"Forget HANA. Forget cloud. Let's talk platform!"
There... I said it ... in public! Guess that leaves me only a couple of minutes until they came and get me!
Jokes aside - with today's blog post I want to address some of the misconceptions floating around in regards to the SAP HANA Cloud Platform (HCP)! Many a times I've been hearing from people that SAP HANA Cloud Platform is not of interest for them because
a) they don't use HANA (yet) and/or
b) cloud is not a topic in their companies (yet)
Call me biased, but nothing could be further from the truth! As such, I'd like to talk about the last part of the name - platform.
Platform [definition] - a horizontal surface or structure with a horizontal surface raised above the level of the surrounding area. - Reference: dictionary.com
In simple terms, one could say that a platform is an elevated area compared to your current position - "the next level" if you will. Furthermore, it's a stable, reliable and future-proof foundation to build on. So, one is truly well-advised to look beyond the HANA and cloud part of the name and have a closer look at the the platform aspect!
From a technical perspective one could truly state that HCP is the successor of NetWeaver. While they have completely distinct code-lines and upbringings they share a common mindset; only this time SAP develops & operates the platform for you. This implies a shift of responsibilities very favorable for customers, as now it's SAP that takes a lot of the heavy lifting while customers can exclusively concentrate on developing apps( and not having to worry of operating the underlying platform).That's the whole promise of Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and in non-technical terms it translates to business agility.
In today's economy, everyone is competing on a global level and the speed of innovation is constantly accelerating. To gain or keep an competitive advantage companies need to be able to roll-out innovations quickly: time-to-market is critical. At the same time, ensuring smooth operation of the core processes is fundamental. Gartner has been referring to this concept of bimodal IT requirements as pace-layered IT, see In the Digital World CIOs Need Bimodal IT: Rock Solid IT with Ability for Fluidity.
That's one of the value propositions for SAP HANA Cloud Platform and it's something that is relevant for every company regardless of whether they have embraced HANA or cloud (yet).
Note: Of course, I strongly promote considering to use HCP to leverage HANA and make your first step towards the cloud, but to stay true to the title of this posts I'll continue with emphasizing on the platform aspect.
In simple terms, HCP enables you to out-source your innovation - in the truest and most literal meaning of the word. Instead of doing plenty of custom-coding, configuration and customizing (or even modifying) directly within your core backend system(s) SAP recommends to use HCP for these purposes. That way, you don't start/continue to pick up baggage (aka technical debt) and consequently benefit from being able to constantly update/upgrade your core system(s) without having to worry that something breaks.
At the same time, given the comprehensive set of platform capabilities and services provided by HCP you can develop and roll-out new applications and solutions in unprecedented time.
For many customers a great way to get started with HCP are so called on-premise extensions. In such a scenario, one uses the cloud to expose functionality residing within the on-premise Business Suite (or S/4HANA) system(s) to the end-users. Typical use-cases are employee self-services (ESS) or other Fiori-like scenarios. In general, I usually recommend to start with non mission-critical use-cases in order to have the chance to gain experiences first. Also, keeping the scope to a small or medium complexity level also helps to ensure that the first pilot solution will be a success. From my personal experiences I can say that once you have demonstrated to the business that you can now develop new solutions in a matter of weeks (not months or years) they will quickly come up with more ideas and suddenly you don't have to convince the business people any longer, but they help you shape the path towards the cloud.
With that, I hope I was able to pique your interest and if you should happen to attend TechEd (or watch from afar) then you'll sure hear more about SAP HANA Cloud Platform in the following days. I hope you tune-in and now that you know that HCP is more than just HANA in the cloud you may realize that there are many ways to leverage the platform as part of your own agenda.
At the end of the day, HCP is a platform intended to help you take it to the next level and build amazing things on top. Only you know what the next "killer app" may be within your company, your domain or the whole industry... so, let's get started!
With that - let me wrap it up with a hat-tip to Hugh MacLeod aka “gapingvoid“. In his eBook “Authenticity is The New Bullshit” there's a paraphrase from an interview conducted by Tom Peters with Horst Brandstätter (owner and CEO of the Germany-based toy manufacturer Playmobil):
Replace ‘toy’ with ‘platform’ and ‘child’ with ‘developer’ and you have a very inspiring guiding principle for any aspiring enterprise developer, don't you agre?