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At SAPPHIRENOW Orlando, co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe laid out his concise vision of the future of the software industry, and how SAP’s strategy aligns to the themes of mobility, cloud, and in-memory computing  – a powerful combination that we are just scratching the surface of. In particular, many in the audience may have been surprised by Jim’s statement regarding the cloud: that in less than 5 years, “…everything is cloud…private or public…” and that how the word “cloud” itself would cease to be a buzz word, since it will just be the way things get done. I couldn’t agree more, as this was one of my main areas of discussion on the radio show ‘In the Cloud with Game-Changers’, just prior to SAPPHIRENOW.

So if cloud is the future, what do users need to do today to remain competitive and agile in this environment?

Lars Dalgaard, who manages SAP’s newly formed Cloud business unit and remains CEO of SuccessFactors, an SAP company, mentioned during his main Sapphire session that a set of loosely coupled SaaS solutions will arrive from SAP, extending and complementing SAP’s core competencies for delivering strategic, core-industry solutions on-premise.

This approach really hits the mark, since SAP SaaS solutions will be very easy to deploy and use with a level of integration that will improve their value and data consistency versus stand alone “SaaS Silos,” while not bogging them down in complexity. On the other hand, what about enterprise solutions today that must go well beyond the configuration available in SaaS? In this middle path, where companies require solutions that not only provide standard functionality quickly, but also support customization, complex industry functionality and high transactional volumes; is there not an opportunity to leverage the cloud here, too?

Since their launch in late 2010, SAP Rapid Deployment solutions have transformed what was once a slow, and at times, expensive process to implement SAP software, into modular solutions that are fast and simple for the customer, yet addresses very specific business needs across all areas of SAP. In fact, looking at one of SAP’s big innovation areas, SAP HANA, approximately one-third of live customers have gotten there with a rapid-deployment solution!

Now, SAP can deliver rapid-deployment solutions, leveraging the power of the cloud. Through Cloud-based Quick Start, customers can leverage a SAP private cloud to accelerate their rapid-deployment solution implementation, using their own data, in a secure, sandbox environment. This allows the customer to fine-tune standard processes delivered by the rapid-deployment solution, and then customize and extend the remaining ~20-30% of a solution that will bring added value and differentiation. Then once testing in the cloud is complete, the solution is migrated to the productive environment, either on-premise or in a partner/customer private cloud, thanks to cloud logistics through SAP Services or partner.

Following Jim Hagemann Snabe’s line of thought, it could be possible that customers will have a mix of private and public cloud solutions, depending on the functional needs, leveraging a set of SAP core industry and rapid-deployment solutions through a private cloud, and more standard, peripheral SaaS through the SAP Cloud, all with a seamless look and flow, thanks to SAP’s continued investments in SAP Netweaver Cloud, and its open middleware strategy. This would truly be the best of both worlds!

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