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SAP customers who want to run their systems in a cloud environment have been limited to either private cloud in SAP data centers or public cloud hyperscalers.
However, a new partnership between SAP and Hewlett Packard Enterprise will now provide a SaaS-like deployment option for full SAP systems on HPE GreenLake. The new offering is called SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud, customer edition.
HPE GreenLake delivers complete pre-configured software systems as a service to a customer's data center. HPE manages the systems throughout their lifecycle and customers pay for the service in a monthly subscription.
The combination of SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud, SAP's private managed cloud service, and HPE GreenLake allows SAP customers to keep their SAP software stack and data on premises while taking advantage of a predictable, subscription-based cloud environment, said Peter Pluim, SAP's global head of enterprise cloud.
"We contract HPE GreenLake for the customer and basically buy the service from HPE," Pluim said. "They install it within a cage in the customer's data center. And we apply our services and software and the customer pays a monthly fee just as they would if it ran as a SaaS on a hyperscaler."
Data sovereignty a current issue
The partnership helps customers who need strict control over the location of their data, which is an issue that has become more complex with the COVID-19 pandemic, Pluim said.
Peter PluimGlobal head of enterprise cloud, SAP
"In the COVID world there are more needs now around data sovereignty, as well as regulatory requirements around data locations," he said. "This requires customers to have much more control over where it is."
The HPE GreenLake option is also ideal for customers who want to move to S/4HANA in a SaaS environment, but find that S/4HANA Cloud is limited in functionality and doesn't support customizations from SAP ECC environments.
"This takes care of that huge issue that customers have with so many moving parts, and now we can deploy this -- and customers at their own pace with their own partners can move from ECC to S/4HANA," Pluim said. "It's good, especially if they have data sovereignty issues, or maybe they have made huge investments in data centers that they don't want to give up but they are reaching a hardware refresh cycle."
The partnership came about because customers have been requesting a simplified cloud experience, said Keith White, HPE senior vice president and general manager of HPE GreenLake.
"The nice thing about this is you get the 'one plus one equals three' experience with HPE hardware infrastructure and HPE GreenLake's as-a-service capability together with SAP systems," White said. "Customers get that seamless experience, so they can then go analyze the data and get good information from the data and do all of the things that they want to in order to run their business more effectively."
Customers want clarity
SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud, customer edition provides SAP with an option that its main competitor Oracle has offered since 2016 with Oracle Cloud@Customer, said Liz Herbert, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research. Oracle Cloud@Customer is Oracle's managed private cloud service that enables customers to run Oracle Cloud Infrastructure public cloud services and Oracle Fusion SaaS applications in their data centers.
"That said, SAP is already supporting a very wide range of options for customers -- on-premises, various hosting and private cloud options, various public cloud options -- both directly and through partners like IBM and NTT," Herbert said. "They have had significant choice largely because they are very partner-friendly when it comes to cloud hosting and infrastructure, and this partnership with HPE GreenLake expands those existing choices."
However, rather than focusing on the range of infrastructure choices, SAP customers tend to want help cutting through the complexity, asking for better comparisons and more clarity on the differences between those choices, she said. SAP customers are also more interested in making a case for an S/4HANA migration rather than drilling down into the particulars of the infrastructure.
"[SAP customers] are confused and overwhelmed by having too many choices," she said. "Furthermore, many of the customers we work with are still asking about the business case for S/4HANA and when or whether to make the move. Infrastructure and cloud choice are not the biggest issues they are dealing with because they are still struggling more fundamentally with what their future ERP environment should look like from a vendor and applications perspective."