“Agility” is probably not the first word that comes to the mind of CIOs thinking about SAP. More likely might be things like stability, reliability and, of course, comprehensive enterprise applications. Yet agility is exactly what SAP is now helping businesses achieve with the HANA Cloud Platform, delivering cloud-based digital capabilities while protecting the integrity, reliability and performance of their core business systems.
While businesses value the functional scope, robustness and reliability of their SAP systems, they are also stepping up to the challenges of digital transformation. Businesses want business agility, leveraging both new digital capabilities while optimizing their existing SAP investments. They need to drive innovation, build new effective processes and get closer to their own customers.
For context, SAP is the world’s largest maker of enterprise applications, with over 300 thousand customers worldwide, including 87% of the Forbes Global 2000. Organizations in a large variety of industrial and commercial sectors use SAP’s flagship suite of enterprise applications to run their businesses. According to a recent study by Oxford Economics, “76% of the world’s transaction revenue touches an SAP system”.
HCP is a Platform as a Service (PaaS) tailored to SAP environments. Currently available on SAP’s public cloud, we expect that SAP will soon propose HCP on private clouds; an alternative that many businesses we talk with would prefer.
On our side, Atos is a major SAP solutions partner with more than 6 200 SAP implementations worldwide, serving 3 million users. In this post, I’ll give a short overview of how the HANA Cloud Platform (HCP) delivers agility to businesses while carefully protecting their existing SAP business core systems.
Accelerating delivery of agile, cloud applications
Overall, customers report a dramatic acceleration in the iterative “develop to deploy” cycle of agile applications, allowing them to respond to – and even anticipate – changing business needs.
Customers have powerful development toolkits for agile applications as well as multiple programming languages (HCP includes SAP open source UI5 and JAVA). Most importantly, developers focus on business logic, leveraging reusable “backing services” designed for SAP environments and leaving aside the time consuming work of application packaging and deployment, which is automated by HCP’s release engineering tool chain. In addition, they have invaluable guidance for what we might call “DevOps with discipline”, in SAP Best Practices and tools for DevOps CD/CI pipelines.
Delivering new digital capabilities while carefully protecting core business systems
HCP provides a wealth of transformative digital capabilities. Just as examples, we’ll cite:
- Mobility services to empower enterprise organizations and expand customer relationships in an increasingly mobile world
- IoT services to manage “smart objects” over the Internet of Things
- Advanced Analytics services for “agile insights” and “intelligent” applications
SAP designed the architecture to ensure that the “agile HCP layer” is isolated from the more “stable” underlying layer of core business systems. The applications needing data from enterprise systems use well defined APIs and all data is channeled through the HANA Cloud Connector. At the risk of some oversimplification, I might say that this architecture effectively “ring fences” the core systems, allowing data to flow only through one secure and carefully controlled gate.
That’s why HCP can deliver the agile digital capabilities that businesses want with no impact on the integrity, reliability and performance of their core business systems.
Industry-leading levels of performance and reliability
To leverage new digital capabilities in demanding, real world, business environments, agile applications also have to meet customer requirements for enterprise grade levels of reliability and performance.
SAP’s innovative HANA in memory database – the keystone of the HANA Cloud Platform – provides the exceptional performance that is absolutely fundamental for IoT and analytics. HCP also automates numerous time-consuming and often error prone manual tasks involved in the operation of applications, with functions such as scaling, load-balancing and self-healing.
The bottom line: “we want it all”
We talk with a lot of businesses about HCP and the operative word is not “or” but “and”. Businesses with SAP environments want agile cloud applications and careful protection of their core business systems and enterprise grade levels of reliability and performance.
With HANA Cloud Platform now businesses can get it all. And that’s why we have chosen HCP as our platform of reference for the development and deployment of agile applications around SAP core business systems.
In our next post my colleague Akshay Mathur, Product Manager for SAP HANA Cloud Platform, will take a closer look at the business benefits organizations can expect from HCP capabilities in mobility, IoT and advanced analytics.