the message being delivered to SAP is that IT organizations want more control over not only the SAP application experience, but also how and where those applications get deployed. The question now is to what degree other cloud application service providers might soon be forced to follow suit.

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