My bet is on the HANA Cloud Platform
Recently, we’ve seen Thorsten Franz betting his livelihood on the convergence of OLTP and OLAP into one transparent system. Preferably on HANA. I strongly believe in this concept and I’m sure that he will succeed. Where Thorsten leaves it in the middle whether that HANA box will be on-premise, or in the Cloud, I’m willing to go even a step further and claim that the entire future of SAP products lies on the HANA Cloud Platform.
That doesn’t mean that on-premise solutions are going to disappear any time soon. I’m pretty sure that, 10 years from now, many companies will still be running trusty ECC8.x instances on-premise, just like there are still IBM Mainframes around. But I think that the real future, the strategic direction, is with the HANA Cloud Platform.
[To illustrate this, add some *Zing* and because it’s popular to post cat pictures, here’s a picture of a cat guarding your datacenter in the cloud, opposed to a cat guarding your ERP system in your bassment.]
We’ve already witnessed how SAP has ported their ERP and CRM systems onto HANA, but we’ve also heard them say that HANA is not just about speed, it’s also about simplification. What better opportunity to simplify than to start with a white sheet of paper? Forget about the legacy for a second, and just create new business applications, from scratch, leveraging the power of a completely “new” platform. SAP already knows the business process through and through, now translate it into a simple straightforward solution, without pulling all sorts of tricks and gimmicks to optimize performance.
Forgetting about all the legacy is of course a bold move which will make a lot of customers feel uncomfortable. So that’s probably not going to happen overnight. SAP will probably come up with an ABAP Runtime on top of the HANA Cloud Platform. Why else appoint Bjoern Goerke as head of the HANA Enterprise Cloud, and why else have they got their ABAP based solutions running on HEC with a Fiori front-end? Ultimately HANA Enterprise Cloud and the HANA Cloud platform will converge one way or another. It only makes sense.
Meanwhile though, I’m convinced that the bright brains at SAP are hard at work to create new business apps on top of the HANA Cloud Platform, completely omitting all the middle layers and using either the XS runtime or the NEO/Java Runtime. It might not look anything like the business suite we know it today. It might be more of an app store where you can buy certain business processes that are deployed on your cloud, and which you can freely extend and integrate.
A bit like the OnDemand solutions. Which are running on the Hana Cloud Platform already. Like SuccessFactors which can be extended via the HCP. Like many of the startup initiatives that will use the HCP…
Not only will this simplify your landscape. It will also solve many other issues. You can finally get rid of the SAPGUI, as all these applications will be browser-based. You’ll also have mobile abilities out of the box. (with the m.SAPUI5 library) You don’t have to worry about the physical network as much anymore. Just hook up your employees to the internet, provide them with the right credentials/certificates and go.
I believe that the (converged) HANA Cloud Platform will be the main focus for SAP in the years to come. Everything else might still evolve a bit, but will eventually become legacy. ABAP will probably also make the jump onto the HANA Cloud Platform as a runtime, but if I would have to advice a rookie on which career to take, I would tell him to focus on the XS runtime and the NEO runtime.
Now I know that this is just my belief and that there is no official statement from SAP on such strategy, but if you read the signs, it’s pretty clear we’re moving in that direction. I think I’ll hop on for the ride early to get a good seat.