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HANA Enterprise heralds SAP's big Cloud push

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8th May 2013
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With Cloud set to be one of the dominant themes at next week's SapphireNow conference in Orlando, SAP has set off its first shot with the confirmation that it plans to offer its HANA analytics database platform as an enterprise Cloud service.

The HANA Enterprise Cloud will allow users to run SAP Business Suite applications in the Cloud. Customers will be able to run multi-application workloads, including analytics, Business Warehouse (BW), CRM and ERP, and shift subscribed capacity to the workloads most in need of available power.
HANA has been available as a service through Amazon Web Services (AWS) since last year, but the HANA Enterprise Cloud will run in seven SAP data centres around the globe. Two are situated in North America, three in Europe and two in the Asia Pacific region.
"With SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud, we are addressing a fundamental customer need that we have seen since we first launched HANA . Customers want more and more options in how they take advantage of the value SAP HANA brings," said member of the executive board of SAP AG, Technology and Innovation Dr. Vishal Sikka.
"With the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud, we are delivering HANA at scale with instant value and no compromise. We are simplifying customers' experience and expanding their choice in how they want to adopt SAP HANA , now bringing it to a massive scale for enterprise mission critical applications - and we are doing this without disruption through the Cloud."
Beta customer Florida Crystals was cited as an example of a customer able to complete an ERP and BW migration within two months.
"As part of our aggressive global growth strategy, it was paramount that we have the ability to deploy mission critical SAP applications powered by HANA as quickly as possible via the Cloud," said Don Whittington, CIO at the sugar manufacturer.
Analyst reaction
In a research note to clients, Nomura Securities analyst Rick Sherlund said: "The advantages are faster time to market and time to value, with lower total cost of ownership. Offering a service that delivers quick value and easy implementation should be a nice complement to the real-time capabilities users seek from HANA for a wide variety of new, real-time business processes, in addition to the Business Suite.”
Forrester's Stefan Reid was somewhat more conflicted in his opinions with references to a "half-based business model" which he feels is "not disruptive and will NOT accelerate HANA usage to the many more customers who have been struggling with HANA on-premises because of its licensing".
"The announced HANA Enterprise Cloud follows the “Bring Your Own License” paradigm," he notes. "While this is great for customers that already have a HANA license and would like to relocate it into the cloud, it is useless for customers that might have largely fluctuating data volumes or user numbers and might specifically use a cloud because of its elastic business model…SAP could really disrupt the enterprise market — not only with the HANA technology but also with a disruptive Cloud business model."
It's just not SaaS, he argues. "Customers could run “any” SAP application on the HANA cloud and connect it to the HANA database," he says. "Oops; doesn’t this sound rather like an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offering? Yes, actually it is closer to IaaS or (better) PaaS than to SaaS. 
"Bringing your own licenses and application versions literally destroys the economy of scale for the provider at a higher level. To turn the Business Suite on the HANA Cloud into a SaaS offering, SAP should only support a single version, based on a modern SaaS license model, in its new cloud.
On the plus side, reckons that SAP has realised the architectural shortcomings of HANA ."Until today, HANA was basically bound to physical hardware," he explains. "Virtualization concepts or shared resource pools of memory did not really work. SAP seems to have addressed this with an advanced management layer on top of the existing HANA software stack – otherwise, its own operation would not be possible at a reasonable margin."
Reid can also detect the emergence of a HANA software ecosystem. "The more ISVs that SAP can attract to the HANA Enterprise Cloud, the more that SAP will become visible as a new platform vendor," he says. "Until now, the market perception of HANA has largely been restricted to that of an enabling technology stack underneath SAP business applications – similar to NetWeaver on premises. Maybe the HANA Enterprise Cloud could change this."

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