Google is angling for its Cloud Platform to be SAP customers' cloud hyperscaler of choice for S/4HANA implementations.
SAP and Google have deepened their partnership as part of Rise with SAP, the company's latest push to spur on S/4HANA migrations, and more SAP customers are seeing the value of the entire Google landscape of technologies that they can integrate with SAP applications.
Adding Google Cloud Platform (GCP) to the mix is an evolution of the public cloud hyperscaler market for SAP customers, which was once dominated by Microsoft Azure and AWS. SAP has quietly retired the preferred public cloud infrastructure provider status for Azure that was part of SAP Embrace, the company's previous initiative to move customers to the cloud.
SAP's push that Rise with SAP be cloud agnostic means that customers will have better options, including GCP, as they push to modernize their businesses, according to observers.
Customer momentum to GCP
Marketing momentum for the newly-defined SAP and GCP relationship includes a slew of new customers such as battery maker Energizer Holdings, which is using Rise with SAP to implement S/4HANA for finance on GCP; metalworking distribution company MSC Industrial Supply, which is migrating its SAP landscape to S/4HANA Cloud private edition on GCP; and global automotive supply chain and distribution firm Inchcape, which is migrating its SAP ECC systems to GCP using Rise with SAP.
Companies that have selected GCP to provide the cloud infrastructure as part of Rise with SAP to host applications are looking both at the flexibility that Rise provides and the technologies that come with Google, said Snehanshu Shah, Google managing director for SAP solution engineering.
"They want some of the infrastructure capabilities that Google provides, but they're also looking at leveraging some of the Google AI and ML capabilities along with SAP solutions like [SAP Data Warehouse Cloud]," Shah said.
Mark DearnleyCIO, Inchcape
Customers moving to GCP can choose Rise if they want a more SaaS-like deployment model, but some are moving to the cloud without Rise, he said. These tend to be customers with very large SAP landscapes and may already have migrated to S/4HANA, so they take a more direct lift-and-shift approach to the cloud, often using a systems integrator (SI), Shah said.
Inchcape, a global automotive distributor for Toyota, BMW Daimler, Jaguar Land Rover and Suzuki, chose GCP for its Rise with SAP project because of the analytics capabilities Google has available, according to Mark Dearnley, CIO at the London-based firm.
"We talked to all of the main cloud providers and decided that with where we are, and with the types of things we want to be able to do, Google was the best Rise partner to work with," Dearnley said. "That links to our obsession around data and analytics, and the ability to not only be able to run SAP on the GCP, but also be able to easily integrate it into much of the work they've been doing around analytics."
Google's API management platform Apigee is another plus for GCP, he said.
"We're also interested in what they've been doing with Apigee to make it easier to put the integration into and out of SAP so that we can leverage more of it more easily to create a better customer experience," Dearnley said.
Google has advanced its enterprise credibility
GCP was not in the conversation as an enterprise scale public cloud infrastructure provider for SAP a few years ago, but this has changed, said Tom Galizia, principal at Deloitte and chief commercial officer for its Alphabet Google practice.
"With the Embrace winding down, we've gone from an exclusive, preferred and strongly encouraged relationship to a situation where everything is a jump ball," Galizia said. "Everything has its time and place -- and Azure had its time and place to be exclusive -- but now the market is more established, so why should you be limited to one when all three have advantages?"
Galizia said GCP's biggest advantage comes down to the security and the global scope of Google's network, but it also encompasses Google's extensive array of technologies and products.
"Alphabet Google is the largest service provider on the planet, and they have more connected last-mile tissue than the others who rely on service providers and local telcos to make that final connection, which creates new vulnerabilities with every handoff," he said.
More hyperscalers means better competition
SAP's move away from Azure as its preferred cloud infrastructure provider enables better competition between the cloud providers and therefore better options for Rise with SAP customers, said Predrag Jakovljevic, principal industry analyst at Technology Evaluation Centers.
"It was smart for SAP to brand this as a customer choice and for stripping Azure off the preferred solution," Jakovljevic said. "There is certainly lots of work for all cloud providers and hyperscalers, and Google is much less a potential competitor to SAP than Microsoft could be."
GCP has enhanced its enterprise credibility in its executive ranks, as CEO Thomas Kurian is a former Oracle executive, and president of cloud sales Robert Enslin is a former SAP executive, Jakovljevic noted. The former enterprise giant executives know what CIOs of global companies need and have improved GCP's commercial terms not only in price, but in more locations, compliance and data sovereignty.
"Also, retailers and commerce companies like Google search, YouTube, AI and analytics, so bundling all of the other services makes a pretty bow on the cloud package," Jakovljevic said. "A lot of people hate paying for full Office licenses and would like to move spend from Microsoft."
However, GCP is not necessarily the answer to everyone's cloud needs for SAP applications, according to Jakovljevic.
"Like all things Google, there is more of a DIY aspect to GCP, and it's on the customer or partner to monitor, tweak, control and refresh because GCP is pretty bare-bones," he said. "Azure's partnering community and tools are a little more formal and a little more professional than AWS's and certainly Google's."
Even though it no longer has preferred vendor status from SAP, Microsoft Azure is still in the picture, he explained.
"[Microsoft] is still actively selling SAP on Azure and keeps developing new features for SAP on Azure and the Power Platform," Jakovljevic said. "I would not write off Azure that easily, and the competition and choice should be good for customers."
Jim O'Donnell is a TechTarget news writer who covers ERP and other enterprise applications for SearchSAP and SearchERP.