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SAP's platform-as-a-service offering -- SAP HANA Cloud Platform -- gives customers and system integrators the ability to build applications that extend the functionality of on-premises and cloud applications. While there has been much discussion around extending SAP's cloud applications with HCP, there has been less discussion of extending SAP's on-premises applications. The plethora of on-premises development tools and the vendor's focus on the cloud may have somewhat inadvertently diverted attention away from the value of using SAP HCP to extend SAP on-premises applications.
SAP HCP is a central component of SAP's cloud strategy. It enables users to extend their cloud and on-premises applications and enables on-premises customers who are not yet using the cloud to dip their toe into the water and begin building a hybrid application landscape. It also provides mobile application development capabilities for organizations that still may not have adopted mobile applications for their workforce. Additionally, the entire platform sits in the cloud and therefore provides the usual lower total cost of ownership benefits that organizations get from adopting cloud technology.
The main reason to use SAP HCP to extend your existing on-premises systems is that it enables you to build full-scale applications that can use data from SAP and other systems with a user-friendly interface without the constraints of the ABAP framework. SAP HCP introduces common application development standards for extensions and enables a variety of programming languages to be used to build applications. SAP also provides the SAP HANA Cloud Platform, cloud connector -- previously called SAP HANA Cloud Connector -- to connect HCP with on-premises systems -- both SAP and non-SAP.
The SAP HANA App Center -- called the SAP HANA Marketplace until April 2015 -- is where users can browse and purchase HANA Cloud Platform applications. Customers, partners and application developers can have their applications certified and placed onto the SAP HANA App Center for others to buy. There are also two different app stores, both called SAP Store. This means that customers can browse for applications that might solve their use case, but they could also potentially sell the applications they had built. In some situations, the applications that customers have built themselves might provide a competitive advantage, and so there will be no benefit to selling them in the SAP HANA App Center.
Better user experience, hybrid cloud support are major benefits
The combination of these SAP HCP features and benefits means that SAP customers, partners and application developers can build web-based applications that are easy to use; easily accessible, through a web browser as opposed to the SAP graphical user interface; and can provide almost limitless functionality, thanks to the use of Java or another Java Runtime Engine-supported programming language to write applications. The most compelling use cases are those that either enhance the user experience or provide rich functionality that just wouldn't be possible if the application were built on the on-premises system. Additionally, security and authentication, database, integration services, and monitoring are part of the platform, so full, end-to-end application management can be handled from the SAP HCP Cockpit.
When looking at specific uses, it is worth remembering that the nature of HCP means that uses for on-premises can cross over to cloud and vice versa. This means there can be a common, unified platform to access data from multiple platforms in a single application in an intuitive user interface. For the casual user, working in a more simple application instead of having to consult manuals or colleagues -- as can be the case with SAP HCM, for example -- enables better adoption and increased efficiency.
Enterprise Alumni shows HCP's cloud, mobile reach
Let's take a look at an example. Enterprise Jungle's Enterprise Alumni application was built on SAP HCP and can be used with SAP ERP HCM, SAP SuccessFactors, SAP Jam, Microsoft SharePoint, Oracle and other platforms. Since the application is designed to enable organizations to manage their alumni community, it needs to be easily accessible via the web and mobile for both current and former employees. Additionally, the platform enables management of the platform, security and integration connections, so that Enterprise Jungle can focus purely on the application and its continuous innovation. This is a case where building on SAP HCP provides tangible benefits versus customizing or building within an on-premises system.
In essence, building new applications -- complex or otherwise -- using known standards and with an attractive user interface enables organizations to extend their enterprise software landscape and introduce new or enhanced processes in a way that enables them to better address their ongoing business needs. Superior usability and user experiences help to increase adoption of new applications and processes. SAP HCP can enable custom applications that foster those traits with a look and feel that suits the modern user interface.
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