SAP Cloud Platform: 10 minutes with Dan Lahl

SAP Cloud Platform

SAP vice president, product marketing Dan Lahl sat down with Freya Purnell to discuss the SAP Cloud Platform developments launched at SAPPHIRE NOW.

FP: What are some of the key developments SAP customers should be aware of?

DL: One of the things we have really been impressing on customers is we’re a software vendor, we’re not a hardware vendor. So we have been working very diligently, from a cloud perspective, to get out of the infrastructure-as-a-service business. Amazon and Azure and investing is roughly a billion dollars a quarter to make their infrastructure-as-a-service run. We don’t want to be in the business; we want to be in the software business. So we have built [SAP] Cloud Platform as a service that is infrastructure agnostic. So we announced that we’re going GA [general availability] on Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform. So that brings us to the three top hyperscale vendors with SAP Cloud Platform. So now the customer has a choice of co-locating the Cloud Platform product and services to extend or build new, or integrate with, other applications that are co-located at their vendor of choice.

In addition to that, we are also entering into a relationship with the IBM Cloud group, to have SAP Cloud Platform run as a private cloud in IBM cloud data centres. The SAP cloud service is available as a specific instance for each customer that signs up for those services as a private cloud offering for them. So that’s really pushing the idea of multi-cloud and private cloud into new directions.

FP: We heard a lot about “the intelligent enterprise” at SAPPHIRE. How does SAP Cloud Platform contribute here?

DL: Part of the intelligent enterprise includes connecting up all kinds of different applications, whether they run on premise, or whether they run in cloud. So we’re providing two new services to enable and accelerate that for customers. The Cloud Platform Integration Content Advisor allows customers to look at a knowledge base of existing integration flows, that we and other customers have put together, and released as a crowdsource. They can go ahead and consume those integration flows, or they can enrich it and give us to test to make sure it will run against SAP systems. It’s a way to make integration much more agile, much easier, much simpler, for customers to connect up these different applications – whether they be on premise or cloud to cloud.

In addition to that, SAP Open Connectors is a set of connectors to [join] over 150 different non-SAP applications, and make that part of the SAP universe. Let’s say, for example, a customer has Financials, and ERP running on SAP applications, but they have HR with Workday and CRM with Salesforce.com. We’ll now provide connectors directly to those. On the SAP side, we will provide as much enrichment as we can, so that the consumption will be very easy from Workday or Salesforce back into our financial or ERP systems or other applications.

Customers also want to quickly take applications that they have and mobilise them – integrating existing applications that are back-office, desktop-based applications, but integrating their knowledge workers into the application. We’ve had an iOS software development kit for a number of years, for making complex applications. We’re now coming to parity with an SDK for Android devices, as well as our application which allows simple objects to be pushed down to Android devices. So we now cover roughly 99.9% of the market for mobilising applications in a very simple way.

FP: Does that mean customers will be able to create Fiori-based apps for Android devices?

DL: Yes, one of the key things is it is giving them the same experience that we have had with Fiori for iOS. We implemented the Fiori design language in the Android SDK. Android developers are different iOS developers, so we use all the Android SDK features and controls to make that happen, so it’s not a new learning curve that the Android developer has to go through.

FP: Are there any changes to your go-to-market approach with Cloud Platform?

DL: We are going to market the Cloud Platform more and more, directly to customers, showing them use cases that we have seen other customers already implement. Whether that be mobilisation, or Internet of Things, or digital experience transformation, or user experience transformation. We have at this time 20 use case scenarios on cloudplatform.sap.com, which provides [customers] with a blueprint of the technology needs to look like, and how it connects to the enterprise. We have learning journeys for the use case scenarios, videos, and code snippets. Once they have decided this is what they want to do, they can go to a price estimator and we’ll show them for that use case, these are the services they need. Most of the services are available for consumption. So we’re making it very simple for customers to identify projects that have already been tried by others. We have already seen motion in the market for that.

FP: Blockchain is another area we are hearing about a lot at the moment – what level of demand are you seeing from customers?

DL: We have two blockchain services – one for multi-chain and one for hyper-ledger fabric. We actually built those on Cloud Platform, as an OEM to SAP applications, so if an SAP developer wants to add blockchain to a financial application they’re doing, or a track and trace application they’re doing for pharmaceuticals, they will use and embed one of our two services from Cloud Platform into the SAP application. So we’re early in this, and we’ve seen a number of apps coming from SAP, and I think that’s how we will build out the use cases when we get to blockchain. We’ll say here are the SAP applications that are being used and we’ll build out those scenarios to help people frame what blockchain can do. Because right now, it’s a bit blobby, and we have to provide guidance to customers.

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