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SAP HANA Cloud Platform – The story so far

It’s that time of year again… that time we sit down in a reminiscent mood, reflect and write a ‘year in review‘ letter to family & friends. Same here. Yet, instead of limiting it to the past year I figured it may be about time to rewind even further and go back to the beginning.

Origins (2009/2010)

It’s a bit tricky to set a concrete date marking the exact time the idea for the platform was born. Rumour has it that it was 2009 when a small group of people met at SAP and discussed concepts of a lightweight/lean Java server powering a platform-as-a-service offering.

The year we made contact (2011)

I personally got more involved as this small team started to set the tracks for the external roll-out and so I helped with the initial positioning and spreading the word among our ecosystem and developer community – both online on the SAP Community Network and in person at SAP TechEd:

Photo courtesy by Gregor Wolf
Photo courtesy by Gregor Wolf

If you attended TechEd / SAPPHIRE NOW that year and paid close attention, you may have heard Björn Goerke announcing a private BETA of “Project River“. (Yes, for a brief moment we referred to the platform as “River” in public, but let’s not talk about names or name changes, but rather focus on the evolution of the platform.)

A star is born (2012)

Platform is all about adoption & scale and given the ambitions of the project it got obvious that the team would benefit from someone who could drive the topic of developer evangelism on a full-time basis. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me and I still consider myself very fortunate for having had the chance to join the team early on (see Next Stop → The Cloud).

In May we launched the SAP HANA Cloud Platform Developer Center within the SAP Community Network and the very first blog announced the go-live of the platform (being called SAP NetWeaver Cloud at the time): SAP NetWeaver Cloud – We’re open!

Related reading:

The early days were all about pushing the first wave of adoption among community influencers and bloggers. The first push is always the hardest (see Derek Silver’s “How to start a movement”) and hence we’ve been focusing on engaging with thought leaders & multipliers. We shared our vision for the road forward including how-to gain adoption and stating the platform’s unique selling proposition. (Worth revisiting just to see that throughout all these years we stayed true to our core vision/mission.)

Have a look at this slide presented at SAPPHIRE NOW in 2012. Sure, the names changed and the storyline evolved, but the core message hasn’t changed much and it already positioned the platform in the core of SAP’s cloud strategy back then.

Related reading:

Ready, set, go! (2013)

In retrospect, 2013 was the year the platform evolved from the being “new kid on the block” to something that rightfully claimed to take a central role in SAP’s technology strategy. We started to engage with a broader audience inside and outside of our established ecosystem:

2013 was also the year when HANA and HANA Cloud Platform finally came together (see The SAP HANA & Cloud Platform Symbiosis), we launched the free, perpetual developer edition on our TRIAL landscape (see Get your free developer license for SAP HANA Cloud Platform in 5 minutes) and we took the first step towards explicitly calling out main usage scenarios for the platform: build & extend.

Earlier that year my colleague Rui Nogueira joined the team and ever since then we operated as a tag team dedicated to onboard as many developers to the platform as possible. I was focusing on creating an architecture blue-print based on open-source frameworks (see Enterprise Granny Part 1: There’s no spoon – but a fork!) while he was driving the creation of the first ever openSAP course on HCP. The combination of a free developer edition plus free educational courses certainly hit the mark and became the most important channel to onboard developers to the platform!

Taking center stage (2014)

The platform kept evolving and the number of services continued to grow rapidly: see SAP HANA Cloud Platform – The full package. We opened up a new datacenter in Sydney, and well… yes, we took over the center stage at TechEd for good: SAP HANA Cloud Platform in the limelight at SAP TechEd

Related reading:

Most importantly though, SAP joined the OpenStack and the Cloud Foundry Foundation (see SAP Commits to Cloud Foundry and OpenStack for Innovative Development in the Cloud), hereby setting the tracks towards a multi-cloud strategy.

To infinity and beyond (2015/2016)

In the last two years SAP HANA Cloud Platform continued to evolve to what we know now (see Let’s talk platform!) One of the main topics being added to the list of key usage scenarios was the Internet of Things (IoT) – see The dark side of IoT. The most prominent example of SAP’s ambitions on the IoT front is the the co-innovation done with Siemens around their MindSphere project.

We continued to execute on integrating Cloud Foundry into the platform and launched a public BETA this summer and be rest assured that we have big plans for 2017! It will be a continuation of our broader vision (see The big picture) and some of the hot topics next year will be multi-cloud, IoT and machine learning. In short: the best is yet to come – stay tuned!

One more thing

So, that’s been our story. Yet, story-telling is much more fun if more people chime in. We’d love to hear about your first encounter with SAP HANA Cloud Platform or anything else you’d like to share. We would love to hear your stories!

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  • Wonderful. To see the whole HCP story laid out (name changes and all…not to mention with very useful cross referencing) is informative AND super interesting.

    Just for kicks, I searched my email for my first use of an HCP-related product name. Result, early 2012: “It might be too early for a book on River…”

    • Hi Kelly, thanks for the feedback, happy to hear you find it interesting! River is a particular interesting topic since it was more widely known as the project name for a product acquired with Coghead, as I wrote in the blog post SAP only used that term for a very brief moment in time to refer to the platform we call HCP these days. For most people I know the best part of the whole River/Coghead story was that Gigi Read joined SAP that way. 🙂

  • My first encounter with SAP River was at an SAP InnoJam in 2011 -- I think I met Jan Penninkhof there for the first time as well. Back then, I hadn't realized it would evolve into HCP 😉

      --  Old crappy image of an SAP River application built during InnoJam

    When NetWeaver Cloud was announced, I was as happy as a toddler in a Toys "R" Us, since I was looking for a usable J2EE based platform for quite a while. However, the trial lasted only 90 days....

    After some unfruitful back and forth with SAP sales people, I remember sending you an email October 2011 if you could help me getting a quote for the "SAP NetWeaver Cloud Lite Edition". Your exact response was:

    Sure, I'll dispatch it! In the meanwhile, TechEd is only a few days away and as usual we have some announcements to make 😉

    And that's when the perpetual trial account was announced; you couldn't have made me more happy!

    As a result, I have never looked back 😉

    --  I still wear the old NetWeaver Cloud Portal flip-flops

    • You just made my day Robin! Yeah, I remember having to keep my mouth shut for just a few more days before we launched our perpetual developer edition! Great memories!

    • Amazing, Robin!

      Funny to see the Intenzz logo on your screensot. This triggered me to search in my archives. I even found the source code of this River application... I found a nice overview presentation too:

      • Ah yeah! Trip down memory lane!

        I also remember this particular Innojam took place some 10 days after my first child was born -- but I was adamant to join, because of all the new tech (River) being shown, as well as all the SAP rock stars joining (Jürgen, Matthias, Rui et al)

        I also remember disturbing everyone in the sleeping room with my snoring, but that's another subject 😛

  • I’ve been with HCP (back then called NetWeaver Cloud) since beginning of 2013. It’s great to see how this platform evolved over time!

    I’m wondering if I still hold the record of the highest deployment “in the clouds” at 39,000 feet ?

    • WOW... nice, thanks for bringing up these memories again John! Yeah, the SAP Droids story is one of my all time favorites: if a team of mid-school kids can build a mobile app connected to SAP HANA Cloud Platform than the grown-up professional developers are running out of excuses, right?

      • [...] if a team of mid-school kids can build a mobile app connected to SAP HANA Cloud Platform than the grown-up professional developers are running out of excuses, right?

        This should be the default response to people / companies who think HANA Cloud Platform is "too difficult" 😉

  • Thanks a lot for this blog Matthias! It has been a interesting lecture for somebody like me who is starting the journey to learn from the platform and strongly believes about the opportunities that the platfomr can offer to any customer (and also where I work in).

  • Hi Matthias; What a wonderful blog. I was looking to find something about the evolution of the SCP and this blog describes it beautifully.

    I was wondering if you have an updated version of this blog?

    Because it more or less ends with sap cloud foundry. But i think it is a big beginning?

    I keep hearing stories that SAP is investing big time in the SCP foundry and will let NEO phase out (or not position is strategically).

    Do you have any insights in this?

  • Thanks Karel for your interest in SAP CP.

    I wrote several blogs since then, but these three may give you a pretty good understanding:

    Regarding your question: yes, the Cloud Foundry environment part of what we call SAP CP foundation, which is the technical underpinning of our multi-cloud strategy. The Neo environment will be around for the foreseeable future and in general we are embracing a multi-environment approach as we also have ABAP as an additional environment plus intend to incorporate Kubernetes into the SAP CP foundation.

    Hope that helps!