Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

A day like today brings The Temptations lyrics (“My Girl“) to mind …

I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day.
When it’s cold outside I’ve got the month of May.
I guess you’d say
What can make me feel this way?
My girl (my girl, my girl)
Talkin’ ’bout my girl (my girl).


Picture from the SAP Palo Alto office this morning: sunshine on a cloudy day

We have come a long way since launching HANA; we have seen customer excitement as we’ve never seen before; we’ve seen SAP transformed and renewed from within around innovation; we’ve seen competitors jump to try to catch up. And today we announce one more big step in the journey: the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud. We are delivering HANA at scale with instant value and without compromise. Customers have relied on SAP for decades as a trusted partner for their mission critical applications, now more recently with HANA, and as of today now also with the flexibility and time to value of the cloud. What I see in front of us is a time when all cloud vendors out there – their applications, their platforms, everything – are seamlessly running on the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud. Already today we have many customers that are running systems 1000x larger than a single cloud vendor’s entire customer base. It is not a stretch to think that all of these individual cloud systems will converge and run from central places, particularly with a trusted and long-lived company such as SAP. We can provide the mission critical applications, the unbelievable innovation of HANA and the flexibility of the cloud. This is my girl.

For the context, let me talk more about what we announced today. Today, SAP announced the next important step in our HANA journey – SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud to fundamentally rethink how we enable our customers to run their mission critical applications in a managed cloud with the power of SAP HANA. SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud delivers the power of real-time business with the simplicity of the cloud to our customers. This is an addition to our strong on premise offerings and is significant in offering an additional choice of deployment to our customers. HANA Enterprise Cloud gives our customers a new deployment model to run HANA in the enterprise, their SAP Business Suite (ERP, CRM etc.), Business Warehouse (BW) or any other custom big data applications that were not able to run in real-time before.

Simply stated, SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud consists of:

i. A breakthrough cloud infrastructure (previously known as “petabyte farm”), that is rethought for real-time architecture and optimized for modern trends in elasticity, storage, networking and compute layers.

ii. An open cloud platform (SAP HANA Cloud Platform), as the foundation to run modern applications and analytics.

iii. The ability to run mission critical applications such as SAP Business Suite, SAP Business Warehouse and several big data applications delivered as a managed service. These services help customers assess, migrate, and run rich applications with the simplicity of the cloud.

In this blog, I want to share some thoughts that shaped our thinking for launching the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud. There are three dimensions that are directly addressed through this development.

1. Real-time Enterprise: Business has fundamentally shifted to the end points with empowered consumers, connected devices and intelligent machines. Companies need insights from data in real-time to make their decisions within the window of opportunity. Imagine these two to understand the massive shift in business that is happening right in front of our eyes. Traditional CRM is expanding to real-time consumer engagement where data from web, mobile, social and point of sale is required instantaneously to deliver the right consumer experience, with the relevant insights and actions. Traditional ERP is expanding to smarter processes with data from machines (e.g. predictive maintenance), supply chain events (e.g. shipping rates) and finance (e.g. commodity prices, profitability) which now need to be analyzed faster as information is being captured in massive quantities. This was the key reason why we launched SAP Business Suite on HANA on Jan 10th. Now, by offering SAP Business Suite on the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud we will lower the barriers to adoption and help companies realize the vision of a real-time enterprise faster.

We believe that SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud could double the rate of adoption of SAP Business Suite on HANA with faster go-lives and a simple approach by lowering total cost of ownership and risk.

2. In-Memory Database as preferred database for the cloud: As the economy moves from “transactions” to “interactions” data in our systems has exploded in size, speed and complexity beyond the capability of current generation of databases, platforms and infrastructures. We have seen this story before with web companies, including Facebook and Google, that have realized that the limitations and expensive workarounds of disc based databases in cloud applications. Cloud applications have real-time needs to continuously pull multiple requests to perform analytics, predictive functions and pull the information together from multiple sources (think about a simple app that puts together a 360 degree view of your customers as an example). Hence, most modern applications are best served by data being in-memory, and fundamentally moving away from current generation database platforms and specialized appliances. According to research done at Stanford on RAMClouds, Grey and Potzulu’s 5 minute rule of thumb on whether to keep data in memory or stored in disc and read back to memory when required is now ~30 hours in modern technology terms i.e. if you don’t need a piece of data for more than 30 hours then you can leave this in disc. This limit is constantly extending making in-memory centric database the default for new applications. Moreover, with no ETL (and hence no latency introduced by architecture choice) and further collapse of the runtime layers from the screen to app to the db tiers, next generation applications will be run on a cloud substrate that is in-memory centric, our collective, global memory, and SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud is a great step in that direction.

Already large companies in verticals such as online marketplaces, digital marketing and financial fraud are working with SAP to build the next generation data platform in the cloud. SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud addresses this opportunity in a very unique way and hence is fundamentally different that public cloud platforms and infrastructures that are not specialized for in-memory architecture.

3. Modern Data Center Disruptions: We are living in very interesting times where the core pillars of data center are going through a generational shift. The data center is being re-imagined with disruptions in networking, storage and compute layers. In-memory architecture is ideally suited for software defined networking and infrastructure as they provide better programmatic control via APIs and enhanced monitoring across different hardware and software components to deliver the best performance. SAP’s Cloud Frame technology that is part of SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud (hope you saw a demo of this in our press conference!) is an example of how we can do that effectively. SAP’s deep collaboration with leading companies like Arista on Networks and Cisco on servers that understand software defined networking has provided us with a front row seat to develop SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud. For example – Arista 7500E is new cloud scale networking switch that scales to 100,000 servers and millions of server instances and achieves an amazing 144 GByte of buffer per 8 slots (essentially offering 3X buffer capacity per port for HANA than before) helping dramatically with speed. In storage, we have seen the power of large DRAM capacities and falling prices vs. Flash and Disk technologies. The use of disk is now primarily for backup and recovery of data or for archiving cold data across large data warehouses. We are also seeing massive innovation in the compute stack with new innovations from Intel (e.g. the upcoming Ivy Bridge and then the Haswell families of processors, in a steady stream of innovation) and new scale up (e.g. HP’s Project Kracken with SAP) and scale out servers – e.g. IBM’s collaboration with SAP to put together the HANA Enterprise Cloud at Petascale with over 500 TB in-main memory in a scale out configuration with shared GPFS for storage). SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud Platform is at the core of these data center disruptions and our open collaboration approach with Intel, HP, IBM, Arista and Cisco brings a modern data center for our customers. We are not merely consolidating from an on premise sprawl to a cloud data center with same database technology but leapfrogging with dramatically new capabilities of in-memory data center with massive scale in networking, storage and compute layers. This is a major breakthrough.

All this innovation is not enough if you cannot adopt it fast enough. Hence, SAP is offering managed services and expertise to assess, migrate and operate such an infrastructure. This is a strong value proposition for CIOs and their executive boards to consider. It comes with the trusted advice, enterprise grade support and peace of mind from SAP as we already run the world’s largest in-memory infrastructure with the strongest service levels and security credentials in the world out of our data centers. We are also innovating on the pricing and licensing of this infrastructure. Customers can bring their own licenses for SAP Business Suite, BW or HANA and take advantage of monthly subscriptions to run and operate their services in the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud.

We at SAP have long waited for this day. To help us rethink the cloud itself, and to take the HANA revolution to an entirely new level, hasn’t been an easy journey, and it has been one full of twists and turns and overcoming obstacles and complexities, both old and new, big and small. I have the privilege to work with an unbelievable team that has worked *tirelessly* to get us to this point. They are the ones who’ve made this happen, the harbingers of change, the bringers of sunshine, on a cloudy day. J And as my little girl gets her wings and soars to the clouds and beyond, I want to take a moment to thank them, you know who you are, and to the incomparable HANA team, for making all this happen! A heartfelt thank you.

With this, I welcome you and your thoughts to the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud! What do you think?

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