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SAP HANA Cloud Platform aims to make moving to the cloud easier

SAP hopes to increase adoption of SAP HANA Cloud Platform with enhancements that include virtual machines, Ariba gateway, APIs and microservices.

SAP is intent on increasing adoption of SAP HANA Cloud Platform as the PaaS of choice for enterprises. To reinforce this, SAP has added a slew of new features and integrations to HCP.

The new enhancements were unveiled at SAP's Tech Ed conference, held Nov. 7-11 in Barcelona, Spain.

The enhancements are made to attract SAP and non-SAP users, according to Dan Lahl, the vendor's vice president of product marketing.

"The big idea is, really, we're making a robust enterprise platform as a service (PaaS) for SAP customers and, we hope, non-SAP customers," Lahl said. "But we're starting with SAP customers to be able to use our PaaS to be able to do any work that they want for cloud innovation in their enterprise."

This approach takes three main forms in the SAP HANA Cloud Platform enhancements: support for virtual machines, the Ariba Cloud Integration Gateway and the SAP API Business Hub.

Easing the move to the cloud

As we expose more and more SAP APIs, we believe we'll be able to get an ecosystem coming out of the API Business Hub over time.
Dan Lahlvice president of product marketing, SAP

The SAP HANA Cloud Platform virtual machine is designed to help users get their applications in the cloud and is aimed more at SAP users who are running applications on premises but may have related non-SAP applications running alongside. They can load the non-SAP application into the virtual machine container and run it on HCP, Lahl said.

"Let's say there's a customer who has a portal application for doing e-commerce or collaboration among their employees, and they have a companion application like a supply chain app or a CRM app that they've built themselves," he said "They can actually put that in the virtual machine and have that very close to the cloud application that they're running on HCP for performance or simplicity, and if they decide to take that off of their own data center and put it up in our cloud, we'll manage the container for them although we won't manage the app."

The Ariba Cloud Integration Gateway has prebuilt cloud integrations that plug SAP HANA Cloud Platform into the Ariba Network, which connects about 2 million customers and suppliers globally.

Ariba Network opens up opportunity

"There are a number of partners that want to take advantage of the Ariba Network, so we see a great opportunity for either Ariba customers to extend their own ecosystem off of Ariba, or partners that are going to build apps that will extend off of Ariba," Lahl said. "We're supplying some API integration into the Ariba Network, which it hasn't had before. It's been a bit of a closed system, but now we're opening that up so that customers who have a big footprint there can get more suppliers, or suppliers can get more customers on it."

The SAP API Business Hub is a cloud-based catalog of SAP application APIs, intended to allow users to easily build or test new applications or functions for applications. New APIs in the catalog include S/4HANA Finance, S/4HANA Marketing Cloud, Hybris Product Content Management and SAP Vehicles Network. The API Hub Network is open to any partner or customer to use the APIs to extend SAP systems, connect applications or build new apps, according to Lahl.

"The API Business Hub was announced in May as a catalog for APIs and we're now populating that catalog with literally hundreds that our customers can go look at and consume," Lahl said. "They can actually create sandboxes in the business hub to connect to their existing systems or spin out their existing systems to test those APIs before they decide to consume them. We see that this is going to become more strategic over time. As we expose more and more SAP APIs, we believe we'll be able to get an ecosystem coming out of the API Business Hub over time."

At your services

SAP HANA Cloud Platform also includes new microservices that companies can use to develop or extend specific applications: workflow services, business rules, data quality and predictive services.

The workflow microservice allows business analysts, as well as developers, to create apps, according to Lahl. "It's a graphical connection service for connecting different business processes or different functions together to quickly cobble together a business process from other business processes," he said. "It's kind of a composer for different business functions and processes, and, again, that can be used by a business analyst in a graphical form to do that."

The data quality and business rules microservices also give the capability for business analysts to do data quality work inside of their work. "If you're a business analyst and have a data set that you want to look at, it actually gives you some quality metrics that they can set up for getting the right addresses, the right zip codes, the right names and so on," Lahl said. "It's the same thing with the smart business services; you can set up your own [key performance indicators] so you can track and monitor the different KPIs that you have as a business analyst."

The predictive services deliver predictive insights to applications running on SAP HANA Cloud Platform, meaning that data scientists don't need to build models from scratch. However, they can be used by business analysts as well as data scientists, Lahl said.

"Let's say you have a data set and want to figure out which are the columns or fields in this data set that are critical," he said. "It will tell you what the critical fields are and if you have enough data in that to get a predictive result. It bypasses all the complexity of what you normally have in data science and gives you a really quick and dirty way to use predictive services for building algorithms."

All of these services are available on SAP HANA Cloud Platform and are available on a trial basis if you have a trial license, Lahl said.

"Then you can either purchase them … service by service, consumable on a subscription basis, or we have packages, as well, that we put together for a business analyst, for example," he said. "There are a number of different ways to be able to consume them, and our goal is to allow customers to try them out before they go on subscription with them."

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