SAP is getting cloudier. This week, the company announced its plans for a next-generation cloud platform, called SAP Hana Cloud, that is based on what it called "breakthrough in-memory technology."
Vishal Sikka, a member of the SAP Executive Board, said in a statement that Hana Cloud is "paving the way for developers to build impactful applications in the cloud with embedded analytics" and massive speed. The new set of services is intended to compete with comparable offerings from Oracle, Salesforce, Microsoft and others.
AppServices, DB Services
The services within Hana Cloud are AppServices and DBServices. AppServices will allow developers to create applications using native SAP Hana, Java, and shared services with support for portals, integration, mobile, analytics, collaboration and commercial services.
NetWeaver Cloud is the first, generally available application service. It utilizes open standards, comes with free, unlimited developer licenses, and provides a modular platform intended for rapid development of on-demand applications. It is designed to provide integration with SAP and non-SAP systems that are either cloud-based or on-premise.
In its announcement, SAP cited the NetWeaver experience of specialty pharmaceutical firm Phoqus. John Koole, Phoqus' managing director, said in a statement that NetWeaver has a "sophisticated user interface and portal capabilities coupled with native integration with back-end enterprise resource planning systems."
The first offering of DBServices is the database-as-a-service Hana One, a deployment designed for production use on Amazon Web Services.
Hana One is provisioned with up to 60 GB of RAM per instance, which SAP said will allow applications to take advantage of in-memory transactional and analytical data processing. The service is priced at 99 cents per hour for the SAP software, and it is intended for deployment with small data sets "within minutes."
Andy Jassy, senior vice president of Amazon Web Services, told news media that Hana One is designed for the ideas that "have been stranded on enterprises' white boards because teams cannot get the requisite capital, people resources or services provisioned in a reasonable time frame."
He added that the combination of in-memory transactional and analytical data processing, along with no upfront costs and pay-as-you-go pricing, "changes the possibilities."
We asked Charles King, an analyst with industry research firm Pund-IT, what SAP's advantages might be as it tries to catch up with Oracle, Salesforce and other competitors.
He said that the company's in-memory solutions are "ready for prime time just as the commercial market for these technologies is taking off."
King pointed out that, "while notable competitors like Oracle are focused on increasingly proprietary solutions, SAP is headed in the opposite direction." This means, he said, that Hana can be "leveraged by numerous qualified vendors," such as Dell and Cisco. In addition, King said that SAP's continuing investments in Hana "make it extremely attractive to partners," including ISVs who are building solutions and services on the platform.