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SAP Cloud Computing

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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:





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



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.


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




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 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.


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.


  • 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.




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


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.



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.




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).



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



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.


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.



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

The smartphone has brought a deluge of disruption to our lives, changing and challenging one industry after another at a staggering pace. It has not only changed the way we interact with games and media, it has even transformed experiences like customer engagement.

Apple stores have done an impressive job of driving engagement with their customer-first focus. Their efforts embody the premise that customer engagement does not end once a product is paid for: Customers may return for help from the Genius Bar or learn how to use their device with online-scheduled workshops and one-on-one sessions. Thanks to Apple's localization features, customers are greeted personally the moment they walk into a store, delivering an even more personalized experience.


Digital initiatives also improve customer engagement. iPads, not paper, display helpful information and guides for products using video, not text. With Easypay, customers can buy things using their iDevices and iTunes accounts – no wallets necessary. The future will certainly bring even more creative ways technology can enhance customer engagement.


But how do you get in on the trend? It's clear to see that technology is disruptive. This is precisely why we need to talk about digital transformation. Driven by the combination of ever-growing digitization and evolving consumer demands, digital transformation is the use of new technologies to drive significant business improvements. This includes capitalizing on new opportunities as well as effectively transforming existing business.


Let's take a look at the elements behind the disruption of digital transformation.

Empowerment of the end user

More than ever, consumer expectations matter. Don't like that app that you just downloaded? Give it a bad review. The developer will respond. No response means lost customers, or worse, going out of business. We live in an end-user-centered world and enterprises must recognize that their customers and even employees have higher and ever-evolving expectations. What worked a couple of years ago won't fly today, nor will it continue to hold for the future. If you’re wondering, “Well, I’m in the B2B space, so how does this apply to me?” then you’ve got it all wrong. You are in B2B2C and must know your customer’s customers as well to survive in the “everything as a service” economy.

Let’s not forget that a couple of bright people can do for you today what you needed entire businesses for some years ago.


Users are now so accustomed to the streamlined, instantly responsive experience from Google or Amazon that they expect the same from all enterprises. Providing instant value, mobile functionality, and a user-friendly interface is no longer a bonus value but a necessity. When customers complain online, they expect their feedback to be seen and addressed quickly, no matter what channel they use. There are no excuses for redundancy: Why should a customer see an advertisement for a product that they've already bought? Businesses must act accordingly or themselves face disruption.

Digital proficiency

But how do we adapt personally to these changes? Can we or do we need to disrupt ourselves? And how do we deal with the known statistics about Millenials and their expectations?


Ray Wang from Constellation Research made the valuable point that we should not divide people digitally by age, but by proficiency. Digital proficiency is a much more realistic way to approach the varying levels of ability when it comes to digital technologies. Businesses must recognize this for both their employees and their customers. Check out Ray Wang's post here for more information.

Ray Wang's 5 levels of digital proficiency are defined as:

  1. Digital natives - grew up and comfortable with digital
  2. Digital immigrants - adopters of digital
  3. Digital voyeurs - cautiously recognize the digital shift
  4. Digital holdouts - resist and ignore digital
  5. Digital disengaged - give up on digital


Even though I am happy to state, “Lucky me, I’m in category 2,” I would like take this further with an additional "digitally balanced" category to describe those who understand and use technology but walk the middle ground between naysayers and instant adopters.

Although digitally savvy, the "digitally balanced" evaluate the risks of technology, weighing the benefits and costs to decide in which direction their digital initiative should take them.


It is important for businesses to have enough "digitally balanced" employees and the right mix of digital profiles, both in IT and in business.

Changing the way businesses work

Going digital also changes the way businesses work. This could range from big efficiency gains that allow employees to refocus their efforts to implementing whole new businesses processes and ways of engaging customers and employees.

Much work remains to be done on this front, so you’d better start soon before disruption hits you hard. This study from Capgemini Consulting and the MIT Center for Digital Business revealed that 70% of businesses use technology only as a substitute for previous analog processes. In other words, many are only digitizing old processes without adapting to the new world. Obviously, this unsophisticated approach hardly qualifies as using technology to its utmost advantage.


Let's take a look at a business that has been using digital to expand and innovate the customer engagement: Porsche.


Read more here:


10 things you should know about Travel and Expense Management. And why you should step up to the cloud to make business travel easier and more efficient for your employees and your back office.


(click on graphic to enlarge)



We invite you to our free webinar on Sept. 10th 10AM CEST (EMEA Timezone). Register here

Or visit us online on www.sap.com/cloudfortravel


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



SuccessFactors Metadata Framework (MDF)


SuccessFactors Metadata Framework (MDF) – is the new and upcoming Application Development Platform at SuccessFactors. Internally a number of SuccessFactors Applications like Employee Central, Time Off, and Position Management have been built on MDF. It has also been made available to external Customers and Partners who can use it to build their Customer Extensions.

In this blog we would like to share our experiences of building a sample application called "Asset Management System" through MDF. It should be noted that we didn’t have any prior knowledge of MDF before developing this application.

Asset Mangement System - Application Overview


Tracking and managing company assets (e.g. Laptops , Mobile  etc) is a business process that is often done by IT departments using separate systems outside of core HCM. The challenge is that HR often has no visibility to asset management or has to have separate integrations built to the system with the end users having separate log-ins and user experiences.

Through this App we showcase how the SuccessFactors MDF can be used to build an asset management application within the core HCM solution without the support of IT, expensive integrations and give the all users a consistent user experience governed by flexible business rules.

Broad use case


  • IT admin procures assets from the vendor
  • Manager / Employee needs to fill up the Asset Request Form
  • Asset Request needs to be approved by Manager
  • IT admin fulfills the Asset Request by issuing from stock available


Leveraging SuccessFactors Metadata Framework (MDF) to build application extensions


MDF offers solutions for all the three tiers – Data Model, Business Logic, UI that make up an application extension.

  • Using MDF we were able to quickly build the entities, entity relationships - the entire data model that was required for our  Asset Management System
  • MDF has an easy to use UI that allows us to define  objects, individual fields, field data types, associations
  • We  do not have to map the entities to a physical data table any more. No reason to write a SQL Stored procedure or SQL query. MDF manages all of that for  internally so all that we need to do is configure and define our objects. So we can define an entity and right the next minute start creating records for that entity
  • Creating entity relationships is also pretty easy. Also the data model is extensible. Hence we could easily build and extend these relationships as you go
  • Business Logic : Using MDF we could easily define the relevant logic, business validations, business processes through the Rules Engine and Workflow – including rules with multiple expressions
  • Role Based Permissions (RBP) and Security
    • Leveraging MDF and the Role Based Permissions (RBP) framework ,which is part of MDF ,we were easily able to achieve the required security and role permissions for the Asset Management application


  • We also needed Approval Processes to be incorporated into the Asset Management app e.g. approval required from concerned manager for asset request . This was easily achieved using the MDF Workflow , which is completely configurable
  • To provide the user interface(UI) for our Asset Management system  -we could achieve it using the cool and simple Configurable UI. We could easily configure our UI Pages to display all the required information
  • The Configurable UI is a simple to use UI Designer that let us drag and drop fields, arrange relevant fields together, define a cool UI layout. It allowed us to map the UI Controls to the entity fields without a single line of code

Highlights: key benefits from MDF in Asset Management System Application


We would like to highlight the following Key Benefits from developing Applications using MDF.


  1. Control - Configuration vs Code. No need to engage technical IT teams or vendors. HR Admins can build extensions themselves
  2. Speed & Quality - Savings in time, effort & money because through MDF the team can bypass the application development cycle. No technical testing required. Only functional testing needed
  3. Consistency in look and feel and behaviors since MDF is the same platform used by SuccessFactors internally for application development as well as provided to customers / partners for Customer Extensions
  4. Simplicity - Ease of maintenance. HR Admins can change their extensions to keep up with their changing business processes and use cases
  5. Future Proof – Incremental updates to the platform would not disrupt customer extensions



In a matter of 10 days the entire application - Asset Management System was built from scratch by a team of 3 members, and demoed at SAP flagship event of SAPPHIRE. All the team needed was a 1 day training on MDF and reference materials - MDF implementation guide and other online resources.

If this was developed with custom development, without MDF, it would have taken approximately 6 weeks (assuming that the team was new to this development environment). As such, the development time was reduced by 2 weeks using MDF, which is a significant reduction of about 67%.



  • MDF is a complete application development platform that allowed us to build application extensions end to end, right from defining the objects to implementing the business logic to creating the UIs
  • MDF is very intuitive and does not require any coding skills for development. As such, it is a good development platform whose time has come
  • Any person with an initial MDF training and the MDF documentation ( like MDF Implementation Guide etc) can get on board and start building apps using MDF
  • In conclusion MDF is a perfect platform to easily build and extend SuccessFactors applications

Innovation is a game changer. There’s a new sense of urgency. We are in the middle of a digital transformation and businesses need to face it – or get disrupted. One message that we hear repeatedly when co-innovating with enterprises across the globe is: “We need to accelerate the pace of change and innovation for us and for our clients.”


And at the heart of this change is the cloud.

DiglTrans1 copy.jpg

But what is digital transformation really about? Have we simply digitized by adopting technology without truly innovating the way we work? Let’s talk about what has changed in business and how a cloud-first and outcome-based approach can help.

Several quarters back, you might have been asking, “Who has a smartphone?” This question is no longer relevant – smartphones are a commodity. This single device has disrupted dozens of companies, enabled millions of applications, and blurred the line between home and work even more than the laptop before it.

For many, the smartphone is the portal to our lives. At the very least, smartphones make one thing clear: we want things instantly. We’ve seen a shift toward delivering outcomes and experiences, rather than features and functions, but I’ll discuss more about this in my next blog.

One big question comes up very often during discussions of digital transformation (#DigitalTransformation): Why is the consumer so much more powerful?

Well, a consumer in today’s network economy can perform tasks that only businesses could do five years ago. Businesses understand that they need to adapt or be disrupted. Think of Uber, Airbnb, and soon, Tesla.

See more via the video linked from my original blog on ZDNET here.

Now let's have a look at the factors without which digital transformation would be impossible to achieve:


The cloud is the innovation layer, the platform for rapid development and business transformation. We are coming to a subscription economy, where more and more will be delivered and consumed as a service. Consumers experienced this first and now it’s time for businesses – they expect outcomes, not products, and they need their services scalable, flexible, and elastic.


It is not about big, it is about right. Don't get me wrong – big can be important – but what really matters is what you do with it. The right data, at the right moment of the process, is key. We need the ability to handle structured and unstructured data, but more importantly, to transform it quickly into essential business insights.


This is part of the experience layer that creates a vibrant marketplace for your employees, partners, suppliers, customers (existing and potential), and the public. Collaboration inside and outside your company is essential for managing business transformation.


When it comes to devices, some only think of mobility, but it is so much more. We have officially entered a post-PC era. We now work and use several devices simultaneously. This will only intensify with the rising popularity of wearable devices like smart glasses, smart watches, smart tags, and so on. Though the Internet of Things is in its early stages, it is already disrupting traditional businesses. Just look at Tesla or the Google car to see what it is really about.

Cloud is impacting everything we do

Cloud computing is having a massive influence on every service, every product, and every user. What the cloud enables companies to do is to really place the customer and end user at the center of their business. With that, customers have the full flexibility to consume what they need, when they need it, and on a simplified, unified, real-time platform.

The distance between the engineer and the end user of the service is now dramatically reduced.

The result of this reduction in the distance between the engineer and the end user of a service is unmatched speed of innovation, simplicity, and reduced time to value.

How businesses can prepare for tomorrow

When businesses today want to outpace the disruption happening in the market, they need to equip themselves with technology that will help them adapt to change quickly - and the cloud is the spearhead of that. It’s not only cloud computing technology that is the driving force for business innovation; it is the advent of multiple disruptive technologies, like mobile, in-memory computing, and predictive analytics, coming together thanks to the cloud.

Starting with the cloud offers fast innovation tailored to specific business outcomes. Organizations must take advantage of the technology available to them and invest in it to keep their company at the forefront of the digital transformation happening today.

Stay tuned to this blog series about Digital Transformation, as we will share customer examples of transformation done right. Follow us via @SAPCloud and @SDenecken.


*This blog originally appeared on ZDNET

Many of you are likely to have questions about what is included or available options with the SAP Simple Finance offering. As a Product Marketing Director for SAP's cloud based solutions that focus on the Finance Line of Business, I wanted to post a short blog providing a perspective of what your organization could use and benefit from with the SAP Simple Finance offering. I hope this blog will also encourage you to post more questions in the comments for me and the experts to address.


So, what exactly is included in SAP Simple Finance?

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Based on SAP HANA, SAP Simple Finance is a new offering consisting of a set of end-to-end finance solutions delivered as easy to consume, yet comprehensive value packages covering the capabilities of the SAP Finance Value Map (depicted in the above image). For maximum choice and flexibility, SAP Simple Finance is offered with subscription pricing and can be deployed as a managed service via the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud. This set of finance solutions can also be connected to other cloud and on-premise applications in a hybrid deployment model, allowing customers to protect and extend their current IT investments. The set of solutions includes:


Base Package     
     (SAP ERP Foundation Extension, financials add-on for SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA)
Financial Planning and Analysis
     (including Planning and Reporting)

Accounting and Financial Close,

     (including Corporate Close, Financial Closing Cockpit, and Master Data Governance, Lease Administration by Nakisa)
Treasury and Financial Risk Management
     (including Treasury Operations, Treasury and Risk, Financial Services Network, and Commodity Risk Management)

Collaborative Finance Operations
     (including Receivables Management, Payables Management, Travel Management, and Shared Service Framework, Ariba Collaborative Finance)

Enterprise Risk and Compliance Management
     (including Risk Management, Fraud Management, and Audit Management)    


The offering can be connected  to the broad portfolio of public cloud applications from SAP for key lines of business such as human resources (HR), procurement, sales, service and marketing, as well as to the Ariba Network, enabling collaboration in the world’s largest trading community.


Common Questions:

I have heard others inquire if SAP Simple Finance is new code, or just a new provisioning of the SAP Value Map for Finance in SAP data centers. The answer is that SAP Simple Finance provides new code to customers in specific areas, for example in the financials add-on for SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA and in the new and planned finance applications based on the financials add-on (e.g. SAP Accounting powered by SAP HANA and SAP Cash Management powered by SAP HANA, etc.). In addition, SAP Simple Finance also contains all existing SAP Finance solutions that are available for deployment in the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud. This provides consistent finance solution scope and capability independent of the customer’s choice of deployment.


Another frequent question is the choice of the word "simple". Simple is not the first thing that springs to mind when we talk about enterprise-caliber finance solutions. We chose the word "Simple" to draw attention that we can now bring simplicity across the most complex finance tasks with the SAP Cloud powered by SAP HANA. SAP Simple Finance is also designed to provide the most simple experience for easy cloud adoption — from the discovery of the solution to the deployment, until the actual usage by finance users. By leveraging modern design principles, customers also have the option to deploy the SAP® Fiori® user experience for personalized, responsive and simple interactions across most common financial tasks.


Three minute Video on SAP Simple Finance:


I encourage you to watch this short video from SAPPHIRE NOW Orlando 2014 where Bill McDermott, Chief Executive Officer and Member of the Executive Board SAP, and Prof. Dr. h.c. Hasso Plattner, Chairman of the SAP Supervisory Board, discuss what are the innovative benefits that SAP Simple Finance can provide your organization:


While all the enterprise-caliber capabilities of the solutions in the SAP Finance Value map are still available, the internal accounting architecture, analytical methodology, discovery, consumption, on-boarding, configuration, packaging, and extensibility are and will continue to be radically simplified. By delivering easy-to-consume, and simply subscribed value packages and progressively applying more and more cloud capabilities to the set of solutions over time, SAP recognizes that cloud deployment and consumption of enterprise software will be the "new normal". Yet, SAP is moving beyond simple cloud enablement with SAP Simple Finance. We are delivering on all the benefits of the cloud (e.g. ease of deployment and consumption, etc.) while not compromising on SAP's traditional strengths of enterprise caliber breadth and depth, high degree of automation, globalization and industry support.


Some concrete examples such as: Intercompany reconciliations on the fly, integrated planning, cash management, real-time analysis, and reduced data footprint are explained in this recent blog: SAP Simple Finance - A more detailed look.  That blog really brings to life how this offering combines the breadth of robust processes addressing complex business requirements with a simplfied, innovative and easy to consume environment.


In summary: SAP Simple Finance makes the most complex finance functions and tasks simple to consume and perform while delivering sophisticated capabilities.  I encourage you to watch the video and visit sap.com/simple-finance to learn more.


That's all for now, I look forward to your questions!

Larry Ellison, Oracle CEO once famously ranted: "What the hell is Cloud Computing?!"

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In fact, if you were to run a Google Search for "Larry Ellison Cloud" - it will be the first result returned, from almost 6 years ago.


However, we should not be mistaken as his rant was not due to dumbfounded unfamiliarity, it was due to the fact the term "Cloud Computing" was starting to become the latest buzz word, used by many software companies, and ultimately its definition had become fuzzy.


This caused multiple definitions of the word: "Cloud" in computing terms.  Ask five people to define "Cloud", you receive six different answers.


This post aims to dissect the term as it pertains to Public Cloud Applications and highlight the reasons as to why the market is being driven towards the Cloud.


Three Key Terms


There are three key terms to remember as it relates to the Public Cloud: 'Cloud' itself, 'SaaS' and 'Multi-Tenancy'.  Let's cover each aspect:


1 - Cloud

“Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction”


This is a fair statement. However has this model of application delivery not been in practice for many years, decades in-fact?  Client-Server applications, Application Service Providers (ASPs) and Browser-based applications have been around for a long time - are they not Cloud also?  According to the definition above, yes they can be deemed as so.


Of course, the Cloud deployment models add complexity to the definition.  Terms such as Hybrid Cloud, Private or Managed Cloud will be covered in future posts.


2 - Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

"Software as a service is a software licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted."


Applications that can be subscribed are in use in our every day lives and are not uncommon. The SaaS model represents a significant shift in the way companies acquire and consume software applications.


Applications that traditionally may have only been available to large Enterprise companies are now consumable by small-medium businesses.  Rather than paying up-front for large enterprise licenses, companies can effectively subscribe to software on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis for a contracted period of time - on an operating budget as opposed to a depreciated capital budget.


This allows the Line of Business to gain significant value in obtaining applications that add strategic execution value - delivered efficiently as described within a previous post: Moving to the Cloud - What Changes with Consulting?


With that said, this is still nothing new. What is the true game-changing nature of Cloud?  Read on:


3 - Multi-Tenancy - Game Changer


Whereas the software architecture used by most ASPs mandated maintaining a separate instance of the application (including application and database layers) for each company, a true Cloud, SaaS application should utilise a multi-tenant architecture, in which the application serves multiple companies and users from a single code-line and database structure, and partitions its data and logic accordingly.


To clearly define Multi-Tenancy, we can use the analogy of a block of apartments:



ComparativeAn Apartment BlockMulti-Tenant SaaS Application
ArchitectOne architect, used to design the structureDesigned by one software vendor. e.g.: SAP
DeveloperOne property developer, used to build the structureDeveloped by one software vendor e.g.: SAP
MaintenanceOne maintenance crew, used to maintain the building and associated servicesMaintained and supported by the software vendor e.g.: SAP
FoundationBuilt on one one foundationBuilt on a single platform e.g.: SAP's HANA Cloud Platform
StructureOne single high-rise structureOne single application - one code-line e.g.: SAP Cloud for HR
Utilities One utility infrastructure providing Gas/Electricity, Energy and WaterOne (or more) Cloud Vendor Data Centers providing power, processors, bandwidth, storage, memory and redundancy e.g.: SAP Data Center
TenantsMultiple tenants residing within one blockMultiple customers residing within one Multi-Tenant framework
ConfigurationsEach apartment is different due to internal layout, decor, flooring, appliances and accessories - configured to the tenant's requirementsEach customer's application instance has differing look and feel, branding, workflows, templates, forms and logic - configured to the customer's business requirements


It is a simple comparitive analogy however very effective, especially when we consider the benefits of the Apartment Block Tenant, the Multi-Tenant SaaS Application Customer and Software Vendor:


Key Benefits for the Apartment Block Tenant


  • Predictable Fees and Expenses
    • One moving in fee, and one recurring rental fee
  • Total Cost of Ownership and Time to Relaxation
    • It is cheaper, quicker and more efficient to rent an apartment, as opposed to buying or building their own house.
  • Flexibility
    • It increases the tenant's flexibility to move as and when their circumstances change - increasing size, decreasing size or moving to a new location.


Key Benefits for the Multi-Tenant SaaS Customer


  • Predictable Fees and Expenses
    • One initial implementation fee and one recurring subscription fee
  • Lower Total Cost of Ownership and Faster Time to Value
    • It is cheaper, quicker and more efficient to subscribe to a SaaS application, as opposed to buying, installing and deploying or building their own software,  whilst delivering time-to-value. No IT hardware, hosting, perpetual licenses, or resourcing issues.
  • Increased Agility
  • Faster and Frequent Innovation
    • Always on the latest version of the application, benefiting from frequent and rapid innovations and keeping up-to-date with the latest technology, features and functions - typically all included within one recurring subscription fee.


Despite these benefits, companies may still have concerns about moving to the Cloud. We address the key concerns in this post, as part of the Moving to the Cloud series.


Key Benefits for the Multi-Tenant SaaS Application Vendor


  • Economies of Scale
    • As the SaaS Vendor does not have to build, maintain and support multiple application instances for every single customer (potentially thousands), a proportionate saving in costs is gained. Upgrades of every single customer tenant can take place in one day.
  • Research & Development
    • Due to the significant reduction in costs, the SaaS Vendor is able to divert investment into application R&D, delivering rapid and frequent innovation to their customers.  In addition, customers can contribute towards future innovation by providing feedback and ideas towards product strategy.  Should these ideas be applied, they would not only benefit the customer suggesting it, but every customer within the vendor's subscription base.
  • Infrastructure Scalability
    • True Multi-Tenant Architectures and Data Centers are built in order to scale.  Due to significant redundancy, the acquisition of a customer with hundreds, or thousands of users does not impact performance.  Simply by increasing hardware provisions (storage, memory, processing power, bandwidth etc), further scale can be applied to accommodate an expanding cloud user-base.
  • Barriers to Purchasing
    • With lower, predictable and transparent and financial commitment from the customer, less IT dependency and shorter time to value, typical customer purchasing bottlenecks and barriers are reduced.


Companies typically ask me how they can be sure an application adopts true multi-tenancy, in order to reap the benefits described: The question to ask a software vendor is:

"What % of your customers are on the latest version of your software?"

If the answer is less than 100%, it is not multi-tenant.

Combining the three key terms: Cloud (Remote computing delivery model), SaaS (subscription model), and Multi-Tenancy (economies of scale) provides significant differentiators against traditional on-premise applications and brings a multitude of benefits that is driving an entire industry towards the Cloud.

The next post of this series will delve further into why market momentum is shifting towards Cloud.


Kunal Pandya is a Senior Director at SAP, responsible for the Global Cloud Solution Center, enabling and evangelising Cloud to SAP's Partner Ecosystem.

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With rapid adoption and migration to the Cloud, comes changes to how we run and manage our businesses.

In this post, we look at changes for Cloud Vendors, and Reseller Partners as it relates to Consulting and Implementation Engagements. The key comparative areas being:

**EDIT** As quite rightly pointed out by one particular reader, I should clarify that the points mentioned below refer more so to Multi-Tenant SaaS applications than general Cloud:


AreaThe Traditional On-Premise ModelWhat Changes with Cloud?
FeesProjects are based on a one-time Time & Materials basis typically with  unpredictable costs of implementation.

Projects can be delivered on a Fixed Fee basis – thereby significantly lowering and providing predictable services fees.

Project Fees can also be billed on a recurring basis to cater for ongoing customer engagement and frequent innovation cycles.

DurationProjects can last for years.Cloud projects are measured in weeks, not months or years, providing a faster time-to-value.
LocationOnsite Consulting with associated additional expenses.With no onsite hardware with installed software, an effective virtual approach can be taken to streamline project costs and bottlenecks.
Software TailoringExtensive application customisation and associated ongoing maintenance costs.Focus on best practice, packaged Configuration versus customisation.
RequirementsStart with customer requirements and define a one-off solution.Start with customer requirements and always leverage best practices for reusability
Resource AllocationLarge Implementation teams varied and unpredictable experience levels – all billing the clientFocused team with functional depth and experience
UtilisationConsultants are incented to bill hours (and keep utilisation high)Consultants focused on implementing efficiently with high quality and customer satisfaction, and multi-task on multiple-projects.

The Cloud Subscription Renewal Model changes the game as far as Customer success is concerned. A customer centric approach is critical towards winning in the Cloud.

"68% of companies are more likely to have a marginal project or outright failure than a success due to the way they approach business requirements analysis"

          - Tech Republic

This places further emphasis on ensuring best-in-class solution delivery in order to maximise Cloud customer retention. 

Ultimately, the impact and knock-on effect of project implementation failure can be seen as one of the key reasons a company may choose not to renew their Cloud subscription.


Kunal Pandya is a Senior Director at SAP, responsible for the Global Cloud Solution Center, enabling and evangelising Cloud to SAP's Partner Ecosystem.

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"We have concerns about moving our applications to the Cloud"


This is a statement I have heard countless times from businesses large and small.  This post explores the key concerns, and addresses SAP's solution.


Concern 1: "Is the Cloud as secure as hosting applications in-house?"

Quite possibly the single largest concern about moving to the Cloud. The common myth with IT Security Leaders is that hosting software in-house, is more secure than hosting in a controlled Public Cloud. And this reminds me of a tweet I recently came across:


The fact is, there are not too many companies in the world who have invested over 40 years of experience and expertise into security.  SAP's Cloud complies with the toughest and most vigourous certifications and independent audits.


  • Professional hackers are contracted to test and harden the infrastructure
  • Prospective Customers are able to review data centres - including certifications, and audit reports (under non-disclosure)
  • The largest banking institutions, government agencies and security companies are using SAP's Cloud today - this is by far the biggest ratification of the Cloud.


Operating a data center usually does not fall under a given company's core area of expertise. Increasingly, these companies are asking themselves which services should be run in the cloud. Ultimately, having invested €millions into it's data centres on a continual basis, SAP's Cloud Infrastructure is as secure, as if your company had an unlimited budget.


Learn more about SAP's Data Centers here: SAP Datacenter


Concern 2: "What does SAP know about the Cloud?"

SAP's Cloud consists of over 35 million paying subscribers.  There is no other Cloud Vendor on the planet with more paying subscribers to their cloud.


Typically, we think of Consumer Cloud applications such LinkedIn or Facebook who combined have over 1 billion subscribers - but how many of those subscribers pay for the service?  Not more than 35 million. We also think of companies such as Salesforce.com or Workday - again, not close to 35 million.


"But what does 35 million paying subscribers actually mean?":


No software vendor can reach 35m paying subscribers by accident.  In order to do so, they must have:


  • Best in Class Solutions
  • Best in Class Infrastructure
  • Best in Class Security
  • Best in Class Quality Assurance
  • Best in Class Partners
  • Best in Class PEOPLE


With YOY triple-digit growth in the Cloud, SAP is not only a leader in the Cloud, it is THE leader in the Cloud.


Concern 3: "Can customers in the same cloud view each others data?"


Multi-tenancy is a game changer, not only by providing significant economies of scale, but also increasing the rate of product innovation to not only match, but usually exceed customer's expectations.


In a public, controlled cloud, customers share a pool of computing, network, memory and storage resources. As these physical resources are shared, a common concern is that cloud customers are more easily subjected data dilution between customers using the same service.


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The fact is, it is impossible for customer data to be exposed to another customer within a multi-tenant controlled cloud environment - such as SAP's. Even while all customers share the same infrastructure and binary code of the application, the data is always kept separate in Memory as well as within the Database.  In-fact SAP's Cloud Applications have been built from the ground-up as multi-tenant applications ensuring strict segregation architecture and best practices.  Strong login credentials or even Single-Sign-On capabilities protect the regular access to the application.


Concern 4: "We must host our applications within our country's borders"

In light of the Edward Snowden revelations of widespread surveillance by the National Security Agency, the response from many IT Leaders will increasingly be that they are indeed uncomfortable with the loss of control over their data. In recent months, many countries have begun to explore mandating local cloud providers to ensure that domestic data stays in the country.


This can be considered a show-stopper.  But is it?  I have heard IT Security Leaders raise this as a concern, but it's legitimacy can be questioned upon further detailed research.

The fact is, SAP's Controlled Cloud complies with the most stringent laws, certifications and data protection provisions. Data from cloud customers falls under the jurisdiction selected by the customer and IS NOT forwarded to third parties. SAP’s support services ensure that data protection is also maintained during required maintenance operations.

SAP's Cloud data is not stored “somewhere in the cloud,” but in clearly agreed-upon locations. SAP cloud customers specify in their contract which data center they want to use as the “data location.” No one has blanket access to the data, and comprehensive audits ensure that all technical and organisational measures are complied with and implemented.

Concern 5: "We just don't want to lose control of our applications"

Whilst the tide is turning, there will be companies and IT Leaders who are unwilling to take the leap into the Cloud. There may be genuine concerns, however I typically find this is more of an emotional response - especially in recent times.

We must be mindful of the fact that 'moving to a vendor's cloud' equates to outsourcing.  The traditional CIO and CTO's role is changing from being builders of business technology, to enablers and drivers of business strategy. The era of Cloud Computing, where the business leader brings new software and technology to the enterprise, means IT leaders need to hone new skills or risk being relegated to the role of IT order-taker.

In addition, due to the ease of adoption and consumption of Cloud applications, Line of Business (LoB) leaders are beginning to play an even bigger role in the procurement process.  IDC estimate by 2016, 80% of IT decisions will involve the LoB, and 53% of IT decisions will be lead by LoB.

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Because CIOs and CTOs face competition in such completely new ways, they have to be much more responsive and agile in proving their value and worth. They must be better intermediaries in dealing with the variety of cloud services available today, and add value by coming up with a more responsive set of services and better overall value for the company - aligned to corporate strategies.

This significance of this change can bring an emotional response against Cloud, and we must be mindful of this.

However, moving to the Cloud does not mean the end of in-house development. It is vital for IT leaders to understand that the Cloud is not entirely replacing internal infrastructure, but augmenting it. It is due to this, businesses may need greater application development expertise across a broader range of skill sets, not necessarily less. Internal software engineers and developers must possess skills that span both the cloud and on-premise resources, securing and leveraging the opportunities inherent with Cloud without giving up the traditional processes that differentiate and deliver competitive advantage.

The Cloud is here, and adoption and migration continues to grow at a rapid pace.  These key concerns must be met with empathy and a consistent, researched response in order to obtain the key sponsorship that will be required to support adoption.

Kunal Pandya is a Senior Director at SAP, responsible for the Global Cloud Solution Center, enabling and evangelising Cloud to SAP's Partner Ecosystem.

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