SAP Cloud Platform – The next level
At the beginning of the year I posted a teaser on Twitter stating 2017 would be a BIG year for SAP Cloud Platform and today – finally – the day has came that I no longer have to keep it a secret. Sure, bits and pieces have leaked over time and I surely played an active part herein by providing you a glimpse on what’s coming when I blogged about the new name as well. But that’s past us, so let’s talk about today…
Today we officially announce the general availability of Cloud Foundry within SAP Cloud Platform and in parallel rollout the multi-cloud architecture underneath! Certainly there are many more announcements, yet in this blog post I want to focus on these two topics and refer you to Björn Goerke’s overarching blog post for the overall story.
Before we go into the details, let me set the stage and level the playing field. For that purpose let’s have a look at the traditional cloud model and explain SAP’s strategy for SAP Cloud Platform.
Infrastructure / multi-cloud
Starting bottom up – and hereby jumping right at it – let’s first talk about Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Let’s be clear: SAP will continue to invest into its own infrastructure and to expand its global data center footprint. Yet, in parallel we have signed strategic, long-term partnerships with the top three hyper-scale cloud vendors: Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform. As a result, SAP is first to provide a multi-cloud enterprise cloud platform with free choice of infrastructure. Not only does that lead to a much broader regional coverage of SAP Cloud Platform data centers, it will also tremendously accelerate the future build-out of new data centers based on customer demand. Finally, providing SAP Cloud Platform next to our customers’ other cloud assets (e.g. data sets, services and applications) caters to so called co-location scenarios, which benefit from reduced network latency, shared services and better integration possibilities.
PaaS / Enterprise cloud platform
Moving up one layer, we get to the other main talking point of this blog post: Cloud Foundry. Back in late 2014 when SAP joined the Cloud Foundry Foundation as co-founding platinum member we set the tracks to incorporate this open-source project into SAP Cloud Platform. Given it has become the de-facto standard in enterprise PaaS it was a no-brainer, and during the last couple of months while the teams have been busy at work we launched a public BETA so that the developer community could get acquainted with the technology in the meanwhile. Now, with the GA version out, we’re sunsetting the BETA and replacing it with a new trial experience – please check out the respective blog post from my colleague Timo Lakner for all the details.
Let’s save a closer look at the benefits of Cloud Foundry for later and talk about SAP’s general approach to PaaS first. In that light, we certainly want to move it to the next level – beyond technical capabilities. SAP Cloud Platform provides a comprehensive and steadily-growing set of platform services and capabilities (40+ and counting), yet what truly sets it apart is the focus on higher-level business services infused with machine learning intelligence. In fact, the whole set of capabilities provided as part of SAP Leonardo is based and powered by the platform and its capabilities. As such, SAP Cloud Platform is the technical foundation and underlying platform for all digital transformation, integration and agile business scenarios.
SaaS / LOB cloud solutions and integration
On the top, we have SaaS. Over the last couple of years SAP’s portfolio of cloud solutions (developed in-house or acquired) has continuously grown and the combination of SaaS + PaaS has shown to be very successful and well-received by customers. This combination gives you the desired standardisation and rapid deployment of SaaS, plus the flexibility to extend and integrate your LoB solution as needed via PaaS. Especially in context of hybrid IT-landscapes with both on-prem and cloud systems, this has proven to be a winning strategy. Needless to say that SAP will continue down that path and SAP Cloud Platform is the designated extension platform for these scenarios.
As Björn Goerke pointed out in his blog post, it’s absolutely crucial to treat platform holistically and that implies treating ecosystem and marketplace as an integral part of the end-to-end platform strategy. On that note, we have been taking it to the next level by enhancing the SAP API Business Hub, the SAP App Center and the partner marketplace with new capabilities and content respectively.
Now that we have elaborated on the broader strategy, let’s have a closer look at how Cloud Foundry fits in.
Besides being the technical enabler for the multi-cloud architecture – via Cloud Provider Interfaces (CPI) – there are numerous other benefits that we covered in detail in previous blog posts such as The road ahead with SAP Cloud Platform and Cloud Foundry by Rui Nogueira.
For the sake of brevity of this blog post I won’t reiterate on those again, but rather refer you to (re-)visit Rui’s comprehensive write-up.
All of these environments complement each other and address specific use-cases. Based on the feedback from the various SAP user groups we understand that many have extensive Java know-how in-house. That’s why SAP started its cloud platform endeavor with Java, which still is – by a fair margin may I add – the most widely used programming language in the enterprise space. Catering to a more light-weight programming model for data-centric applications (think analytical dashboards etc.) we introduced XS. For mash-ups and composite apps targeting casual users HTML5 apps are a great approach as they provide an engaging user-experience via SAP UI5 and Fiori. And via the support of (community) buildpacks within Cloud Foundry developers can now use their language of choice!
In that context, we currently see Cloud Foundry primarily addressing the following focus areas: IoT and machine learning scenarios (in conjunction with the broader SAP Leonardo portfolio) and HANA native development using XSA. My colleague, Sven Kohlhaas, has written about the later in much more detail. Please check-out his blog post(s) to get the full scoop.
(For more information on programming models please refer to the respective page on our website!)
The complete picture
“A picture is worth a thousand words!”; so let’s have a look at how all of the above comes together.
I guess many of you have seen previous versions of that high-level architecture diagram, therefore let’s focus on the main additions we made to properly address the announcements made today.
As you can see we added the new infrastructure providers to reflect the multi-cloud architecture.
In the “Data & Storage Services” category we added Postgres, MongoDB as open-source alternatives to SAP HANA or SAP ASE and Redis, which is commonly used for implementing a distributed/shared cache for stateless applications. Furthermore, we added an Object Store for unstructured data and RabbitMQ for publish & subscribe messaging purposes.
(Update: Please refer to this blog post for more details on the various data management options.)
On the programming model side, we introduce SAP HANA XSA (as mentioned above), Node.js and Python plus the possibility to use any of the community-provided buildpacks. For more detailed information on all these additions please refer to the dedicated Cloud Foundry page on our public website.
What I really want to highlight though to is the top of this diagram: to facilitate and simplify the end-to-end development, operation and commercialization, we provide unified access to all of SAP Cloud Platform for each persona and role:
- SAP Web IDE is the one development tool to rapidly develop new, exciting cloud applications with ease.
- SAP API Business Hub is the central place to discover & test-drive enterprise APIs, microservices and integration content.
- The new cockpit provides unified access to centrally manage the operations across apps, services, environments and the underlying multi-cloud enabled infrastructure.
- The SAP App Center is the one place to buy & sell cloud applications to our extensive ecosystem.
As you can see, all teams have really been hard at work the last couple of months to take SAP Cloud Platform to the next level and deliver a “unique, secure and portable enterprise cloud platform that runs on top of all the industry leading infrastructure providers, all based on open standards and open-source” [REF]. I call myself privileged to be part of this team and very excited to hear your thoughts and feedback!
One more thing… while I tried my best to give you a run-down on all the exciting and note-worthy additions and changes, there’s soo much more and hence I encourage you to read more of the blog posts my colleagues and I have been publishing today.
PS: Oh, and don’t take our word for it, but see for yourself – we offer a free developer trial, so see for yourself! 😉
 SAP Cloud Platform – A positive-sum game by Björn Goerke
 SAP Cloud Platform – Trial experience by Timo Lakner
 A new seamless SAP Cloud Platform experience by Robert Wetzold
 Announcing General Availability of SAP Web IDE, multi-cloud version by Elizabeth Gutt
 Data Management on SAP Cloud Platform: New Environment; New Capabilities by Manjunath Baburao