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SAP Cloud Computing

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Introduction

Unless you have been living under a rock in the Atacama Desert with only a Llama for company, you will have come across the term cloud computing. It is thrown about wildly on the internet, in corporate buzz word speeches and even in some of the stranger pubs in Dublin.

 

Believe it or not, the cloud is nothing new. Its evolution has seen it meander from a mainframe-terminal relationship in the corporations and universities of the 1950’s, to the complex array of services provided today. This can make it quite difficult when trying to find a single definition for cloud computing. Yes its roots are computing concepts of a bygone era, but it is only recent advances in network technologies that have allowed for the cloud to emerge as a potential successor to the personal computer. With this in mind do any of us really understand what cloud computing is or where it came from?

 

Defining the undefinable

In researching the answer to what cloud computing is, it is easy to become flummoxed with the vast differences in definitions found in a simple Google search or varying books on the topic. For example;

  • Gartner defines cloud computing as “a style of computing in which scalable and elastic IT-enabled capabilities are delivered as a service using Internet technologies” [1]and it is important to note that Gartner refer to this definition as “Official”.
  • The National Institute of Standards and Technologies (NIST) define cloud computing as “a pay-per-use model for enabling available, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g. networks, servers, storage, applications, services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.” [2]
  • Alternatively there is the economist’s view that “Cloud computing is essentially the next phase of innovation and adoption of a platform for computing, networking, and storage technologies designed to provide rapid time to market and drastic cost reductions.” [3]

 

A lot of these definitions don’t describe what cloud computing is, merely the usage and features of the cloud. The fact appears to be that cloud computing is such a multitude of things that these definitions amongst more are perfectly correct, but for the most part fall into the corporate buzz word trap, with a continuous regurgitation of “scalable” and “elastic”, without really giving any insight into what either term means in relation to the cloud.

 

A brief use case

John Smith is the owner of an online Novelty Christmas Jumper store founded in 2010. Three seasons on and coming into the fourth, John has been delivering Jumpers worldwide and in turn has had a serious increase in sales. When John initially set up the business he purchased a small server to run both company software and host the website, unfortunately this hardware investment was done without the foresight of such amazing growth. John now has hardware that is incapable of maintaining his business. During his busy period last year John received daily complaints about the performance of his website. John’s company has scaled and his hardware and software both need to do the same.

 

Although John Smith’s Novelty Christmas Jumper store is a fictional creation, it is a perfect example of how the cloud can benefit scaling companies. Rather than a heavy upfront investment in IT, as your business grows, the cloud allows your hardware and software solutions to scale as required. Another point to note is the major busy period at Christmas. Companies no longer have to purchase IT equipment to deal with the worst case scenario. The elasticity of the cloud allows businesses to add and subtract Virtual Machines and Disk Space with just a few lines of code. We are now in an era of service based, requirement ready computing. The next question is - how did we get here?

 

An ideological birth

It appears the concept of cloud computing is much attributed to John McCarthy when in 1961 he pondered that “computation may someday be organized as a public utility.” [4]McCarthy likened his concept for the future of computing to that of the telephone service. In which all the real work is done out of view and the user is only required to lift the receiver and dial a number. His idea was termed “Utility Computing” [5] and provides much of the backbone on which the cloud computing idiom is based.

 

Whilst John McCarthy is associated with the concept J.C.R. Licklider an American computer scientist is more widely associated with proactively developing technologies that created the first networks on which a cloud computing system could exist. Licklider created the idea of a packet switching network called the “Intergalactic Computer Network” in a memo in the 1960’s. His postulation grew traction and led to the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPAnet) in 1969 which is commonly seen as the first internet. [6][7][8]

 

Despite the cloud computing concept being attributed to McCarthy and/or Licklider in hindsight it may now been seen as the next logical step in computing systems. Back in the 1960s and early 1970s, “there was no such thing as a personal computer; instead, there were large mainframes the size of small refrigerators which sat in a specially-designed room and could be accessed by users who shared its processing power, memory, software and so forth.” [9] Access to the mainframe was via a terminal. These terminals had virtually no capabilities other than data input and output. Early mainframe systems were purpose built, expensive and generally only manufactured by large companies such as IBM or developed by Universities. [10] This centralised approach to computing had many advantages, for example;

  • Mainframes run multiple sessions, and with high reliability. Companies can run their IT operations for years without problems or interruptions with minimum down time.
  • Administration is very easy due to the fact that all applications layers are monitored in one Machine.
  • Reduced management and administrative costs whilst providing a much better scalability and reliability. [11]

 

It’s nothing personal

Despite these advantages, the biggest problem and ultimate downfall of the mainframe was the networking technologies of that era. Whilst mainframes were scalable, this scalability was normally confined to a single building. The only network around was ARPAnet which in the early 1970’s was only adding nodes at a rate of 1 per month. [12]This lack of connectivity coupled with the invention of the microprocessor lead to the development and popularisation of the personal computer.

 

Personal sized computers can be traced as far back as the 1970’s. The French made Micral N being the earliest example of what we consider nowadays to be a personal computer. It was introduced in 1973, powered by Intel's 8008 chip, and was the first commercial non-kit computer based on a microprocessor. It was conceived in France by François Gernelle. It took until the 1980’s before the personal computer eventually popularised. This was due to the expense involved in creating a “one size fits all” computer. The first example of this style of computer was the Amstrad CPC range launched in 1984. The early 90’s, with a special gratitude to Microsoft saw sales of the personal computer explode. Sales between 1985 and 1990 were approximately 24 million, the following five years to 1995 saw sales more than double to 58 million. This growth in the personal computer market brought a new need for network connectivity and once again the Universities came to the rescue. [13][14][15]

 

Networking is good

As the personal computer evolved, so too did the network technologies that brought the existence of the internet. ARPAnet originally designed as a way to allow the American Air Force maintain command and control after a nuclear attack, was now beginning to connect Universities across America. ARPAnet’s abilities were limited, a user could only connect to a remote computer, print to a remote computer and transfer files between computers. These limited abilities however were revolutionary at the time and ARPAnet’s Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) quickly became the network industry standard. Another major milestone in the development of the internet was Ethernet technology created by Bob Metcalfe in 1973. Ethernet quickly coupled with TCP and allowed the widespread development of local area networks in the 1980s, in turn allowing the nascent Internet to flourish. [16][17]

 

In 1989 Tim Berners-Lee proposed the World Wide Web (WWW) as an information management system designed to share ideas and knowledge with his counterparts across the world. In November of the same year Tim Berners-Lee implemented the first successful communication between a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) client and server via the Internet and by 1991 the first server went live in the United States of America. The web developed and grew to the mammoth it is today, as did the means of connectivity. Broadband internet connections are now common place in homes in each corner of the globe. Free wireless connections are offered in coffee shops across all major cities and towns. Mobile phones have transgressed to being mobile devices or smart phones. This ability to always be connected to the web has proved to be the necessary step to combat the devolution the personal computer inevitably was. [18]

 

One step back, two steps forward

In a sense we have evolved back to the cloud. The difference now is the mainframes and terminals are now longer restricted to single buildings but instead span the globe in client server relationships. This has allowed for a new view on software design and hardware infrastructure.

 

In 1999 Salesforce.com showed the world that software can be bought as a service. This “as a Service” ideology caught on quickly and in 2002 online retailer Amazon got involved. At first Amazon offered not software but storage as a service. By 2006 Amazon had developed a full suite of services which could be used on the cloud. One example, Amazon Web Services EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) allows its consumers to create and destroy custom sized web based virtual machines at a whim, fulfilling the “elasticity” criteria of the cloud. [19][20]

 

Since 2006 the idea has continued to evolve. For SAP, the cloud coupled with the invention and innovation of Hana Technologies has allowed for a whole new approach to enterprise software. Most would agree that prior to the explosion of the cloud, SAP was seen as a medium to large scale business software option only, with the clouds elasticity and scalability it is now possible for SAP to truly open its doors to smaller enterprise. The financial benefit of this to SAP is obvious but these SME’s are also set to gain big. The experience SAP has garnished since its foundation in the 70’s is unmatched in enterprise software alternatives. Companies can manage all aspects of their business, be it HR, Finance, CRM or Procurement in the cloud with the most comprehensive cloud computing portfolio on the market. 35 million business users already use SAP Cloud, most seamlessly integrating it with their on premise solutions to maximize business agility. [21]

 

Having looked at some of the services provided by cloud computing it is easy to see the “why” behind its current popularity. For customers, it is the ease of scalability with little upfront capital investment. For providers, it is the ability to open up to new customers and markets. Some figures for cloud products have valued it at 250 billion by 2020 in Europe alone.

 

In Conclusion

Cloud computing is essentially completing the natural life cycle of the computing age. Much like electricity, computing is moving from its innovation stage to service stage. Electricity, which was much known about for hundreds of years was not really commoditised until 1821, when Michael Faraday invented the first electric motor. This caused an innovative period that was maintained through the early and mid-19th Century. In 1890 with much help from Nikola Tesla, the inventor of alternating current (AC), George Westinghouse installed the first long-distance power transmission lines - 14 miles between Willamette Falls and Portland, Oregon. Electricity in less than 80 years went from being innovation to service. Homes all across America and in time the world begin to plug in and pay for the service that is electricity. The similarities to cloud computing are uncanny. [22][23]

 

In truth cloud computing itself has no “real” history, like electricity cloud computing is the culmination of a century of innovations. If not for early computers the size of large rooms, if not for the transition to transistor, if not for ARPAnet and the Internet, if not for the Personal Computer and the mobile phone, if not for all the things that have been instrumental in building a world where technology is common place and connectivity is a necessity, there would be no cloud and there would be no cloud computing. Looking to the future it is easy to see that connectivity will be king and the cloud, well that will be the kingdom.

 

Sources

  1. Gartner, Cloud Computing Definition, http://www.gartner.com/it-glossary/cloud-computing/, 2012
  2. National Institute of Standards and Technology, http://www.nist.gov, 2009
  3. Bill Williams, The Economics of Cloud Computing, Cisco Press, Indianapolis, IN, USA, 2012
  4. Simon Garfinkel, The Cloud Imperative, http://www.technologyreview.com/news/425623/the-cloud-imperative/, 2011
  5. Alfredo Mendoza, Utility Computing, Technologies, Standards and Strategies, Artech House Publishers, 2007
  6. Arif Mohammed, A History of Cloud Computing, http://www.computerweekly.com/feature/A-history-of-cloud-computing, 2012
  7. Technopedia, What is the Intergalactic Computer Network, http://www.techopedia.com/definition/27943/intergalactic-computer-network, 2010
  8. Mary Bellis, ARPAnet – The First Internet, http://inventors.about.com/library/weekly/aa091598.htm, 2013
  9. TurboSoft, A Brief History of Terminal Emulation, http://www.ttwin.com/blog/index.php/history-terminal-emulation, 2011
  10. THOCP, Mainframe, http://www.thocp.net/hardware/mainframe.htm, 2011
  11. Rakesh, Mainframe – Advantages and Disadvantages, http://biznik.com/members/rakesh-s/articles/mainframe-advantages-and-disadvantages, 2011
  12. Computer History Museum, Internet History 1970’s, http://www.computerhistory.org/internet_history/internet_history_70s.html, 2006
  13. Georgi Dalakov, History of Computers, http://www.history-computer.com/ModernComputer/Personal/Micral.html, 2013
  14. Amstrad, Amstrad Company Profile, http://www.amstrad.com/about/profile.html, 2008
  15. EtForecasts, Worldwide PC Forecast, http://www.etforecasts.com/products/ES_pcww1203.htm, 2010
  16. National Museum of American History, Birth of the Internet, http://smithsonian.yahoo.com/arpanet2.html, 2013
  17. Barry M. Leiner et al, Brief History of the Internet, http://www.internetsociety.org/internet/what-internet/history-internet/brief-history-internet, 2012
  18. CERN, How the web began, http://public.web.cern.ch/public/en/about/webstory-en.html, 2008
  19. Julie Bort, The 10 Most Important Companies in Cloud Computing, http://www.businessinsider.com/the-10-most-important-companies-in-cloud-computing-2012-4?op=1, 2012
  20. David Ramirez, Amazon Web Services, http://www.slideshare.net/davinken/amazon-web-services-history-overview-presentation, 2008
  21. SAP Cloud Computing, http://www.sap.com/pc/tech/cloud.html
  22. Spark Museum, The Development of the Electric Motor, http://www.sparkmuseum.com/MOTORS.HTM, 2012
  23. Westinghouse Nuclear, History, http://www.westinghousenuclear.com/Our_Company/history/Timeline/1846_1899.shtm, 2013

In my recent blog I talked about the fact that mission-critical functionality can’t be left behind when moving to the cloud. Every industry, whether it’s manufacturing, travel, retail, or aerospace, has unique requirements that aren’t always met by general cloud solutions. Plus, almost every company has built unique business processes that have traditionally separated it from the competition. The value of this functionality is priceless and core to a business’s success – and it can’t be just left behind on premise. So here’s the million dollar question: How do customers leverage the benefits of moving their key business processes to the cloud to improve business outcomes today and continue to innovate and transform for the future?

 

The technology behind the last mile

All Saas solutions offer a minimum of customization to adapt the solution to customers need. SAP Business ByDesign and SAP Cloud for Customer offer two ways to extending the application: A Key User Tool and a Software Development Kit (SDK) previously known as Partner Development Infrastructure (PDI) – see also this “How-to guide” describing both options in detail. To configure and extend SuccessFactors solutions the “Meta-Data Framework” (MDF) can be used – this SCN blog by Luke Marson provides an overview on MDF for those of you wanting to get a deeper insight.

 

What all these tools have in common is that they allow customers IT or the Business User to adapt the solutions without long intensive training – no need to engage a 3rd Party and spent a lot of money. On the other hand cloud-based solutions are by nature limited when it comes to individualization and supporting specific business requirements beyond a certain level. To be able to build and deploy rich extensions, there is a need for an extensibility layer. Within this added layer of development, valuable, mission critical business functionality can be fully realized and the promise of the cloud can become a reality.

 

Building rich functional cloud extensions – Why PaaS ?

To avoid disruptions of the underlying core cloud solution allowing seamless regular updates, rich and complex custom-tailored extensions needs to be build outside, decoupled from the core solution. Extensibility is managed in a dedicated, separate cloud infrastructure offered in a platform as a service (PaaS) model where the SaaS business objects are accessed via public APIs. As PaaS and cloud application are different solutions with distinct databases, they do not share the same data objects. SAP HANA Cloud Platform (HCP) is SAPs PaaS offering. It offers

  • a design time environment to develop cloud applications
  • an enterprise-scale  runtime environment to run the applicationsPAAS big picture HCP.jpg

PaaS solutions like HCP support three major business scenarios:

  • New innovative cloud applications supporting customers to e.g. establish new business model and enter new markets
  • Easy-to-use cloud applications extending on-premise to support the end-users need for consumer-like business apps while running complex business processes in the on-premise backend
  • Rich cloud solutions extending the functionality of existing SaaS solutions to fulfill unique business process requirements. The Extension Package for SuccessFactors is an example of such an extension providing out-of-the-box abilities to build cloud solutions extending extend Success Factors Employee Central (EC) core functionality

 

I strongly recommend reading the blog “SAPHANA Cloud Platform – setting the stage” from SAP Cloud guru and evangelist Matthias Steiner for an overview on what HCP is all about and what it offers to customers and partners.

 

Get started on the last mile now…

For organizations that want to move to the cloud, there is no reason to wait! Having laid the foundation on how this goal technically can be achieved, my next blog will cover design and build of these applications in more detail and how SAP is scaling up its development resources to help customers to accelerate their journey to the cloud.

 

Let me know your thoughts and stay tuned!

 

Oliver

Developers looking to build applications with SAP database solutions now have access to components of the SAP® Data Management portfolio in OpenShift.   The mobile data management cartridge for the SAP SQL Anywhere suite, available to developers for free, makes it easier for developers creating database applications in OpenShift to extend their data to remote and mobile applications, and keep it synchronized.


Using the OpenShift Cartridge API, the cartridge for SAP SQL Anywhere enables developers to quickly "snap-in" a pre-configured, ready-to-develop cartridge for synchronizing MySQL-based applications. This means more rapid development of applications that require fast, scalable and reliable online/offline data synchronization of mobile devices and remote offices to a central server database.

 

SAP SQL Anywhere is a comprehensive suite of solutions that provides data management and synchronization technologies that enable the rapid development and deployment of database-powered applications in embedded, SaaS, remote and mobile environments.

 

The combination of OpenShift by Red Hat and SAP SQL Anywhere delivers developers a flexible, choice-driven solution that is capable of handling large amounts of data. OpenShift automates the provisioning management and scaling of the application, while the self-administering, self-tuning, self-healing and synchronization support features of SAP SQL Anywhere make it well-suited for zero-administration environments.

 

Developers want technologies and solutions that help them do their jobs better, faster. Developing apps in OpenShift using the mobile data management cartridge for SAP SQL Anywhere lets developers do this, while taking advantage of key SAP database technologies and scaling to the needs of the application from small scale through enterprise-class.”

 

Developers can access SAP’s cartridge and mobile data management component through github.

Cartridge for SAP SQL Anywhere for OpenShift

Mobile Data Management component for SAP® SQL Anywhere

 

For more information on SAP SQL Anywhere and its mobile data management component, visit

http://scn.sap.com/community/sql-anywhere

 

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Today the benefits of the cloud – cost efficiencies, increased operational flexibility, and lower total cost of ownership – are well within reach. Companies understand that the fastest path to maximizing innovation and business transformation is through the cloud and that this journey, when executed properly, can help enterprises take a competitive lead in their industries. But organizations are still struggling to come up with a comprehensive cloud-adoption strategy that

 

  • works for their existing, well-established business processes
  • takes into consideration the investment into their on-premise infrastructure
  • gives  them the flexibility to innovate and fulfil the growing business

 

The hurdle of the last mile

When considering moving the cloud, many organizations are concerned that they will need to leave the functionality of their on-premise solutions – which often includes competitive, industry-specific extensions – behind,on premise. This is a valid concern, because while cloud solutions are providing innovation at the pace of business change, not all cloud solutions fully address a company’s primary – and often mission-critical – business process functionality. One of the reasons why cloud solutions sometimes struggle to support the customer’s need for individual, unique, tailored business process solutions is described in the following SCN blog by Sven Dennecken “Cloud Myth Busting: Myth #8 - Cloud Can’t Adapt to My Needs.“… SaaS solutions require more discipline of enterprises in the standardization of processes. Updates can’t be performed individually as a large number of tenants share the same solution core – and this core needs to be kept upgradable anytime.”

273818_l_srgb_s_gl.jpgIn reality, this “last-mile” challenge – bringing mission critical functionality to the cloud – is companies all around the globe experience. A recent report from Oxford Economics shared results from a survey indicating that for 42% of the respondents, business continuity was a risk that they were concerned about in the adoption of cloud computing. The report also says that integrating clouds with on-premise applications is one of the challenges that companies face in meeting their cloud strategies.

 

Mission-critical functionality can’t be left behind – How to deal with it in the cloud?

In my next blog I will talk about ways to overcome this challenge e.g. by using a PaaS solution like SAP HANA Cloud Platform. I will then tell you how SAP is scaling up its development resources to help customers which are starting this journey to run their mission critical tailored business processes in the cloud. And I’ll end the mini-series with two or three recent customer projects – at least that’s the plan.

 

Let me know your thoughts on this and stay tuned!

 

Oliver

Welcome back to this mini series about SAP HANA Cloud Platform (HCP). In part 1 we provided you with a high-level overview about PaaS in general and HCP in more detail. Based on this knowledge we can now dig deeper and see how some of the recent announcements fit into the bigger picture.

 

Open PaaS

 

It is essential to understand SAP's vision in regards to PaaS to fully grasp the relevance and the importance of the things we'll discuss in this blog post. So, let's have a brief look back at the early days before we fast forward to today (and beyond).

 

In the beginning of SAP's PaaS journey there's been the conscious decision to start from scratch and develop a cloud platform based on open standards and open source software. From a development perspective this approach looked promising and perfectly in-line with the typical benefits of using open-source: reduced development time, a stable and mature code base to build on and ultimately lower development costs. Interestingly these benefits are exactly those a cloud platform needs to provide in order to appeal to developers, which is why we decided to not only use this approach internally to develop the platform, but also to make it our guiding motto in regards to design decisions impacting how developers would interact with the platform (Please see: SAP NetWeaver Cloud & Open Source - A match made in heaven)

 

In simple terms this philosophy boils down to: only differentiate in areas where there is no prior art and where differentiation adds value! In all other areas it pays off to use open standards and open source as it lowers the entry barrier and leverages synergies. Ultimately, (cloud) platforms are all about adoption and the best way to push adoption is to make it plain & simple to get started.

Slide07.jpg

 

The way we see it providing an open platform goes beyond technology and encompasses the whole lifecycle from familiarizing with the platform, getting all the required tooling, to education and staying up-to-date. In this regard, HCP truly is the prime example of a new philosophy at SAP as everything a developer needs to get started is freely available on the web.

 

Information

 

Our central landing page (http://hcp.sap.com) provides tailor-fitted information for all stakeholders (customers, partners and developers) to learn about the platform and its capabilities. The developer section of this website features lots of tutorials explicitly covering the getting started experience. Additionally, the entire online documentation is publicly available on http://help.hana.ondemand.com. (Speaking of which, the best testimonial about the quality of the online documentation came from DemoJam runner-ups SAP Droids, a team of mid-school kids, that developed a mobile application connected to HCP. In a follow-up interview one of their team members claimed to have been "able to teach himself how to program on that platform largely based on the documentation SAP provided."  [REF])

 

Tools & SDKs

 

We understand that developers are reluctant to marketing and that ultimately they want to experience the platform first-hand to assess it. For that purpose, we provide all our tools and SDKs for download on a central page: http://tools.hana.ondemand.com/#cloud. To facilitate the consumption of HCP's APIs for Java develoeprs we also provide the respective packages on Maven Central, which is a popular repository for Java artifacts. (For further information please refer to Building Java Web Applications with Maven.)

 

Please note that SAP offers free, perpetual developer accounts for SAP HANA Cloud Platform to provide developers with the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the platform first-hand. Signing up is as simple as 1-2-3 and does not take more than 5 minutes. Those interested please visit our respective developer page on:

 

http://hcp.sap.com/developers.html

 

 

Education

 

For the purpose of learning more about the platform and how-to develop on top of it SAP provides free online education courses (Massive Open Online Courses) on open.sap.com. The courses we conducted so far have seen a great uptake (more than 70k people enrolled) from the community and the feedback has been very positive. The repetition of "Next steps with SAP HANA Cloud Platform" hosted by Rui Nogueira is still ongoing, but you can always access past courses online here: Introduction to SAP HANA Cloud Platform. Furthermore, there is a great selection of shorter HOW-TO videos available via the SAP HANA Academy on youtube: SAP HANA Cloud Platform - Java Development

 

For more information regarding the openSAP courses related to HCP please consult this article: openSAP course guide - Introduction to SAP HANA Cloud Platform.

 

Code samples

 

Developers want source code and ready-to-run samples to get up to speed with a given technology. That's why we provide plenty of them on our github page all shipping under an Apache v2 open-source license.

 

Communication

 

Last, but not least: communication. Let me start by pointing out our public release notes. Since day one we play it open by providing detailed information about our bi-weekly updates to the platform. Those who have been following HCP for a while can certainly testify that we have been walking the talk. The next resource to mention is the HCP Developer Center, the place where the community mingles and where we share news, blog posts and other information with our developer base. Last, but not least... many on the team are also active on Twitter and other social networks (e.g. Slideshare).

 

Cloud Foundry @HCP

 

Now that you know our stance on openness let's discuss how some of the more recent announcements fit into the picture. In March this year SAP (among others) joined the Cloud Foundry Foundation as a platinum member. This step marks an important milestone in our engagement with Cloud Foundry, which dates back a few years already. As announced in a keynote session at the Cloud Foundry Summit, SAP will intensify its investment and partnership with Cloud Foundry, following up on some contributions that have already been made (e.g. the SAP HANA Service Broker for Cloud Foundry or the node.js Connector for SAP HANA.)

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Going forward, SAP will incorporate Cloud Foundry as an additional runtime container alongside the existing JVM-based runtime and the native SAP HANA programming model leveraging server-side Javascript. To pilot this integration of Cloud Foundry into the HCP stack SAP is currently developing a new "as-a-Service" commerce platform based on Hybris, which will run on Cloud Foundry.

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Given the support Cloud Foundry receives from all the members of the Cloud Foundry Foundation and the broader PaaS community it has the potential to become the "Linux of the Cloud". The reasons for SAP to embrace (or even propose to CF as Richard Hirsch put it) are manifold, but they all share a common characteristic - openness:

 

  • support for additional runtimes and programming models via so-called buildpacks
  • low risk of lock-in for apps and services due to wide adoption of Cloud Foundry among PaaS providers
  • gain more flexibility in deployment models for HCP (e.g. private cloud scenarios)
  • last, but not least the opportunity to help shape an ecosystem that spans across the whole industry

 

The desired flexibility to leverage HCP in non-SAP data centers was also a main reason to strengthen our commitment to OpenStack as announced in July. The combination of Cloud Foundry and OpenStack promises both a low entry barrier and a reduced TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) for customers and partners intending to run HCP in various cloud environments.

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SAP actively contributes to Cloud Foundry with an emphasis on features required to operate the respective technologies in an enterprise-scale cloud environment distributed across the globe. Other key areas besides operations are commercialization (commercial micro-services based on Hybris, marketplace integration, metering & billing services and API management) and user management (replication of users from central enterprise stores, enterprise-grade authentication and authorization, Single Sign-On and user mapping between CF users/roles and common identity providers.)

 

Planned innovations

 

I'd like to wrap up this blog post by providing a brief outlook on other planned innovations. We already elaborated on some of them in the previous paragraphs, yet there are two topics we did not cover so far: support of additional databases (SAP ASE and SAP IQ) and the integration of Docker as an additional runtime container. For those who may not have heard of Docker yet, here's a short description from its founder Solomon Hykes:

"Docker is an open platform for developers and sysadmins to build, ship, and run distributed applications. Consisting of Docker Engine, a portable, lightweight runtime and packaging tool, and Docker Hub, a cloud service for sharing applications and automating workflows, Docker enables apps to be quickly assembled from components and eliminates the friction between development, QA, and production environments. As a result, IT can ship faster and run the same app, unchanged, on laptops, data center VMs, and any cloud." [REF]

 

In other words, think of Docker as a virtualization technology, which allows to define images including both the application plus arbitrary runtime dependencies. These images can be deployed into any cloud environment that support Docker. In comparison to other VM-based virtualization technologies, Docker is more lightweight as multiple Docker containers share the host OS and kernel while ensuring clean resource isolation and allocation. The obvious benefit is the flexibility this brings to HCP in regards to the components that can be deployed.

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Those interested to learn more about the roadmap of HCP are strongly recommended to attend the respective session at SAP TechEd conducted by  Thorsten Schneider (Head of HCP Product Management):

 

DEV814

 

Product Roadmap Q&A (1hr)

Road Map Q&A: SAP HANA Cloud Platform

 

SAP HANA Cloud Platform combines the power of SAP HANA with the flexibility of the cloud to build net new industry and LoB solutions, and to extend existing SAP solutions. This session outlines currently available features, planned innovations, and the future direction of SAP HANA Cloud Platform.

 

Speakers: Thorsten Schneider

Tue, 12:00pm - 01:00 pm

We, 10:00am - 11:00am

 

Outro

 

As you can see there's a lot of traction behind SAP HANA Cloud Platform and yet I barely scratched the surface with this two part blog series. Those attending SAP TechEd && d-code this year will definitely  hear more during the event; all others - don't worry we'll make sure you capture all the relevant information in subsequent blog posts. Stay tuned...

 

PS: Short reminder - here's a summary of all HCP-related sessions conducted at SAP TechEd && d-code: HANA Cloud Platform @TechEd - Not to be missed!

 


Note: The respective presentation can be found on Slideshare: SAP HANA Cloud Platform - Setting the stage

SAP TechEd && d-code is just around the corner and as everyone is busy with last minute preparations it's buzzing all around me. From what I can tell SAP HANA Cloud Platform (HCP) will be a BIG topic this year and as such I'd like to set the stage for the things to come. Assuming that not everyone is yet familiar with SAP's cloud platform I decided to divide this post into two parts.

 

In part one, we'll start from scratch and talk about cloud platforms and their value proposition in general before we have a closer look at HCP. As such, it can be considered as preliminary reading for those that want to gain a better understanding of the platform prior to going to SAP TechEd && d-code. The second part will then take it from there and focus on more recent activities and announcements

 

 

Cloud Basics

 

Before we dig deeper, let's establish a common vocabulary:

 

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Cloud computing is a relatively new phenomena within IT, yet it's a close kin (if not the brain child) to established practices such as hosting and virtualization. More so, it takes the principle of outsourcing the operation of systems via hosting services and the flexibility of hardware virtualization to the next level: the result is called Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). In short, IaaS providers offer resources (e.g. computing power, storage, networking bandwith etc.) on a subscription basis. This frees customers from having to buy/maintain their own hardware and instead rent them as needed from IaaS providers. This does not only result in a shift from capital expenses to operational expenses, but also empowers companies to focus on topics closer to their primary expertise (instead of having to deal with low-level infrastructure challenges!) The fact that the dominant IaaS players all operate at extra-large scale and that they are fighting for marketshare very aggressively results in offerings which are also very appealing from a pricing perspective. As such, IaaS by itself is (close to becoming) a commodity business and consequently vendors are offering higher-level services to differentiate from the competition (more on that later on!)

 

A common analogy to explain the benefits of cloud computing is the introduction of power grids as part of the industrial revolution. Instead of having to operate their own steam engines (or equivalent) to produce electricity companies started to procure electricity from specialized suppliers. What I find particularly fitting about this comparison is the fact that both electricity and computing resources per se are just means to power something. In the context of cloud computing this of course means: applications!

 

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) provides many advantages over traditional on-premise solutions. For consumers, SaaS solutions provide a care-free experience: the software is always up-to-date (without having to cope with tedious updates etc), it's accessible from anywhere (on-demand) and new features are rolled out more frequently (continuous delivery). Solution providers on the other hand benefit from the reduced time-to-market gained with SaaS and that they can rollout new features to all customers at once. Yet, given the demand to rollout new solutions faster than faster the question arises how-to best (reads: most efficiently) develop SaaS solutions. Enter: Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS).

 

Cloud platforms such as HCP address this challenge by providing a standardized design and runtime environment to develop, extend and run applications in the cloud. They provide an abstraction layer for the underlying infrastructure and take away the burden of managing all the lower-level infrastructure complexity such as load-balancing, disaster recovery (DR), high-availability (HA), fail-over scenarios (FO) and elasticity ... just to name a few. This way,  development organisations can focus on developing their business solution based on this standardized environment and the comprehensive set of capabilities, services and APIs offered by the platform.

 

Platform Play: End-to-End approach

 

So far, we have exclusively talked about the technical implications and benefits of PaaS, however that is only one aspect of it. For a platform to be successful it is important to also cover the commercial factors and the marketplace.

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As such, the SAP HANA Cloud Platform needs to seen as the technical pillar of a broader cloud platform play including the SAP HANA Marketplace and of course - the ecosystem. The best example of a successful platform strategy can be found in the mobile space where companies like Apple and Google have established a thriving economy for mobile applications around their respective platforms. The underlying rational is simple:

The platform that accomplishes to attract the most developers will get the most apps. The platform with the most apps will be the most attractive platform for customers. The platform with the biggest customer base will be most attractive for developers and so on.  [Source]

 

In a nutshell, it's a cycle, that - once set in motion - eventually accelerates itself. SAP is determined to foster such a platform for enterprise software together with its customers and partners. While a lot of the action will take place behind the scenes, this strategy manifests itself in the newly created HCP-centric website: http://hcp.sap.com. (For further information please read the respective blog post: A new home)

 

Typical usage scenarios

 

While cloud platforms have to cater to and support a broad variety of usage scenarios (see The VOID that is PaaS) we understand that it helps to provide typical usage scenarios. Especially for less technical people it's sometimes hard to get a grasp of the opportunities such a platform provides by just looking at its technical capabilities. To address that we have compiled a set of scenario archetypes that have proven to be ideally suited to be developed on HCP, yet please keep in mind that this is not an exclusive list, but rather meant to be a conversation starter.

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So, the three major usage scenarios we see are as follows:

 

  • New cloud solutions (e.g. LoB solutions or verticals) that leverage the in-memory capabilities of the underlying SAP HANA database platform
  • On-premise extensions that extend or connect to existing on-premise systems and use the cloud as an outbound channel for easier access and providing a first-class user experience (e.g. such as Fiori)
  • Cloud extensions that extend the functionality of existing SaaS solutions such as SuccessFactors Employee Central

 

The next usage scenario HCP will be focusing on is Internet of Things (IoT), so expect to hear announcement in this area during SAP TechEd && d-code.

 

HCP within the broader cloud strategy of SAP

 

With common usage scenarios outlined above it's a good opportunity to elaborate on HCPs role within the broader cloud strategy of SAP. As such, let's spend a few minutes elaborating on this aspect.

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Given the similarities in names it's important to understand the difference between the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud (HEC) and SAP HANA Cloud Platform (HCP). The former (HEC) is a managed service provided by SAP to operate (parts of) a companies landscape on behalf of the customer, freeing him to focus on more innovate scenarios and solutions that help to differentiate from competitors. Focus use cases are: SAP Business Suite on HANA, SAP BW on HANA, SAP HANA Data Marts and other solutions based on SAP HANA. Customers subscribing to HEC benefit from an initial end-to-end assessment prior to a tailor-fitted migration to HEC. SAP then takes care of  application maintenance and all other operational activities within HEC's managed cloud environment.

 

SAP HANA Cloud Platform on the other hand is SAP's public cloud PaaS offering to develop, extend and run applications in the cloud. This could be either custom-developed solutions developed in-house, applications developed with the intension to sell them as SaaS solutions (e.g. via the SAP HANA Marketplace) or ready-to-run applications provided by SAP or its partners.

 

HCP is also the designated extension platform for SAP`s SaaS solutions including the recent acquisitions of Ariba, Hybris, Fieldglass etc. as well as the strategic development platform for new cloud solutions. Prime examples of such solutions are SAP Financial Service Network , SAP Precision Marketing or SAP Mobile Documents just to name a few.

 

[Update:] The latest addition to the list of SaaS applications powered by HCP is the new SAP Cloud for Planning solution.

 

Available packages

 

SAP HANA Cloud Platform comes in various packages, each targeting a unique group of customers - all of which are available via the SAP HANA Marketplace:

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Let's have a closer look at the individual packages:

 

  • Infrastructure Services - This package provides SAP HANA infrastructure on a subscription basis for customers who already have a license and who want to get up and running quickly and without having to invest into hardware.
  • DBServices - This package provides both infrastructure and license subscriptions for SAP HANA and it comes in two flavors: a Base and a Platform Edition. Both editions provide native development capabilities such as SQLScript and Extended Application Services (XS) as well as SAP HANA Cloud Integration for data services for initial and delta loads.
  • AppServices - This package includes all the capabilities of the DBServices package plus in addition provides shared Application Services and capabilities typically required for the development of new multi-tenant cloud applications or extensions of existing solutions residing either on-premise or in the cloud. Furthermore, it offers additional runtimes and programming models such a certified Java Web Profile runtime as well as an integrated development and runtime environment to develop lightweight consumer apps based on HTML5 and Javascript.

 

Which package best suits your needs depends on your intended usage scenario and whether or not you already have a license for SAP HANA. For more information regarding the individual packages and their capabilities please consult the following blog post: SAP HANA Cloud Platform - The full package.

 

Please note that SAP offers free, perpetual developer accounts for SAP HANA Cloud Platform to provide developers with the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the platform first-hand. Signing up is as simple as 1-2-3 and does not take more than 5 minutes. Those interested please visit our respective developer page on:

 

http://hcp.sap.com/developers.html

 

 

High-level overview

 

To wrap up the first part of this mini-series let's have a closer look at the AppServices package and the capabilities it provides:

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As the name suggest, HCP is based on SAP HANA, SAP's in-memory database platform. Needless to say, all applications developed on HCP leverage the vast set of capabilities provided by SAP HANA such as advanced engines (Planning, Geo-Spatial, Predictive, Graph, Text Search & Tech Analytics), the Planning SDK and the Predictive Analysis Library. For more details about these features please consult this document.

 

To facilitate the rapid development of cloud applications the platform provides a vast set of platform services for the most common pattern in software engineering such as persistence, connectivity, identity and document management and so forth. Addressing the needs it requires to develop first-class business applications these application management services are complemented by profiling and monitoring tools, logging capabilities and remote debugging of cloud applications.

 

In addition, HCP offers a set of higher-level services, which provide specialized capabilities as needed for specific scenarios such as:

 

 

Outlook

 

With that I want to conclude part 1. By now, you should have a good understanding about SAP HANA Cloud Platform and its comprehensive set of capabilities as well as typical business scenarios that can be solved using HCP. In part 2, we'll have a closer look on some of the most recent announcements and activities related to the platform and ultimately set the stage for further news revealed at SAP TechEd && d-code. Stay tuned...

 


Note: The respective presentation can be found on Slideshare: SAP HANA Cloud Platform - Setting the stage

Mastering the digital transformation under the pressure of possible disruption is challenging, especially with so many lacking the management and experience necessary.  Leadership is critical in order to kick-start the transformation.  Clear direction and initiative from the right leader can make a substantial push forward toward achieving digital transformation. I would even argue that no leadership means no change and no transformation.

 

A 2013 survey by MIT Sloan and Capgemini Consulting reports that 40% of executives and managers interviewed cite a lack of urgency in the company as the biggest barrier to digital transformation. Even worse, 93% of employees state that they would say yes to a focus on digital transformation. 


So while the exact entry point into digital transformation (customers?  business? processes?) is less widely agreed upon, one thing is clear: businesses need to adopt a digital transformation vision.


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Digital transformation is often pigeonholed as an IT topic, but it is not. If done right, digital transformation affects the entire enterprise. It might start with a well-prepared CIO, fueling the company with new tools and the simplification of processes. But because of the potentially huge impact on the entire company, the strategy needs to be directed from the top down.


Should a digital transformation involve transitioning to an “as a service” business, all C-level executives will need to direct change.  The CFO, CHRO, COO, and CMOs must adapt, since their key areas – financials, people, production, and sales and marketing – will all be affected.


We’ve seen this top-down approach work successfully with the German Football Association (DFB – Deutscher Fussball-Bund).  Oliver Bierhoff, the national team general manager, wanted to improve communication between players.  Realizing that players preferred communicating digitally, Bierhoff connected the dots and commissioned an app for team communication and data analysis.  Within weeks, the team was using the app to communicate and debrief, to perform split-second analysis and to gain deeper insights from player data.  Now with a World Cup victory under their belt, Bierhoff and the team are already thinking of new functions for the app to advance their performance even further.


Challenges

By all means, leaders undertaking digital transformation will have to face a number of challenges.  To start, they must recognize the varying levels of digital proficiency (more details in our previous blog, “The building blocks”).

Not everyone will adapt easily to digital transformation – some may even resist it.  Other problems that leaders may run into include inertia, defensive attitudes, and internal politics. To combat these and to ensure that everyone is on board, organizations need to invest in training and change management workshops, for example, to teach usage and convey the benefits of digital initiatives.


Read more here.

Abbasi Sadikot

Cloud For Composed!

Posted by Abbasi Sadikot Oct 3, 2014


 

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"We can't change the direction of the wind, but we can adjust the sails." – Old Hindu Proverb

 


The SaaS model has undoubtedly disrupted many boardroom strategies. And hopefully by now everyone realizes that cloud is here to stay and are already cloud dreaming. What is important is to realize that we (both cloud adopters and software vendors) need to adapt to Cloud and not the other way around. Because the latter usually results in endless discussions of requirements around features and functions. Resulting into a system of records instead of a simple and robust system of engagement.


Businesses today want to outpace the disruption happening in their space. Cloud adopters should focus on simplifying and effectively run business processes with security and scalability in mind. Try to automate interactions and activities (both with and outside organization) that you couldn't dream with previous generations of technology. Do not mix your aspirations from on-premise world with on-demand. Think of an on-prem running on cloud. Disaster!

 

And software vendors should solve top-3 pain points in customers’ business processes and also focus on security, privacy, UI and performance. The pressure is to provide friction-less software in the digital world capable of computing multiple external interfaces. It should be future ready too; to manage underlying shift in technologies and that the new batches of developers doesn’t sight the architecture as complex.

 

Having worked with SuccessFactors and now with SAP Cloud for Customer, my favorite part in respective “What’s new” guide was never the “new” part. But something that is cool technologically and the powerful set of application capabilities centered on evolving processes and outward-facing interactions.  And so-far they haven’t disappointed. Both C4C and SF are already rich in their offerings and the good news is that they are adjusting their sails as and when needed.

 

I like the character of Mozzie in the TV series White Collar for his eidetic memory. He reiterates many times – “If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.”

 

So maintain calmness and composure as you (either as cloud adopter or cloud provider) draft your cloud story.

In today’s business world, across all industries, nearly everybody is travelling on behalf of the company they are working for. Some people travel every week, others only once a year. But all of them have the daunting task of reporting their travel expenses, which is about as fun as completing your tax declarations. While the once-a-year business travelers can hardly remember how the system works, the frequent travelers need a system which works quickly for all types of expenses.

 

As a result of this, travel managers are sometimes not the most popular people in the company, as they push hard to get all their internal customers satisfied.


But there is a solution available helping them

  • to get full process visibility
  • to report accurate figures to their management that allow them to make the right decisions


This will increases the satisfaction of their users while making their lives easier.

 

And besides that it solves the travel managers’ own issues like increasing compliance, connecting to booking providers effectively, and integrating to the financial backend of their company.

It is also simplifying IT’s life and gives the IT staff some time back to really care about their own internal customers.


Want to learn more about this therapy to simplify your life?


That’s SAP Cloud for Travel and Expense, a world class Travel Management solution.


A cloud solution that is easy to start with and offers easy to learn built-in mobile support to boost productivity.


Visit us @ ACTE Copenhagen:

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Want to read more blogs about Travel and Expense management? Click here

 

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A new study conducted by Oxford Economics for SAP busts several myths that we hear about Millennials. More important, it found evidence that shows Millennials will be the workforce majority soon. It isolates several key factors that companies need to act on now.

 

In Part 1 — The Looming Talent Crisis we debunked some of the myths about the Millennial workforce. Today we will focus on some answers to the most pressing questions: what we need to understand and how can we act on it.


An increase in the number of non-payroll positions for contingent workers will require changes to HR strategy and management — now.

  • 83 percent of executives say they will be increasing the use of contingent, intermittent, or consultant employees.
  • 41 percent of executives say their firm is increasingly using contingent workers.
  • 42 percent say this increasing number of contingent employees is affecting their workforce strategy.

Ongoing globalization and macroeconomic shifts mean the 2020 workforce will be made up of a wider group of ages and nationalities than ever before.


wf2020hub


In order to succeed, companies will need to have a broader understanding of their people and the markets in which they operate.


Executives cite globalization and Millennials entering the workforce as top business concerns — 51 percent say these labor market shifts have great impact on their workforce strategies. Our qualitative research — interviews with executives from around the world — will delve deeper into the reasons for these concerns.

One finding is that the Human Resources department too often lacks the information or insights needed to be truly strategic. HR most frequently works with C-suite executives but does not drive strategy at the board level.


"Only half (52 percent) of executives say workforce issues drive strategy at the board level, and nearly one-quarter say that workforce issues are an afterthought in business planning."

A lack of metrics and tools prevents HR and the whole organization from developing strategies for building the workforce of the future:

"While over half (53 percent) of executives say workforce development is a key differentiator for their firm, they do not have the tools and organization to back it up."


What matters most at work?


Companies often do not understand what their employees really want from them. When it comes to satisfied employees, compensation matters — a lot. Consistent with other recent findings, notably the Corporate Leadership Council, compensation is increasingly important to employees. As a result, companies should focus on monetary rewards.


"Only 39 percent of executives say their company offers competitive compensation. But when ranking the importance of benefits, competitive compensation and bonuses/merit-based rewards rank highest among employees — other benefits are far less important."


The leadership cliff


Executives and employees agree that leadership is lacking — and companies are not focused enough on developing future leaders. The gaps in leadership capabilities spells trouble for future growth.


Executives cite a lack of adequate leadership as the number two impediment to achieving goals of building a workforce to meet future business objectives, and only 35 percent say talent available in leadership positions is sufficient to drive global growth.


Leadership is not equipped to lead a global, diverse workforce. Just one-third (34 percent) say their leaders are prepared to do so. And, 42 percent of C-level executives say their companies’ expansion plans are limited by a lack of access to the right leadership. Employees agree with executives that leadership is lackluster.


Read more here:
Workforce 2020 – Part 2: What matters most to employees and what they really want from their employers | ZDNet

"Information technology and business are becoming inextricably interwoven.  I don't think anybody can talk meaningfully about one without talking about the other" - Bill Gates.

 

This quote perfectly encapsulates the notion that technology and business can no longer be seen as two separate branches within every enterprise.  So it's hard to imagine that the quote is from 1999!

 

Now, more than ever, businesses need to have digital transformation in mind.  However, digital transformation cannot be fueled only from IT – all lines of business and operational processes need to be aligned.  For example, marketing can benefit greatly from social and data analytics with a deeper understanding of the consumer's wants.  Armed with technology, businesses can take advantage of predictive marketing and provide enhanced customer service for an integrated experience.

 

As mentioned in Part 1 – Rapid state of change (see here) – we see four key building blocks of digital transformation that, taken together, can drive enterprises' shift to the new way of business: cloud, mobile, data, and networks.

 

Let’s dive deeper: Series on #DigitalTransformation (3) – The building blocks


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Cloud


The cloud is far more than a deployment model. Ultimately, it means freedom, efficiency and integration.  With the cloud, businesses can focus on their core missions with better collaboration and always up-to-date solutions.  It's scalable, flexible, and accessible.


A collaboration study from 2012 by Knowledge@Wharton and SAP found that 85% of businesses believe that cloud computing will transform their business and/or industry, but 48% of those surveyed have minimal or no adoption of the cloud.  Even in 2012, the cloud was recognized as a critical element for digital transformation; we can only imagine the numbers have grown since.  But even though most businesses realize that cloud adoption is imperative, fewer have actually made the crucial move to cloud adoption.


Need more proof?  Look at the increasing role of LOB in IT investments.  IDC predicts that, "By 2016, 80% of new IT investments will directly involve LOB executives, with LOBs the lead decision makers in half or more of those investments.”


Interestingly, cloud adoption rates are higher for businesses in developing countries, since they have fewer legacy systems in place and thus have no processes to disrupt.  For them, integration or shifting to new systems is not necessary.  Although businesses in developed countries may be on top now, they must avoid the trap of simply "getting by" with legacy systems to protect their existing business.  Adopting the cloud, even as an extension to a working solution, is essential to do so. Ripping and replacing something that still works doesn’t entirely make sense, but transformation is best and fastest if you lead with the cloud.


Finally, the cloud delivers an innovation platform that connects different ends of the world.  Transforming a business and adopting an “as a service” delivery model often requires new ways to deliver, manage, and monitor.  With the cloud, this is possible.


Mobile


Mobile enhances and is inextricably related to the digital transformation.  It takes freedom and connectedness further by allowing for greater access.  Rather than having to haul your computer around, you can now achieve the same functionality with a tablet or smartphone.  Its role is growing, with an astounding 50 billion connected devices predicted for 2020.

Currently, mobile applications are being adopted most quickly in large companies ($20+ billion) and manufacturing firms for functions like travel booking and expense.  Smaller companies ($100 - $999 million) focus on key areas to support their business, for example, expanding mobile recruitment and HR functions. (SAP)

We can find examples of mobile usage in every industry.  In the retail world, employees can use tablets to show off products and check out customer purchases.  Customers now get to skip the line and make their purchases faster.  Doctors, like those working at the Charité University Hospital in Berlin, also benefit greatly from mobile devices.  Not only is using a tablet more convenient, but doctors can also now interact with patients in a less obtrusive way.  Gone are the days where they have to fuss with potentially outdated papers – they can now have instant, up-to-date patient information at their fingertips.  Everything is in one place, ready to go.


Data


Using the right data in the right context means smarter decisions, new opportunities, and ultimately, a big competitive advantage.  Big data is really BIG, with over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data being produced daily – but only a fraction of this really used. The rest serves little to no function as "dark data." Of course, this number will continue to grow, especially with the Internet of Things bringing in data from sensors and wearables.  Systems will be smarter, with airplanes, for example, communicating when their parts will need fixing, then self-scheduling fixing during downtime.

At 2 a.m. this morning, our cat woke me up and I had a quick look at the news feed on my iPad. I saw the announcement that SAP was going to acquire Concur and I rolled over, went back to sleep and had strange dreams that I promptly forgot upon waking.  My brain was obviously working during this period, because I immediately created this list of predictions regarding the announcement.

Predictions

  • Concur extensions running on the HANA Cloud Platform (HCP). Most of SAP’s SaaS offers have extensions running on HCP, for example SuccessFactors.  Although it appears that Concur uses SalesForce at the moment for such scenarios (for example, for its mobile apps or Concurforce), I’d expect changes in this area.
  • HANA used to perform analytics in Concur. This is usually the first move towards the ubiquitous HANA approach and can be seen in SuccessFactors and Ariba. I assume that ConcurInsights will be the first solution to move to HANA.   Another possibility for HANA usage would be the real-time messaging solution Concur Messaging.

The existing SAP SaaS travel application - SAP Cloud for Travel and Expensewill disappear and be replaced by the Concur offering.

  • Fiori is THE UI pattern for SAP applications. Expect Fiori-style UIs / technology to appear in Concur’s applications. A quick search didn’t reveal any oData-based interfaces for Concur but they do have a mature REST API.
  • At the moment, Concur has integration interfaces with various platforms (Financials: Netsuite, Salesforce, etc) including SAP systems. Other partners (including Informatica and Axosnet) also provide such functionality. I assume that there will Concur connectors for HANA Cloud Integration that appear in the future – similar to the standardized connectors for SuccessFactors.
  • Currently Concur has its own data centers (including DCs located in Europe). There will be a consolidation here -  these Concur applications will move to the existing SAP DCs.
  • Much of the attention about the acquisition has been on Concur’s T/E applications. Concur has other offerings including an Invoice Management product.  Ariba has a competing offer in this area. It will be curious to see how the consolidation regarding this duplication plays out. I’d expect Ariba’s product to win leading to a tighter integration between Ariba and Concur in terms of the idea of the “business network”.
  • The acquisition might provide SAP some opportunity to kick-start its cloud activities for SMEs – many of which use the T/E offering from Concur. The ability for cross-selling in this market might allow SAP to sell some of its other offers for such customers.

Characteristics of Concur that I like


  • The Concur App Store is impressive and full of partner applications. Let’s see if some of its momentum wears off on the SAPStore. 
  • Concur has OpenStack experience – in particular SwiftStack to deal with image processing. This fits well with SAP’s push in this direction.
  • Concur provides a public report based on a deep analysis of its data. This action is an excellent example of a company exploiting its data exhaust based on its SaaS applications.
  • Concur has a much tighter relationship with the consumer market (for example, its recent agreement with Uber and Airbnb) than SAP. This consumer focus will help SAP in its current focus on non-traditional areas (such as sports) as it moves beyond the traditional enterprise software space. 
  • Concur has a great developer website with details about its various APIs (for example, here is the site for its enterprise apps). As its cooperation with Apigee demonstrates,  SAP has an interest to improve its API-related features in the cloud. Perhaps, the Cloud API “DNA” from Concur in this area will help SAP move more rapidly in this area. 
  • Concur already has experience with Hadoop. For example, here is the press release about Concur’s use of Hadoop / Cloudera.  I wonder what role HANA will have in such future BigData scenarios at Concur?

Acquisition patterns

 

In April I blogged about interesting patterns in SAP’s cloud acquisitions and identified specific patterns. Regarding the planned Concur acquisition, I wanted to see if my predictions were valid.

 

Category

Concur

These are all established/experienced cloud companies rather than start-ups

1993

These are all companies which were/are largely hosted in their own data centers / other private clouds rather than public clouds

Concur uses its own data centers (for example, in Europe) for public and private cloud solutions.

These are companies whose main products are largely based on established Java-based technologies.

It looks like Concur uses JAVA internally in some fashion. It also uses other technologies (MS SQL, etc) and as usual, any details about its internal architecture are difficult to find.

The focus on the acquired companies is primarily in the Line of Business (LoB) area of SAP's cloud portfolio.

Concur’s main focus is Travel & Expense Management Software – a LOB area.


Not bad – it looks like my predictions were pretty good.

Conclusion

 

Note: The planned acquisition of Concur is still very fresh so I’ve obviously missed a variety of aspects that are interesting and require deeper analysis / research.

As the recent Cloud Deep-dive illustrated, SAP still tends to focus on cloud applications (for example, SimpleFinance based on the HANA Enterprise Cloud) that aren’t SaaS applications.  Concur provides some intriguing possibilities for SAP’s cloud strategy – the question is whether SAP can and will realize this potential and exploit it.

After this year’s Sapphire Now conference in Orlando, the HANA Enterprise Cloud (HEC) was everywhere and was the integral technology of many of SAP’s cloud innovations announced at the conference.


Simple Finance

The result is SAP Simple Finance, based on SAP HANA in SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud, delivering real-time insights to CFOs and finance departments so they can transform their business. SAP Simple Finance takes full advantage of the in-memory SAP HANA platform with new finance capabilities, offers a new and beautiful user experience for easy access, all deployed in SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud under a full subscription model, making it easy for finance departments to adopt these solutions. [SOURCE]

Industry Cloud

Industry cloud solutions are anticipated to offer customers specialized, next-generation business processes and intuitive interfaces that can be easily and quickly deployed across a public, private or hybrid cloud infrastructure, depending on which model best serves the customer’s needs. These industry cloud solutions are intended to run on SAP Cloud powered by SAP HANA via SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud, a fully managed, subscription-based cloud service ….. [SOURCE]

The focus on simplicity

The SAP way to "run simple," as this year's Sapphire theme extols, is to move to the SAP Hana Enterprise Cloud.[SOURCE]

Based on my analysis at the time, I also suggested that the HEC would be the major force in SAP’s Cloud strategy.

A new gang in SAP’s cloud strategy emerges and is triumphant

Based on recent changes, I think there is a new gang that has emerged which is primarily focused on a particular type of cloud application rather than a platform.   In 2012, I had already identified a gang called “SaaS” that was focused on applications in the cloud – albeit SaaS applications.   For this new emergent gang, the type of applications in focus is different than that of the SaaS Gang.

In my opinion, the new gang is currently focused on the idea of migrating existing OnPremise customers to the HANA Enterprise Cloud (HEC) where the core SAP applications (Business Suite, etc) are available on HANA.


After the event, I set a Google Alert on the term of “HANA Enterprise Cloud” and waited to see tons of stories about this new offer.


Expecting a flood of material to demonstrate a strong push in this area, I was disappointed in the amount of buzz that the offering was producing.  Yesterday, I decided to take a deeper look at the topic and was surprised by a Google Trends analysis that I made.


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A note: What does this graph show?

The numbers on the graph reflect how many searches have been done for a particular term, relative to the total number of searches done on Google over time. They don't represent absolute search volume numbers, because the data is normalized and presented on a scale from 0-100. Each point on the graph is divided by the highest point and multiplied by 100. When we don't have enough data, 0 is shown. [SOURCE]


The graph shows that Google searches for “HANA Enterprise Cloud” have basically disappeared.


Before you suggest that the trend data is somehow flawed, let’s compare HEC vs the HANA Cloud Platform (HCP).


hcp-hec.jpg

 

Here, you can see a different trend for HCP that indicates increasing interest.


Analysis

 

I noticed that the majority of Google Alert hits that were being returned by the “HANA Enterprise Cloud” search were SAP job offers that were associated with HEC.  At the moment, there are 66 HEC-related job offers in SAP’s career site.  This constant flow of job offers shows that SAP is definitely working on building up its HEC-related capacity. There are other indicators that SAP is pushing HEC to its customer base (a 1-day forum with Intel, an online assessment, etc) but I’m not seeing a responding resonance in the market.  There might be tons of HEC-related deals occurring out of the public eye but I rarely see any stories describing customer wins for the platform. Perhaps, such customer wins need to be kept secret but the marketing vacuum is only benefiting other vendors in the cloud hosting marketplace (compare the Google Trends analysis of Virtustream and HEC).


What worries me is the fact that HEC plays such a central role in SAP’s future cloud plans – especially regarding the move to simplicity as seen in the Simple Finance offering.  Although most of SAP’s existing cloud revenue currently comes from acquisitions, the HEC plays a critical role in SAP’s desire to help its customers’ transition to the cloud.  Perhaps, the upcoming d-code conference series will provide some news on HEC but my assumption is that SAP’s PaaS (Hana Cloud Platform) will play a more important role at the venue due to its tighter association with developers.   If SAP is to reengage its customer base regarding HEC, it must act quickly to reverse the trends of disinterest that are emerging – once entrenched in the minds of customers, such conceptions are hard to remove.  

I am a close observer of SAP’s cloud activities / strategy. I read every related forum post on SCN and read every SCN blog / content that concerns this platform.  This summer I have been looking for examples of adoption of its PaaS – HANA Cloud Platform (HCP) - especially demonstrations of how SAP and the ecosystem use the platform to meet real business requirements – in particular those related to specific industries.

 

Over the summer, I saw two examples of such applications:

 

Genpact to leverage SAP Solution for insurance in cloud

Genpact has become one of the first SAP partners to optimize its business process outsourcing (BPO) solutions for the SAP Business All-in-One for Insurance solution using SAP HANA Cloud Platform.

…..

By optimizing the solution design for SAP HANA Cloud Platform, Genpact can help insurers improve their visibility into policy, claims and analytics processes and drive efficiencies and visibility through analytics. Genpact leverages advanced operational practices and flexible SAP cloud-based applications to provide insurance companies with fast-deployed, technology-driven operations.

[SOURCE]

This is a great example of a partner exploiting HCP to create industry-specific solution (in this case, insurance).  It is also interesting to note the association with All-in-One – although I don’t know the exact architecture of Genpact’s solution -  I don’t ever recall seeing another solution that bridges both offers. The focus in such hybrid integrations is usually on larger Business Suite environments.  All-in-One focuses on the SME market – a segment that is largely ignored by many Cloud marketing efforts from SAP.

 

SAP and Tru-ID Explore Solutions to Help Identify Fraud in the Food Supply Chain

“Most global supply chain visibility solutions in the food industry ensure strict processes and track packaging, but knowing what species are inside the package is challenging because many species can be hard to identify after processing

….

Integrating DNA-based verification testing and product authenticity certification into supply chain solutions from SAP will help companies identify the source of adulteration among their suppliers. Using SAP HANA Cloud Platform, companies will be able to require suppliers to share independently audited tests.

This would give companies better visibility into the authenticity of the foods provided by their supply chain.  [SOURCE]

This is another example of a partner (an additional plus point is that Tru-ID is also part of SAP’s Start-up program) creating an industry app (this time, the food industry) on HCP. This solution reminds me a little bit of another Cloud offering from SAP “Product Safety Management” that fulfills a similar function for the tracking of hazardous materials.

 

Analysis

Other platforms are moving aggressively into this space (the Industry Cloud from China Information TechnologySaleforceGE and its Predix platform) and I would hope  that SAP’s efforts in this area would also focus on HCP’s intrinsic strengths. Yet, it appears that the recently announced Industry Cloud organization has a different technological focus.

These industry cloud solutions are anticipated to offer customers specialized, next-generation business processes and intuitive interfaces that can be easily and quickly deployed across a public, private or hybrid cloud infrastructure, depending on which model best serves the customer’s needs. These industry cloud solutions are intended to run on SAP Cloud powered by SAP HANA via SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud, a fully managed, subscription-based cloud service used by customers today to run mission-critical SAP applications and manage vast amounts of Big Data all on one real-time business platform.  [SOURCE]

 

The HANA Enterprise Cloud is a hosted solution with a fundamentally different philosophy than that of the HCP. The absence of cloud-based HCP-related industry success stories demonstrate this HEC-centricity still predominates for such ecosystem-based industry applications. Yes, I know there are other existing industry-related HCP-based application created by partners (for example, T-Systems and Hamburg Port Authority) but the number of such stories is unfortunately still relatively limited.

 

As analyst China Martens suggests, there are dangers if vendors don’t rapidly respond to the associated business needs.

User-developed industry cloud applications are starting to emerge -- and they could remake the competitive landscape. A pharmaceutical company building cloud applications that are widely adopted by its peers and by users could end up dominating parts of its market. Application vendors know they may find themselves competing with their leading customers and are starting to work closely with industry leaders on "co-innovation."

Developing vertical applications in-house is a luxury large companies can afford. But for smaller ones with limited development dollars, the best option may be pooling resources with peers. Companies can either fund community development carried out by a third party -- the cloud application vendor or one of its partners -- with the aim of selling the products themselves. Or they can band together with their own partners or even competitors.

 

With such disruptive potential possibilities, you might expect all examples of such partner-created HCP-based applications to be promoted ruthlessly / extensively. Yet the stories mentioned above weren't pushed in the usual social media channels very much. I found the Genpact story based on a Google Alert rather than an official press release.  The Tru-ID story was pushed in the form of an official press release but with a Big Data spin rather than HCP.  Yes - I know that HCP should provide the technological foundation of such solutions and thus remain the background but opportunities are being lost to create momentum within the partner environment.

 

HCP’s target audience: Is a change necessary?

 

Recently, I was part of a Twitter conversation with members of the CloudFoundry ecosystem about ISVs and PaaS adoption where we were debating whether PaaS should focus on ISVs or internal developers creating custom applications.   I kept thinking about HCP and its target audience.

 

Perhaps – its current target audience is just too large / varied.  Although I would love to see HCP be the foundation for all possible scenarios – ranging from IoT to industry to Big Data to start-ups - it could be that a tighter focus is necessary.

 

One of the most important goals of the platform must be to help move existing OnPremise customers to the cloud. This transition will likely be in the form of a hybrid cloud mixing a combination of both cloud and OnPremise assets. The Cloud Connector and its tight integration in the platform is the best example of functionality that performs this role.  In the currently challenging PaaS market, this tighter focus might be an advantageous decision.

 

Another area in which HCP is starting to get traction is in providing extensions to SuccessFactors  (one example is Accenture HR Audit and Compliance as-a-service application that extends SuccessFactors Employee Central).  Inasmuch as much of SAP’s cloud revenue comes from SuccessFactors and Ariba, perhaps the platform should also focus its limited resources on such use cases.  This emphasis would allow customers that purchase other SAP cloud offers to better utilize such resources.

 

A greater emphasis on these two scenarios supporting such hybrid scenarios and extensions means that HCP is less focused on those more innovative areas (such as IoT) that have a greater long term impact but are less important to the immediate concerns of customers just starting on the journey to cloud. I would love to see a multitude of ecosystem-created industry apps running on HCP - technically, the platform could easily support such solutions - yet, in the short term, a tighter focus on other scenarios might provide a better chance for success in the PaaS marketplace.

In the latest evidence that Latin America is fast becoming a worldwide force in the global economy, the cloud computing market is growing by leaps and bounds - and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future,based on the results of a recent report.

In Latin American countries - specifically Brazil, Argentina and Mexico - cloud computing is in the midst of a growth spurt, with a high number of telecommunications businesses entering the market, according to RnR Research. So much so, the cloud computing industry is expected to grow by a compound annual growth rate of more than 26 percent by 2018.

In addition to more telecommunications companies operating out of Latin America, another reason for the development of cloud computing stems from more small and medium enterprises using the technology in their firms, RnR Research revealed. Businesses have turned to cloud computing, realizing that it benefits both consumers as well as how efficiently the company operates.

Services are rendered through the cloud computing process through one of three models, those being either software as a service, platform as a service or infrastructure as a service, the RnR Research report stated. With the first, SaaS, software is made available to for use through the Internet. PaaS is similar, only it concerns the delivery and deployment of platforms for development. IaaS is more broad, in that it describes the utilization of infrastructure from a standpoint of information technology.

What's helped cloud computing become a success?
Though at one time cloud computing was something of a novelty, thus fairly young in development as far as what the service could provide to business and consumers in general, there have been several "critical success factors" for the growth of hybrid cloud computing, according to Gartner. For instance, internal private cloud computing helps to maximize how entities handle their assets, both internal and external. Cost efficiency is also easier with hybrid cloud computing, evidenced through competition and capital expenditure.

Other benefits of cloud computing include improving a company's resilience to IT errors or disaster recovery issues and enhancing functionality.

Latin America regulations have in effect created the need for the hybrid cloud. That's because governments in most of these countries not only mandate e-invoicing, which is more easily taken care of through the economies of scale offered by hybrid cloud services. In fact, utilizing this delivery model is a lot cheaper than utilizing on premise applications, which at one time was the only solution option available.

To find out more about the hybrid cloud model

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