Last week, a series of new Big Data applications (Customer Engagement Intelligence solutions) from SAP were made available for customers.
What was interesting about the announcement was the use of the HANA Enterprise Cloud (HEC):
SAP is making the offerings available for productive and prototype deployments through the SAP HANA(R) Enterprise Cloud service and is providing free 30-day trials through the recently launched SAP HANA(R) Marketplace.
Usually, the HANA Enterprise Cloud is connected with cloud-based Business Suite, BW and now CRM installations. I’ve already blogged about the possibility of using Hadoop in the HEC but as I started examining these new HEC-based applications in more detail, I was reminded of SAP’s idea of cloud-based extensions (here is the description of the HR-related extensions).
SAP and SuccessFactors, an SAP company, today announced the availability of the SAP HANA Cloud Platform, extension package for SuccessFactors, making it easier than ever for customers, partners and developers to extend deployments, build entirely new applications and enable new processes that meet their unique business needs. [SOURCE]
Usually, such extensions are associated with the HANA Cloud Platform
As part of SAP’s unified cloud strategy, all line-of-business cloud applications will ultimately move to SAP HANA Cloud Platform. Purpose-built line-of-business cloud applications from SAP use SAP HANA Cloud Platform for integration and extensibility to provide maximum flexibility and simplicity for business and IT users alike. [SOURCE]
These new Big Data applications, however, were based on the HANA Enterprise Cloud. What was going on here?
Note: Some might suggest that I’m comparing apples and oranges – “extensions” and “applications”. Yet the distinction between the two entities is largely a definitional one. Both HEC-based applications and HCP-based extensions extended the functionality of other applications.
Based on the realization that they were similar but still different, I wanted to depict how they related to one another and their respective environments.
I defined the HEC-based applications as “internal extensions” inasmuch as they exist in the same space as the applications they extend. I defined the HCP-based extensions as “external extensions” inasmuch as the applications that they extend are present externally / in a different space (either OnPremise or in another cloud).
Although both platforms can be used to extend other assets, there are still distinctions between them. For example, only SAP can currently create extensions / applications on HEC while anyone (partners, developers, etc) can create extensions on HCP. My assumption is that the new CEI applications are also managed by SAP and enjoy the other benefits (SLA, rapid on-boarding, associated consulting services, etc) provided by the Managed Services aspects of the platform. The advantages associated with the fact that SAP controls all aspects of this scenario (extended applications and extensions) is demonstrated by the ability to quickly create a cloud-based test environment for these applications.
The free trial version of SAP CEI covers the SAP Audience Discovery & Targeting part of the application. In order to get to know the capabilities of the entire SAP CEI suite, you have the possibility to start a pilot project running in the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud. Within the pilot project, you can run the application with your own business data without investments in hardware. The cloud system is ready to use within a couple of days. [SOURCE]
Currently, a similar functionality isn’t possible with HCP-based extensions.
The fact that there are two cloud-based “extension” platforms for SAP applications is troubling in that disturbs the clear message that previously suggested that HCP was THE extensions platform. I’m vaguely reminded of the old HANA App Cloud and the unpleasant / harmful impact it had on SAP’s HANA Cloud strategy.
The next step in this evolution is the definition of what extension scenarios are appropriate for each platform.
I’ve been describing the HCP and HEC as separate entities, yet a recent intriguing tweet from Matthias Steiner suggests that this assumption might be wrong.
I’ll leave it to my readers to consider the very interesting implications of this possibility.