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HP introduces SAP upgrade and management services

HP is expanding its SAP upgrade and SAP installation management services program, seeking to capitalize on a growing need for SAP skills.

HP today expanded its services for customers seeking to cut SAP upgrade and management costs.

An increasing number of NetWeaver upgrades and a shortage of SAP resources have sparked interest in services to help manage SAP implementations at Palo Alto, Calif.-based Hewlett Packard Co. (HP), according to Rajesh Radhakrishnan, vice president of HP Consulting & Integration's Applications Practice.

The new and expanded offerings include HP Upgrade Services 6.0, HP Upgrade Factory for SAP Applications, and HP Application Outsourcing for SAP and follow HP's move earlier this year expanding its services operations for SAP customers seeking to take advantage of eSOA (enterprise service-oriented architecture). The latest services focus on modernizing and managing customers' SAP environment, according to Radhakrishnan.

"If you look at the market today from an SAP perspective, there's a tremendous amount of change happening," he said. "SAP's got about 40,000 customers, and almost three-fourths of them are on older versions of SAP."

HP Upgrade Services 6.0 will help SAP customers upgrade to SAP ERP 6.0 and SAP NetWeaver technologies and help customers get started with eSOA. Other additions include new configurations for SAP on HP Integrity servers, data certification for the HP Neoview enterprise data warehouse platform, and major ISO standards, according to an HP press release.

Radhakrishnan broke SAP upgrades into three categories -- technical, functional and strategic. Technical involves just upgrading the SAP technology, functional takes it a step further to take advantage of new features, and strategic involves upgrading other aspects of the business, including business processes, he said.

HP's Upgrade Factory for SAP aims to speed the technical and functional upgrade process for SAP customers. Technical and functional upgrades can be done in this "factory" manner -- relatively quickly and at low cost -- because they require less customization and process work than strategic upgrades, according to Radhakrishnan.

HP Application Outsourcing for SAP lets customers outsource SAP application management to HP, helping to stabilize costs. The ERP Outsourcing Factory for SAP, currently offered in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, is aimed at smaller enterprises and offers SAP applications hosted by HP, according to Pat Adamiak, vice president of portfolio marketing and alliances for HP's Outsourcing Services.

"Customers are faced with a situation where they're trying to lower the overall cost of maintenance of SAP," Radhakrishnan said. "If they didn't implement their processes or infrastructure correctly with SAP, then right now their cost of ownership and managing SAP is very high."

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For SAP customers evaluating their upgrade and outsourcing staffing options, HP's new services are worth considering, according to Jon Reed, career expert and president of

"From the SAP customer vantage point, anything that can accelerate or automate the upgrade process, minimize costs, and/or decrease the [number] of consultants needed to staff such a project is always worth considering," Reed said. "Having more sophisticated outsourcing and application hosting options to consider is also appealing to most SAP users."

These services are available now, with pricing depending on the individual customer.

"The pricing strategy on the outsourcing side tends to be custom, based on the client," Adamiak said. "Typically, there is a cost savings versus the 'today' environment, and typically there is negotiated productivity savings over time -- as we get greater efficiency, some of that gets passed back to the client."

A growing trend

HP isn't the only company ramping up its SAP services, according to John Madden, research director for Boston-based Ovum Summit, who also cited the SAP skills shortage and the large number of SAP upgrade projects as drivers.

"HP Services, like other vendors, services firms and SIs [systems integrators], is ramping up and marketing its SAP capabilities as much as possible," Madden said. "In fact, services firms and outsourcers are tripping over themselves to show which one has the best SAP capabilities."

HP's relationship with SAP, and its history with infrastructure, systems and management software, should make HP's services intriguing for SAP customers, according to Madden. And having more options is always a good thing.

"For customers, this is ultimately a good thing because it delivers choice and puts more expertise into the market," Madden said. "SAP skills are pretty hard to come by these days for many IT customers."

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