Skip to Content
Author's profile photo Former Member

Back to Basics: Understanding SAP’s Cloud Offerings

Back to Basics: Understanding SAP’s Cloud Offerings

I’m lucky. I get to talk to customers on a regular basis. The cloud dominates many of those conversations and one key question tends to come up over and over again: “I’m overwhelmed by the number of cloud options and solutions available. How can my organization transition to the cloud with SAP?”

My answer is always the same: how you get to the cloud differs depending on your starting point.

For example, SAP has customers who’ve invested 40+ years with our on premise offerings and now want to move these mission critical applications, like ERP and BW, to the cloud. We also have customers who simply want to build or run innovative applications in the cloud to better meet their customers’ needs.

To ensure we address the broad range of customer requirements that exist, SAP offers a full range of cloud solutions that I’ll discuss below. But before I do, I’d like to make sure we’re all on the same page when it comes to common cloud terminology. The easiest way to take you through it is by using my favorite analogy, pizza:

  • Infrastructure as a Platform (IaaS) is akin to ‘‘Take and Bake’. The vendor supplies your pizza fully assembled but uncooked. So you take it home, bake it and serve it.
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS) is more like ‘Pizza Delivery’. The pizza is delivered baked to your home and you serve it up.
  • Software as a Service (SaaS) can be viewed as ‘Eating Out’. You go to a restaurant, order what you want and eat it. No dishes and no preparation—the vendor takes care of everything.

(Thanks to Albert Barron for the pizza as a service idea)…

It’s a pretty simple but logical way to think about common cloud offerings. Now with that in mind, let’s take a look at the range of SAP cloud options available today:

  1. For customers who are running on premise SAP applications like ERP or BW, and who want maximum control and customization when moving these mission critical systems to run in the cloud, we offer a private managed cloud environment—the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud (HEC)—which is run in SAP’s trusted data centers. This is our IaaS offering.
  2. For customers who want to get started in the cloud quickly and easily with pre-built, standard business applications, we offer a number of SaaS applications focused on HR, finance, procurement, etc., that are fully baked and ready to use. These include SAP SuccessFactors, Concur, Ariba and many other next generation apps covering a multitude of customer needs.
  3. And for those customers who prefer to build and run custom cloud applications, extend the functionality of their on premise or existing cloud applications, we offer our PaaS solution, the SAP HANA Cloud Platform (HCP).

It’s important to note that all the cloud offerings listed above run on one common cloud infrastructure to ensure a unified and integrated cloud environment.

How is SAP Different from Other Cloud Players?

From a SaaS perspective, SAP has the broadest cloud capability end-to-end. Other, mostly niche, players do not have SAP’s proven track record of bringing solutions to the enterprise nor do they have the breadth, reach or coverage across industries. We leverage the most modern design paradigms and in-depth industry knowledge to give customers the best cloud applications on the market.

This also holds true when comparing SAP to many traditional IaaS vendors who tend to offer a general purpose (commodity) infrastructure play and compete solely on cost of HW. To get to the cloud, you must consider your end-to-end journey, not just the cost of buying hardware. How you get your business to the cloud, what you do with it, the types of workloads you run, etc. are not really addressed. That’s where SAP differs – we’ve thought through everything customers are going to need to set up their own cloud infrastructure and we tackle their landscape complexities up front, eliminating hidden costs. I like to call this the SAP white glove treatment.

Another key differentiator is our robust cloud platform, HCP. What makes it so robust? HCP comes with the full range of database and application services, including the powerful in-memory SAP HANA database, needed to build world-class and data intensive apps. In addition, we have built many of our cloud apps on HCP and will continue to do so in the future. We also give customers the ability to change, extend and modify those apps. That’s powerful functionality, and it’s what our customers need and want.

Innovative Technologies for Competitive Advantage
By moving to the cloud, companies can quickly access the latest innovative technologies and applications to achieve competitive advantage. And SAP, having recognized this critical and intrinsic value, offers cloud solutions based on powerful new technologies, like the SAP HANA database, to ensure our customers stay ahead of the pack.

Up Next: A Deep Dive into SAP SaaS Offerings
I’ve given you a high level overview of SAP cloud solutions and how we differ from other vendors. Next up is a deeper look at our SaaS offerings—stay tuned soon for that post. I enjoy reading through your comments, so please share your thoughts and questions.

Assigned Tags

      You must be Logged on to comment or reply to a post.
      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Good Idea of SAP Cloud Offering Prakash. I am also active blogger of SAP Cloud platform. Do you think we are still missing major module SAP CRM in Cloud. What's SAP offering compare to Salesforce.


      Manish Mundra

      Author's profile photo Pushkar Ranjan
      Pushkar Ranjan

      Manish Mundra wrote:

      Do you think we are still missing major module SAP CRM in Cloud. What's SAP offering compare to Salesforce.


      Manish Mundra

      Dear Manish,

      SAP has an exciting offering called SAP Cloud for Customer, a public cloud SaaS offering powered by the SAP HANA Cloud Platform to serve the CRM needs of SAP prospects and customers.

      You can find lots of information about SAP Cloud for Customer on the dedicated community at

      Please join us on the community to further your understanding of this Cloud CRM SaaS offering from SAP.

      Thank you.

      Author's profile photo Luke Marson
      Luke Marson

      I love the Pizza-as-a-Service analogy!

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      I love the analogy as well.  It is an easy way to help non-technical people break down something like SAP into pieces that make sense.  Good work!


      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      really loved it, nice to read, waiting for SaaS.

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Great! Pizza-as-a-Service analogy is really a very simple way to explain SAP's clouds. I have a small doubt when customers would integrate SaaS to existing on premises ERP or HEC then they should have to go with SAP HANA Cloud Integration(HCI) if i am not wrong but what about if they would build custom applications on HCP and want to integrate with on premises ERP or HEC. Will they use HCI only or any other middle ware?

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Nice article !! I am really interested in learning SAP Hana as the future of computing is cloud based.

      Author's profile photo Chris Paine
      Chris Paine

      dumplings as a service.png

      Have to admit, I too liked the Pizza-as-a-Service idea, but here in Melbourne we prefer dumplings.

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      i like the ingredients you have in here

      Author's profile photo Serdar Simsekler
      Serdar Simsekler


      I love analogies like this but my understanding would place the components a bit differently.

      IaaS: The vendor provides the "infrastructure", hence the oven, fire, electric/gas. You bring your own ingredients, cook your pizza and take it home or share it with others. They provide you a space around (picnic area?) so that you can bring your own dining table and eat there and/or invite others to share.

      PaaS: In addition to IaaS, the vendor provides you a dining table; therefore, after you bake your pizza, you can eat in without much hassle. But if you do not like the colour of the chairs or the table height, though luck. You can eat on your own or invite others.

      SaaS: In addition to PaaS, the vendor provides the baked pizza so you do not care about baking it. You may choose your toppings, but if the pizza comes a bit too much baked or still doughy, you cannot really complain much but may be given a voucher for the next visit.

      On Prem: You have your own pizza house exclusively at your disposal. Whether you are managing it effectively is always a question.

      What do you think?


      Author's profile photo Adarsh S Kapoor
      Adarsh S Kapoor

      Second that.

      You consume/eat applications (i.e. the PIzza and the ingredients) and you use the Infrastructure to cook/prepare the Pizza (i.e. oven/gas).

      So for the above analogy to be technically correct esp. for IaaS and PaaS - the components should switched.

      However, I do like the overall analogy (very interesting!!).

      - Adarsh

      Author's profile photo sunil nair
      sunil nair

      Hi Prakash,

      Thanks for the wonderful insight with Pizza Service analogy with SAP Cloud offerings which made us very easy to understand the topology and ecology of the cloud platform and SAP's cloud platform offerings.

      I think the big companies would prefer laas from the point of data security, but it also lot depend upon the cost.

      Looking forward to more of such blogs from you...happy blogging

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Cloud serves have more features and services then the others are not having I have done some quality work on it to be successful.

      Author's profile photo Gaurav Dey
      Gaurav Dey

      nice 1