SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud: A Strong Pillar of SAP’s Strategy

Dilipkumar Khandelwal, president of SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud and managing director of SAP Labs India, discusses a “bridge to the cloud.”

Cloud computing is an integral part of IT’s role in business innovation. According to research firm IDC, cloud investments accounted for US$46.5 billion of IT infrastructure spending in 2017, up 20.9% from the previous year. The ongoing drive toward digitization has brought industries across the board to the brink of a paradigm shift. Innovations are happening not only in hyperscalers’ clouds, but also in private managed clouds, where mission-critical applications now reside. At the center of this movement is SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud.

Here, Dilipkumar Khandelwal explains the context of SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud and where it is headed.

Q: How do you see the overall development of the cloud?

A: As we all know, the world is transforming into an intelligent, digitally enabled mesh of people, things, and services, where the lines between what’s real and what’s digital are truly blurred. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are poised to enhance analytical, prediction, and interface capabilities in virtually every technology-enabled system. New digital business models are emerging and new ecosystems are forming to realign business and customer relationships. And applications are being developed to connect people and processes via mobile platforms. Meanwhile, companies’ IT departments are struggling to modernize their legacy ERP and harmonize two very different worlds.

Cloud has evolved from a disruption to the “new normal” and has become an essential catalyst for innovation across industries. According to Gartner, “In its first decade, cloud computing was disruptive to IT, but looking into the second decade, it is becoming mature.” Major barriers to cloud adoption have all but vanished. And aspects that were previously perceived as weak points, such as security, are now often seen as strengths.

Yet, despite being convinced that cloud standardization delivers benefits and provides an accelerated path to innovation, c-level executives will need time to migrate away from highly customized environments. This is where SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud comes into play.

What exactly is SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud?

Simply stated, it is SAP’s private managed cloud. It was launched in 2013 to help customers accelerate their adoption of SAP HANA. SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud emulates a customer’s on-premise environment in a cloud model and provides an SLA that covers the application stack and all the familiar security and control functions. Thanks to the BYOL model of SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud Start service, customers can start test-driving SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud within a matter of weeks by running SAP HANA solutions for any non-production SAP workload in the cloud – and then shift to a longer-term production contract whenever they’re ready. In either case, they can select from a menu of functional application and technical managed services to allow them to focus on their core competencies.

How does SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud serve business needs?

We talk to lots of customers and they all tend to have the same goals: They want to protect their current revenue stream, identify new markets, respond to unfamiliar competitors, and make real-time decisions across all data sources. What customers — including Dow Chemical, Burberry, and Vivint Smart Home — are telling us is that SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud meets real business needs.

We’re used to hearing about the impact of SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud from IT sources, but people from outside IT are now increasingly recognizing the value of SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud as they see how SAP cloud solutions are helping them focus on core competencies. For example, Pat Kelliher, chief accounting officer for Vivint Smart Home, said: “We chose SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud because of its expertise in SAP S/4HANA… They could do it much more cost-effectively […] and we wanted to divert our resources to other needs in the business.”

SAP offers three different consumption models for its flagship ERP product: the on-premise edition of SAP S4/HANA, SaaS offering SAP S/4HANA Cloud, and SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud. SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud sets out a controlled path to standardization and innovation, and is SAP’s model for enabling customers to personalize their journey and to move to the cloud at their own pace. In this model, SAP provides the complete system landscape, inclusive of the applications, based on an SAP reference architecture. As such, SAP is responsible for overall system operation and all the managed services although the customer is free to arrange its individual governance interaction.

Is this a very recent offering?

No. SAP originally announced that it would offer customers a managed service in a private cloud at SAPPHIRE NOW back in 2013. So SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud will celebrate its fifth anniversary on May 16 this year. That’s cause for celebration, and we can be very proud of what we have achieved so far. SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud has emerged as one of the strongest pillars of SAP’s cloud strategy and has seen unprecedented growth in the last couple of years. It is quite literally the “bridge to the cloud,” specifically, to SAP S/4HANA Cloud, for SAP’s vast on-premise customer base.

By subscribing to our managed services, customers reduce their implementation risk. That’s because their landscape architecture is handled by SAP and their applications run in SAP data centers operated by teams of professional developers although customers can keep some components in their own environment. This contrasts with the “old” hosting model in which the IT infrastructure resided in a hosting provider’s data center, but it was the customer who was responsible for its landscape sizing and architecture and for installing and configuring all its applications. Today’s reality is very different: We’re making it as simple as possible for our customers to chart their journey to the cloud.

The journey map to SAP S/4HANA Cloud

How will SAP’s strategic partnerships help the customer?

As part of its multi-cloud strategy, SAP has established strategic partnerships with the major public cloud providers, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP), to offer customers choice. These partnerships enable customers to leverage data center infrastructure from public cloud providers to scale SAP cloud solutions globally and to drive innovation together with partners and customers. It also offers companies the ultimate choice of how and where they want to run their businesses.

SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud fully supports our multi-cloud strategy by enabling customers to deploy their applications on Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, or Microsoft Azure. Since announcing the availability of SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud on the AWS infrastructure at SAPPHIRE NOW in 2017, we have made significant progress with AWS and Microsoft Azure on certifying their respective infrastructures to run SAP workloads. We are working closely with the major public cloud infrastructure partners to ensure SAP workloads can be run seamlessly on the platform of the customer’s choice. One of our focal points in 2018 is exploring the options for delivering in China.

What else will we see in 2018?

We all know that our customers need comprehensive and personalized support on the road to digital transformation. The pace of change has accelerated thanks to tremendous increases in the volume of electronic data, the ubiquity of mobile interfaces, and the growing power of AI. In the early years, companies that digitized were at the forefront of the industry. Today, digitization has permeated every level of the competitive landscape. Society’s growing reliance on digital technologies is not only reshaping customer expectations, but also redefining boundaries across industries.

There is no set formula for success. A good road map can come with callouts and suggestions, but my simple advice for SAP customers is this: Floor it! Adopt a cloud-first strategy as early as possible and take advantage of the cloud services in your industry. SAP supports the multi-cloud approach and is equipped to offer tailor-made cloud services.

SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud helps customers unlock the full value of SAP’s product suite in a secure private cloud and in compliance with the EU General Data Protection Regulation, which will come into force in May 2018. SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud is the only end-to-end solution of its kind, delivering comprehensive cloud infrastructure and managed services for in-memory applications, database, and platform. And, as ever, customers can rely on SAP to provide a secure and stable environment.