SAP today launched a series of cloud services, including its core HANA in-memory database, that can be deployed on multiple public clouds.
Announced at the SAP Sapphire NOW 2019 conference, SAP HANA Cloud Services will initially be made available on Amazon Web Services (AWS). In addition to a HANA database-as-a-service, SAP announced SAP Data Warehouse Cloud service, available in beta, that is built on top of the SAP HANA database.
In the future, SAP also committed to making SAP Analytics Cloud, SAP Data Intelligence platform for building artificial intelligence (AI) models using machine and deep learning algorithms, SAP Intelligent Robotic Process Automation (RPA) services for building bots to automate processes, and SAP Leonardo portfolio of Internet of Things (IoT) tools and services, available on public clouds.
By making this move, SAP is acknowledging that it won’t be able make infrastructure services available as efficiently as AWS, Microsoft and Google. SAP will continue to provide managed HANA services on a hosted private cloud when customers request it, but most of its focus going forward will be on multi-tenant cloud computing environments.
In fact, SAP chairman Hasso Plattner told conference attendees that SAP will be delivering all HANA updates on public clouds first before making those capabilities available for on-premises instances of HANA. Plattner also notes that versions of SAP software will always be up to date versus on-premises editions that are not only many release cycles behind, but often have not, in some cases, been patched in several years. Couple that capability with the economics of public clouds, and Plattner says public clouds are now clearly the superior option.
By making SAP HANA available as a database-as-a-service offering, SAP is trying to extend the reach of its database well beyond its own applications.
“HANA is too good a database to lock it away in SAP ERP applications,” says Plattner. “It is not for SAP only.”
One of the first independent software vendors (ISVs) to embrace SAP HANA Cloud Services is OpenText, a provider of document management software.
SAP contends that HANA is unique in that it can process any type of data in memory running on parallel processors at scale in a scale out fashion. That capability is further being advanced by the arrival of second-generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors and Intel Optane DC memory that enable 36TB of data to be persistently accessed in memory. It also makes it possible for more developers to affordably create applications where transactions and analytics are processed together in memory versus relying on legacy batch mode processes or creating a data lake that runs in memory.
Making HANA available as a database-as-a-service offering shifts responsibility for managing the database to SAP, which in theory frees organizations to reallocate internal IT resources toward developing more applications. Whether that shift will eliminate the need for database administrators (DBAs) is unclear, but it is certain the role of the DBA will dramatically change.
Of course, SAP is not the only provider of a database that is now available as a cloud service. The real challenge facing SAP now will be convincing application developers that SAP HANA databases provide enough additional capabilities to bypass a plethora of open source databases that are also available on the same public clouds as HANA.