Back to Basics: Understanding SAP’s Cloud Offerings

Posted by Prakash Darji on July 28, 2015

SVP & GM, Platform As A Service

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I’m lucky. I get to talk to customers on a regular basis. The cloud dominates many of those conversations and one key question tends to come up over and over again: “I’m overwhelmed by the number of cloud options and solutions available. How can my organization transition to the cloud with SAP?”

My answer is always the same: how you get to the cloud differs depending on your starting point.

For example, SAP has customers who’ve invested 40+ years with our on premise offerings and now want to move these mission critical applications, like ERP and BW, to the cloud. We also have customers who simply want to build or run innovative applications in the cloud to better meet their customers’ needs.

To ensure we address the broad range of customer requirements that exist, SAP offers a full range of cloud solutions that I’ll discuss below. But before I do, I’d like to make sure we’re all on the same page when it comes to common cloud terminology. The easiest way to take you through it is by using my favorite analogy, pizza:

  • Infrastructure as a Platform (IaaS) is akin to ‘‘Take and Bake’. The vendor supplies your pizza fully assembled but uncooked. So you take it home, bake it and serve it.
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS) is more like ‘Pizza Delivery’. The pizza is delivered baked to your home and you serve it up.
  • Software as a Service (SaaS) can be viewed as ‘Eating Out’. You go to a restaurant, order what you want and eat it. No dishes and no preparation—the vendor takes care of everything.
    pizza as a service

It’s a pretty simple but logical way to think about common cloud offerings. Now with that in mind, let’s take a look at the range of SAP cloud options available today:

  1. For customers who are running on premise SAP applications like ERP or BW, and who want maximum control and customization when moving these mission critical systems to run in the cloud, we offer a private managed cloud environment—the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud (HEC)—which is run in SAP’s trusted data centers. This is our IaaS offering.
  2. For customers who want to get started in the cloud quickly and easily with pre-built, standard business applications, we offer a number of SaaS applications focused on HR, finance, procurement, etc., that are fully baked and ready to use. These include SAP SuccessFactors, Concur, Ariba and many other next generation apps covering a multitude of customer needs.


  1. And for those customers who prefer to build and run custom cloud applications, extend the functionality of their on premise or existing cloud applications, we offer our PaaS solution, the SAP HANA Cloud Platform (HCP).

It’s important to note that all the cloud offerings listed above run on one common cloud infrastructure to ensure a unified and integrated cloud environment.

How is SAP Different from Other Cloud Players?
From a SaaS perspective, SAP has the broadest cloud capability end-to-end. Other, mostly niche, players do not have SAP’s proven track record of bringing solutions to the enterprise nor do they have the breadth, reach or coverage across industries. We leverage the most modern design paradigms and in-depth industry knowledge to give customers the best cloud applications on the market.

This also holds true when comparing SAP to many traditional IaaS vendors who tend to offer a general purpose (commodity) infrastructure play and compete solely on cost. How you get your business to the cloud, what you do with it, the types of workloads you run, etc. are not really addressed. That’s where SAP differs – we’ve thought through everything customers are going to need to set up their own cloud infrastructure and we tackle their landscape complexities up front, eliminating hidden costs. I like to call this the SAP white glove treatment.

Another key differentiator is our robust cloud platform, HCP. What makes it so robust? HCP comes with the full range of database and application services, including the powerful in-memory SAP HANA database, needed to build world-class and data intensive apps. In addition, we have built many of our cloud apps on HCP and will continue to do so in the future. We also give customers the ability to change, extend and modify those apps. That’s powerful functionality, and it’s what our customers need and want.

Innovative Technologies for Competitive Advantage
Rob Glickman kicked off this blog series with a discussion about innovation as the real value of the cloud. By moving to the cloud, companies can quickly access the latest innovative technologies and applications to achieve competitive advantage. And SAP, having recognized this critical and intrinsic value, offers cloud solutions based on powerful new technologies, like the SAP HANA database, to ensure our customers stay ahead of the pack.

Up Next: A Deep Dive into SAP SaaS Offerings
I’ve given you a high level overview of SAP cloud solutions and how we differ from other vendors. Next up is a deeper look at our SaaS offerings—stay tuned soon for that post. I enjoy reading through your comments, so please share your thoughts and questions.

Please share your thoughts in the comment space below or tweet to me: @prakashdarji

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