CenturyLink deal boosts options for SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud

Read here how CenturyLink hosted services can bring more HANA to the enterprise and how AribaPay is now extended to Europe and Latin America.

CenturyLink and SAP have entered a partnership to provide managed infrastructure and other services for SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud. The services are run by CenturyLink Cognilytics, an IT services firm that CenturyLink acquired in 2014.

CenturyLink's infrastructure and IT services offerings can expand the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud market and help customers implement SAP HANA platform projects faster, according to Avi Gupta, CenturyLink Cognilytics' vice president of sales and marketing.

SAP wants to become a cloud company and introduced SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud to drive more customers to HANA, Gupta said, but hosting and infrastructure management are not in their core competency. CenturyLink Coglinytics provides the infrastructure and SAP can surround that with managed services. "It's kind of the best of both worlds; they're leveraging their partners' infrastructure and putting some managed services around it," he said. "From a risk mitigation scene it's a very appealing proposition for customers."

Gupta said that CenturyLink Coglinytics' global network and more than 55 data centers offer HANA customers any kind of managed or hosted environment that they need, from running the entire environment to hosting short-term pilot projects. "As a telecommunications company we own the network and the data centers, so the whole network connectivity across the data centers means that we can provide some of the additional capabilities," he explained. "But we are also willing to invest in the project environment -- short term, month-to-month, not as much revenue -- just to get the clients going. It means a lot of work and a lot of investment on our side, but it's helpful for SAP because then they can on board customers easier."

CenturyLink's global network can support a variety of SAP HANA services, including cloud-based development and test environments, large-scale production environments, and metro-specific disaster recovery services.

Gupta said that CenturyLink Cognilytics has a 20-year history of working with SAP in big data predictive decision sciences and other core IT services such as application development management, quality assurance and testing, remote infrastructure management and security services.

AribaPay extended through First Data partnership

SAP Ariba and First Data are combining to offer the AribaPay system for B2B payments through the Ariba Network to Europe and Latin America. The partnership expands the reach of AribaPay, which has been available in North America in partnership with Discover Financial Services since 2013.

AribaPay brings consumer-like simplicity and security to B2B payments but also allows companies to take advantage of the information sharing and insights offered by the Ariba Network, according to Drew Hofler, SAP Ariba senior director of marketing. First Data handles the digital payment part of a transaction while the Ariba Network supplies information with the payment that's not possible with traditional electronic payment systems.

This allows companies to exchange purchase orders, invoices and payments in a fast, secure environment; lower processing costs; reduce fraud risk; and track and trace transactions through the system.

"In B2B payment, there are two pieces that are actually critical: the movement of money and the information that comes with it," Hofler said. "We each provide a piece of that and together we believe there's a true B2B payment solution that delivers both parts of what B2B needs."

This combination of payment and data is what makes AribaPay compelling for businesses, Hofler explained. Consumer payment has seen many innovations over the past few years, but the transaction remains a relatively simple one. B2B transactions are much more complicated because the settlement often does not occur until weeks or months after the transaction and the payment from the buyer to the supplier is often a large amount for many separate invoices.

"There's a ton of information associated with those invoices. Each one of them you can think of as [being] like a shopping cart, and there's a serious disconnect between that information and when the funds settle," Hofler said. Previously there has been a limitation on the amount of information that accompanies the payments in the two predominant electronic payment systems -- ACH in North America has an 80-character limit, and SEPA in Europe has a 140-character limit.

"Now we're living in a different era and the Ariba Network exists to connect buyers and suppliers together to exchange information around commerce, so we have hundreds of terabytes of information being delivered daily on a real-time basis between buyers and suppliers," Hofler said. "All of the information around a payment that needs to be made to a supplier, such as the [purchase order] that came before it, the invoices that are associated with it, or any adjustments that are made to that invoice, is in the Ariba Network. Prior to AribaPay, the buyers and suppliers on the network would have to use ACH or SEPA and extract 80 or 140 characters of that terabyte of information and deliver it with the payment."

AribaPay allows suppliers and buyers to see exactly where a payment is throughout the entire transaction process, Hofler said. This includes the moment the invoice is scheduled to be paid, the moment the payment begins, when AribaPay receives it, when AribaPay sends it to their processing partners (Discover or First Data), when it's debited from the buyers account and when it settles in the suppliers account.

AribaPay has generated more than $40 billion in payments to date, and the Ariba Network has seen about $1 trillion in commerce according to the company.

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