SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud has been launched earlier this year following extensive work on Peta-byte scale SAP HANA infrastructure in our labs, working together with customers and partners. The outcome is a robust and elastic cloud based approach to managing mission critical SAP ERP or CRM systems that are powered by SAP HANA. – Being part of the launch team and closely involved with the offering, I like to explain some of the key qualities and differentiating characteristics of the offering in this blog.
SAP’s unique position in the cloud market
Transforming SAP into more and more of a cloud company is part of the strategic goals at SAP. Acquisitions of SuccessFactors and Ariba have clearly set the stage and are tightly related to our existing enterprise application business as opposed to entering any un-related cloud markets.
The same applies to SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud, which simply stated consists of:
- A breakthrough cloud infrastructure (previously known as “petabyte farm”), that is rethought for in-memory architecture and optimized for modern trends in storage, networking and compute layers
- A breakthrough cloud platform, SAP HANA Cloud Platform, as the foundation to run modern applications and analytics
- Running mission critical applications such as SAP Business Suite, SAP Business Warehouse and several big data applications delivered as a managed cloud service. These services help customers assess, migrate and run rich applications with cloud simplicity
The combination of these three ingredients adds up to unique benefits for our customers:
First, a customer no longer needs to choose between leveraging SAP HANA to gain real-time business advantage or move applications to the cloud for increased IT simplicity. Now customers can have both.
Second, the additional choice of a cloud deployment model for SAP HANA is just one of several additional options to accelerate the journey to becoming a real time business. For example, starting an SAP HANA based system in our cloud and then later bringing the final solution back on premise or moving into a hybrid deployment model (test and dev in the cloud and prod on-premise) are all available choices. Especially the related managed services offering, described further below, makes a strong case for such a scenario. Net net, we can bring customers productive in a much shorter period of time and then run the infrastructure in an elastic fashion.
Third, the entire offering is backed by SAP’s experience in managing and supporting mission critical systems in a continuous fashion including high availability (HA) and disaster recovery (DR), resulting in an overall turnkey solution.
Customer requirements for SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud
Before going into detailed capabilities, I like to first share what customer input and feedback we have gathered before and since launching the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud offering. This feedback was used in defining and building out the offering. And not to lead with the conclusion, some of these customer expectations and requirements are opposed to purist cloud views. However, not every cloud is alike and a solution always has to follow the use case. In the case of SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud, the use case is to run mission critical business systems that form the logistical backbone of often multi-billion companies.
Single vs multi-tenancy
Multi tenancy is part of one of the five cloud criteria in the NIST cloud definition and a standard element of a single point of view type application like SuccessFactors or Salesforce. It makes a lot of sense and is technically feasible.
For the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud use case of providing highly customer specific SAP systems in the cloud, multi-tenancy is not preferred by our customers and is technically challenging to achieve. Reason being that despite SAP delivering standard software with standard functionality, most customers have made the solution even better through adaptations (and worse in terms of things like upgrades and multi-tenancy). But this is the nature of the beast and stops nobody to move to a cloud based model as long as the cloud delivers the overall value.
Customer’s preference for single isolated tenancy did not surprise anybody at SAP. Please also read this blog on the same point by industry expert Dennis Howlett.
Built-in upgrade to the latest release version
The second key customer feedback however did surprise me and my colleagues a little, especially the firmness in this statement: Customers do want to be in control of the upgrade cycle of their system and NOT be automatically upgraded to the latest release level. Period. – Hence, despite the fact that large SAP upgrades are a thing of the past for many of our customers by applying smaller support packs in an ongoing fashion and our readiness to offer this as a built-in service in SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud, our customers told us to definitely not make this the default. So we listened, the customer stays in control of his timeline, but once he pulls the trigger for a smaller or larger upgrade, our industrialized approach guides the process with maximum speed and efficiency.
What sets HANA Enterprise Cloud apart is its focus on real-time computing based on the SAP HANA platform. This is where SAP excels and no other vendor has the combined experience of in-memory compute resources, SAP HANA database, business applications, services and mission critical support. This is our sweet spot and the value defined for our customers is not only defined by the value the cloud brings, but the value of moving to a real-time business model with SAP HANA and making the most out of this opportunity. How do we give customers maximum freedom to focus on their business while we focus on their systems?
Reducing lower level IT effort and focusing it on business innovation instead is one of the big cloud goals and where SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud shines. We are offering our customers the richest, most relevant and effective “factory” like services in the industry. On the lower end, we can migrate an existing SAP ERP system to SAP HANA within one to five business days. And while in a day we cannot provide a fully corrected and tested HANA based system, this helps our customers to take most of the guess work out of planning a complicated system migration project. Hence, it saves customers weeks to month of valuable time.
On the high end, we are able to build highly customer specific pre-configured systems including industry specific content, best practice content as well as existing customer master data and process configurations. This creates the ideal starting point for any net new SAP HANA customer or for some of our customers that are radically re-thinking their existing business processes. – Time to set this up is between one to four weeks, which for a complex ERP system is extremely cloudy.
Pooled elastic resources
SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud consists of possible the largest single pool of in-memory compute capacity. Based on SAP Cloud Frame, our cloud management tool (see graphic and topic of a future blog), we are able to dynamically allocate resources and assemble them into a customer cloud cell within minutes. We can do this across any type of in-memory server independent of brand, make or generation. This combined with our Software Defined Network (SDN), we can provide the appropriate network bandwidth in an elastic fashion as well.
From a business cycle point of view, our customer can come up with their own demand plan according to their business cycles that we will then automatically provision for them or can choose defined system load thresholds to kick off automatic provisioning additional compute and storage capacity.
Diagram: API driven cloud management tool SAP Cloud Frame
Mission critical support
Lastly, we take care of your system and you can almost treat it as a black box. We will monitor health and performance in a 24×7 fashion including clearly defined SLAs, high availability, disaster recovery and mission critical support. SLA based performance of your system and as well as our management activities are reported back to you in the customer’s desired frequency.
SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud is a huge step in reducing time and effort it takes to manage a mission critical business application like SAP ERP as well as related migration to SAP HANA. It provides the key cloud value proposition of speed and flexibility AND provides an overall platform that enable business at the speed of thought. HANA Enterprise Cloud customers are in a unique position to turn the time and effort saved by the cloud and turning it into tangible business differentiation and innovation in the real-time business world.
Please share your thoughts or questions on general cloud topics, SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud or any other related topic. I will make sure to reply!