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SAP and the Cloud

Updated: Dec 16, 2020

Until the advent of the internet, software applications were delivered in a physical for e.g. floppy disk or CDs.

In the early 2010s, the concept of cloud computing led to a paradigm shift in how software businesses provided their solution to their customer. Rather than one big release of the software update applications could be wirelessly delivered, enhancements or updates can be pushed quickly.

SAP transitioned its ERP software strategy in early 2010s with the advent of SAP Hana database and SAP S/Hana and they began to march towards the cloud with the acquisition of Ariba, SucessFactor, and Concur. SAP has since encouraged customers to move from their on-premises to the cloud.

Advantages of Cloud Solutions

There are numerous reasons why a company wants to take advantage of the cloud solution by moving their critical and non-critical applications to the cloud.

For Starters, companies does not have the IT support infrastructure and leasing cloud solutions relieves them from system maintenance. Similarly, they can scale without investing huge cost and allows companies to focus on business rather than managing the system backend.

Companies can save even more time and money by utilizing software-as-a-service solutions as they lower the time to value with a different implementation timeframe than on-premise versions.

Disadvantages of Cloud Solutions

The main drawback to utilizing a cloud solution is that it limits the amount of customization an organization can make to the software. This may be unappealing to businesses that require the high level of flexibility that only an on-premise solution can provide.

SAP Cloud Platform

SAP Cloud Platform (formerly known as SAP HANA Cloud Platform), is SAP’s platform-as-a-service offering. It connects with internal networks via a tool called Cloud Connector.

SAP Cloud Platform can be run alongside existing on-premise solutions by utilizing SAP Cloud Platform Integration to facilitate information exchange.

With SAP Cloud Platform, users can perform analytics with tools like SAP Analytics Cloud, lower-level business services such as taxes, collaborate with other departments or businesses, custom apps and extensions for specific business purposes, integrate with other solutions, help businesses create mobile-friendly services, and provide stronger database and solution security.

There are two “flavors” of SAP Cloud Platform. The first, called Neo, is focused on cloud capabilities available from SAP‘s own data centers and allows users to connect to SAP ERP solutions. The second, Cloud Foundry, is focused around any data center that meets a set of specific requirements and allows more extensibility options for developers and hyperscalers.

There are seven building blocks upon which an SAP Cloud Platform is built:

  1. Programming models: SAP Cloud Platform is language agnostic, allowing developers to utilize any one of a handful of programming languages. Commonly used scripts include ABAP, Java, Node.js, Ruby, Go, Python, PHP, and Groovy.

  2. Dev/Ops: Dev/Ops is a set of tools for improving the relationship and cooperation between developers and operations staff. Dev/Ops includes the following tools: development, lifecycle management, profiling, monitoring, debugging, and performance statistics.

  3. Business services: Business services is a set of enterprise-ready capabilities that can be used to accelerate the development of cloud apps.

  4. Platform services: Platform services is a set of technical capabilities that can be used to develop applications in the cloud and bring innovation into the business. These include services such as machine learning, the Internet of Things, and mobility.

  5. Data and storage services: Data management and storage with SAP Cloud Platform can be accomplished in a number of ways, using databases such as SAP Adaptive Server Enterprise (ASE), PostgreSQL, Redis, MongoDB, SAP HANA, Hadoop, and SAP Vora.

  6. Multicloud and Cloud Foundry: The SAP Cloud Platform SDK for the Cloud Foundry environment helps you leverage a multicloud architecture, and leverage the major hyperscale vendors, such as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure.

  7. Virtual machines: SAP Cloud Platform Virtual Machine allows organizations to deploy, run, and manage applications for scenarios that complement or extend SAP Cloud Platform solutions.

SAP Cloud Solutions

SAP has taken a two-pronged strategy to growing its suite of cloud solutions. It has developed certain solutions in house, while others have been added to its portfolio via an aggressive acquisitions strategy.

SAP has taken combination of two different strategies for growing its suite of cloud solutions. It has developed certain solutions in house, while others they added to its portfolio via an acquisitions strategy.

SAP Analytics Cloud

This is built on top of the SAP on Cloud capabilities. SAP Analytics Cloud is a business intelligence (BI) solution that combines planning, BI, and predictive analytics capabilities. Highlighted features include analytics for both cloud and on-premise applications, data connectivity and blending from across different applications, smart assist features like smart insight, data visualization stories, collaborations, and more.

SAP Ariba

SAP Ariba is a collection of applications that manages procurement activities of an organisation. This includes supplier collaboration, contract and invoice management, and spend analysis.

SAP Business ByDesign

SAP Business ByDesign is a pre-configured ERP solution for medium-sized businesses that are looking for a robust ERP. It includes features from finance, customer relationship management, human resources, project management, procurement, and supply chain management.

SAP Concur

SAP is acquired in 2014 and it is a travel and expense management application which can be utilized by employees to book business travel, get reimbursed for expenses incurred, and reconcile other employee-related, non-compensation-based finances.

SAP Customer Experience

SAP Customer Experience is a customer experience suite of solutions that consists of five cloud applications: SAP Commerce Cloud, SAP Customer Data Cloud, SAP Marketing Cloud, SAP Sales Cloud, and SAP Service Cloud.

SAP Data Warehouse Cloud

SAP Data Warehouse Cloud is a data warehouse built upon features from existing SAP data warehousing tools SAP BW, SAP BW/4HANA, and SAP HANA.

SAP Digital Manufacturing Cloud

SAP Digital Manufacturing Cloud is a collection of three applications (SAP Digital Manufacturing Cloud for insights, SAP Digital Manufacturing Cloud for execution, and SAP Digital Manufacturing Network) built to complement or replace the existing SAP Manufacturing Execution and SAP Plant Connectivity solutions.

SAP Fieldglass

SAP Fieldglass is an application focused on finding and hiring contingent workers such as temps or contract workers. It can be used to fill labor shortages that occur when demand is higher than expected or when existing labor is no longer able to complete the job. it was also acquired in 2014 by SAP.

SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud

SAP HANA Data Enterprise Cloud is PaaS solution for customers to utilize SAP HANA in a cloud hosted by SAP. Customers utilizing SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud get expert insight on how to run SAP HANA, and can easily manage their operations and scale as desired.

SAP Integrated Business Planning

SAP Integrated Business Planning is a collection of supply chain planning applications that is based on the SAP HANA platform, SAP IBP for sales and operations, SAP IBP for inventory, SAP Supply Chain Control Tower, SAP IBP for demand, SAP IBP for response and supply, and SAP IBP for demand-driven replenishment.

SAP Intelligent Asset Management

A suite of five cloud-based enterprise asset management solutions: SAP Asset Intelligence Network, SAP Asset Strategy and Performance Management, SAP Predictive Maintenance and Service, SAP Predictive Engineering Insights, and SAP Mobile Asset Management.

SAP Logistics Business Network

SAP Logistics Business Network is a centrally located logistics operations tool that provides inter-company collaboration such as developing products among business units, across borders, etc. It is only available in the cloud.

SAP SuccessFactors

It incorporates core HR and talent management features such as recruiting, onboarding, learning, and succession planning. It was initially an independent company before SAP acquired it in 2012.


SAP S/4HANA’s introduction in 2015 was a key point in SAP’s pivot to a cloud-first strategy. Customers of SAP S/4HANA Cloud can currently take advantage of the finance, supply chain and supplier relationship management, sales, and R&D lines of business, with additional functionality such as an HR line of business being planned for delivery in 2022.

SAP S/4HANA Cloud customers get all the benefits of the cloud solutions, as well as the business advantages of SAP HANA’s in-memory computing architecture. This gives them the ability to gain real-time business statistics and analytics.

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