SAP and IBM Join Forces to Accelerate Enterprise Cloud Adoption

By Peter Bernstein October 14, 2014

Blue is clearly the color of the day in the tech world, and this is not a reference to “I’m so blue!” Rather it involves the across the pond and global embrace of IBM (aka Big Blue) and SAP, whose corporate colors happen to be the reverse of IBM, in a new partnership aimed at accelerating cloud adoption by enterprises. This really is big blue news.

The news is that SAP has selected IBM as a premier strategic provider of Cloud infrastructure services for its business critical applications. The objective as noted is to speed enterprise customers’ ability to run core business in the cloud. The specifics are that the SAP® HANA Enterprise Cloud offering is now available through IBM’s highly scalable, open and secure cloud. The business imperative along with speeding cloud adoption is to expand SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud to major markets with the addition of the IBM cloud data centers. As the companies state, they see the partnership as a way to enable customers to deploy their SAP software around the globe in a faster and more secure environment that is backed by IBM's proven cloud capabilities.

"We look forward to extending one of the longest and most successful partnerships in the IT industry,” said Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP. “The demand for SAP HANA and the SAP Business Suite on SAP HANA in the cloud is tremendous and this global agreement with IBM heralds a new era of cloud collaboration. We anticipate customers will benefit from this collaboration and expansion of SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud."

“This announcement is a significant milestone in the deployment of enterprise cloud,” said IBM Chairman, President and CEO Ginni Rometty. “It builds on our two companies’ long history of bringing innovation to business, and extends IBM’s position as the premier global cloud platform. Our secure, open, hybrid enterprise cloud platform will enable SAP clients to support new ways to work in an era shaped by Big Data, mobile and social."

This is a partnership where core competencies mesh nicely, IBM and SAP bring to the table the expertise, deep breadth of solutions and global cloud infrastructure reach to deliver SAP business solutions on the IBM Cloud to almost any customer anywhere in the world.

As the partners emphasize, SAP brings the power of real-time through in-memory computing capabilities of SAP HANA combined with the ability to run mission-critical business applications, like SAP Business Suite, in a cloud environment. For its part, IBM brings enterprise depth and the open architecture of IBM Cloud Managed Services and SoftLayer. In fact, the combined capabilities are being touted as enabling customers to securely manage SAP workloads from trial to production on a consistent infrastructure, with transparency and control over where data resides.

Since cloud migrations can be challenging on a lot of fronts including integrations and support, customers will also be able to avail themselves with technology and the services from both companies. This includes IBM’s army of consultants.

The benefits of being very blue

In making the announcement of the partnership, SAP and IBM articulated a number of customer benefits which include:

  • Customers can take advantage of SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud with the global footprint of IBM Cloud. This enables customers to put data to work with SAP HANA and business applications in the IBM Cloud built for speed, transparency and control.
  • SAP HANA will run on IBM Cloud to provide an open-standards-based approach that will help create the foundation to more easily integrate existing technology investments with new workloads.
  • IBM and SAP are committed to security for enterprise customers in the cloud. The IBM Cloud provides visibility and control to enable enterprises to apply and extend their security best practices into a cloud environment.
  • Companies will now have additional reach and scale to more easily start locally and scale globally with cloud capabilities and also comply with data residency and other regulatory mandates.

The partnership is illustrative of how major ICT are positioning their respective ecosystems for the cloud wars ahead.  Whether it was at the recent Oracle OpenWorld gathering a few weeks back or the current Salesforce.com extravaganza this week, one thing has become clear, the major players understand that the cloud is the future, and that being able to provide as broad a portfolio of solutions to sustain customer loyalty, and hopefully attract new ones, is all about being perceived as end-to-end cloud solutions providers. 

How these ecosystems, where Amazon, Google, Oracle, Microsoft (and we shall see about HP and Dell) evolve is likely to be the big tech business drama of the next few months. No matter what show one goes to these days there are a few major talking points that everyone addresses.

The first is that as a result of the exploding pace of technology innovation—virtualization, mobility, security and the cloud to name the big and obvious ones—the market for enterprise technology solutions has reached an inflection point. It is clear that within the next 12-18 months the long-term fortunes of vendors are going to be determined in many respects. In fact, it was this recognition that caused Cisco CEO John Chambers to conjecture not that long ago that of the top five computing companies three could be gone in five years.

The second is the point about having the broadest portfolio as possible. This is a matter of account control and trust. The goal is simple as it has always been with the big vendors. The idea is to give decision-makers no reason to look elsewhere. Ironically, it is a message IBM used to use effectively as IT shops knew they would not be questioned by selecting IBM even if they were not the low-cost provider. It is a message that resonates well with large enterprises, in particular right now as they try to do more with less and shorten their vendor lists to get rid of complexity.

The previous point is a good segue to another popular theme, “simplicity matters!”  SAP’s CEO Bill McDermott at the annual Sapphire Now event back in June spelled it out when he said the hallmark of the company going forward was to accelerate the move to the cloud and “Make it Simple!” in regards to transforming customer “E”vironments. 

Going blue certainly can make IT vendor selection simpler thanks to the partnership. It certainly will be interesting to see as the ecosystems evolve and spar with each other in the next critical months whose acceleration to the cloud solutions end up moving the market share reports from analysts and what the drivers are for moves in any direction.

Stay tuned!




Edited by Maurice Nagle
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