In my recent blog I talked about the fact that mission-critical functionality can’t be left behind when moving to the cloud. Every industry, whether it’s manufacturing, travel, retail, or aerospace, has unique requirements that aren’t always met by general cloud solutions. Plus, almost every company has built unique business processes that have traditionally separated it from the competition. The value of this functionality is priceless and core to a business’s success – and it can’t be just left behind on premise. So here’s the million dollar question: How do customers leverage the benefits of moving their key business processes to the cloud to improve business outcomes today and continue to innovate and transform for the future?
The technology behind the last mile
All Saas solutions offer a minimum of customization to adapt the solution to customers need. SAP Business ByDesign and SAP Cloud for Customer offer two ways to extending the application: A Key User Tool and a Software Development Kit (SDK) previously known as Partner Development Infrastructure (PDI) – see also this “How-to guide” describing both options in detail. To configure and extend SuccessFactors solutions the “Meta-Data Framework” (MDF) can be used – this SCN blog by Luke Marson provides an overview on MDF for those of you wanting to get a deeper insight.
What all these tools have in common is that they allow customers IT or the Business User to adapt the solutions without long intensive training – no need to engage a 3rd Party and spent a lot of money. On the other hand cloud-based solutions are by nature limited when it comes to individualization and supporting specific business requirements beyond a certain level. To be able to build and deploy rich extensions, there is a need for an extensibility layer. Within this added layer of development, valuable, mission critical business functionality can be fully realized and the promise of the cloud can become a reality.
Building rich functional cloud extensions – Why PaaS ?
To avoid disruptions of the underlying core cloud solution allowing seamless regular updates, rich and complex custom-tailored extensions needs to be build outside, decoupled from the core solution. Extensibility is managed in a dedicated, separate cloud infrastructure offered in a platform as a service (PaaS) model where the SaaS business objects are accessed via public APIs. As PaaS and cloud application are different solutions with distinct databases, they do not share the same data objects. SAP HANA Cloud Platform (HCP) is SAPs PaaS offering. It offers
- a design time environment to develop cloud applications
- an enterprise-scale runtime environment to run the applications
PaaS solutions like HCP support three major business scenarios:
- New innovative cloud applications supporting customers to e.g. establish new business model and enter new markets
- Easy-to-use cloud applications extending on-premise to support the end-users need for consumer-like business apps while running complex business processes in the on-premise backend
- Rich cloud solutions extending the functionality of existing SaaS solutions to fulfill unique business process requirements. The Extension Package for SuccessFactors is an example of such an extension providing out-of-the-box abilities to build cloud solutions extending extend Success Factors Employee Central (EC) core functionality
I strongly recommend reading the blog “SAPHANA Cloud Platform – setting the stage” from SAP Cloud guru and evangelist Matthias Steiner for an overview on what HCP is all about and what it offers to customers and partners.
Get started on the last mile now…
For organizations that want to move to the cloud, there is no reason to wait! Having laid the foundation on how this goal technically can be achieved, my next blog will cover design and build of these applications in more detail and how SAP is scaling up its development resources to help customers to accelerate their journey to the cloud.
Let me know your thoughts and stay tuned!