At SAP SAPPHIRE NOW being held in Orlando, Florida, SAP and HP have announced that SAP S/4HANA will be deployed on the HP Helion Managed Cloud.
HP has also been awarded premier strategic partner status when it comes to delivering cloud infrastructure services for business-critical SAP applications in SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud. Coming a day after IBM announced it was planning to disrupt the x86-based SAP HANA market with two new Power Systems, this is good news for HP and for SAP customers.
First it shows that SAP is committed to as many platforms as possible which means that SAP customers will have choice of where to go when looking for cloud services. Secondly it means that HP has managed to beat off competition from other cloud providers to be a S/4HANA launch partner.
SAP and HP building on a long history
This announcement builds on a long history between SAP and HP going back over 25 years. In June last year, HP released the ConvergedSystem 900 for SAP HANA, a product that had taken a year from announcement to delivery. Since then, HP has focused on delivering SAP HANA inside its Helion Managed Cloud.
In the press release Michael Kleinemeier, member of the Global Managing Board of SAP SE is quoted as saying: “We are thrilled to be deepening our partnership with HP to deliver this unique offering. Today’s announcement combines HP’s implementation, migration and mission critical infrastructure expertise with SAP’s real-time applications and services, and will further enhance demand for SAP S/4HANA. It’s what the market is seeking, as businesses all over the world strive to Run Simple in a digital economy”
SAP betting the future on S/4HANA
S/4HANA was only announced in February 2015 with SAP hailing it the “biggest innovation since SAP R/3”. Setting aside the hyperbole, it is certainly the biggest overhaul of the SAP product line in several years and is intended to appeal to an audience that has been increasingly looking elsewhere as new born on the cloud alternatives to SAP begin to mature.
A key goal for SAP is to take advantage of their latest marketing slogan Run Simple. As part of this announcement with HP, SAP is offering customers the option of taking advantage of both HP and its own professional services teams although it is not clear where the lines between the two professional services teams will be drawn.
One way that this could work is with HP delivering the infrastructure skills to enable customers to create a hybrid cloud using both the S/4HANA on-premise and cloud editions. This would certainly play to HP’s strengths and help to resolve the complexity of creating a hybrid solution.
SAP targeting multiple business scenarios
The S/4HANA cloud edition will ship with three business scenarios to begin with:
- SAP S/4HANA, cloud marketing edition – for the marketing line of business
- SAP S/4HANA, cloud project services edition – for the professional services industry
- SAP S/4HANA, cloud enterprise edition – for a full ERP scope
This move to multiple cloud editions is in line with the new companies such as Infor and NetSuite who are snapping at SAP’s heels. They have discovered that customers want the ability to deploy a more focused cloud solution based on departmental demands rather than an all encompassing solution that is time consuming and expensive to configure.
SAP has also made it clear that it intends to offer new options for S/4HANA every quarter. While it has not explicitly said this will mean new versions every quarter, several industry analysts believe that this is exactly what will happen. This is very good news for customers and for SAP’s cloud partners such as HP as it will mean a constant stream of marketing funds and a better focus on what is important to the customer.
Impact on SAP partner universe as yet unclear
One group who are not yet sure what this will mean to them are the third party developers who have invested a lot of money plugging the gaps that SAP has previously left. While some of these partners have already begun to move their components and integrations to the cloud, many have yet to start that work.
There is another challenge here for these partners. There will be pressure on them to redesign their software to act as cloud services which can be resold by SAP’s cloud partners. This means that SAP will have to consider how much it is prepared to invest in these partners in order to make this happen quickly with many of the smaller partners likely to need help understanding how cloud services changes their business model.