Tech titans Microsoft and SAP are expanding to the cloud their decades-old relationship. On Monday, the companies announced that various SAP applications are being certified for Microsoft's Azure cloud platform.
The applications include SAP's Business Suite, Business All-in-One, Adaptive Server Enterprise database, SAP Mobile Platform, SAP Adaptive Server Enterprise, and the developer edition of its Hana in-memory computing platform. Through SAP's Cloud Appliance Library, the companies said that preconfigured software packages will launch quickly.
In a post Monday on The Official Microsoft Blog, Microsoft corporate VP Takeshi Numoto said that this arrangement means customers will be able to get the benefits of using SAP software on Microsoft's enterprise-grade public cloud. His post indicates that SAP software is currently used by a significant enterprise base, including 86 percent of the global Fortune 500.
Retail and Banking-Specific Apps
The two companies have also agreed on a technical support and service arrangement where Microsoft handles infrastructure problems, SAP takes application ones, and they both work together if the problem still remains unsolved.
Additionally, the companies said that an integrated version of SAP BusinessObjects and Microsoft Power BI will be available through Excel, and an improved SAP Gateway is being launched by Microsoft. The gateway, available by the end of this year, is designed to give customers access to SAP data and processes through Office 365 and Azure.
Also, SAP mobile apps will now support Windows and Windows Phone 8.1. Numoto posted that "industry-specific apps for retail and banking, as well as updated versions of the SAP Mobile Platform with SDKs for Windows and Windows Phone 8.1, are on their way." Previews are expected by the end of this year, while general availability is targeted for next year.
Tech Service and Support
Industry analyst Laura DiDio of Information Technology Intelligence Corp told us that this expanded arrangement will be good for both companies, who are battling in common the cloud-presence of several competitors, notably Oracle.
In February, Oracle made its own Azure announcement, announcing that its WebLogic application server and Java programming language were being made available for Azure.
DiDio added that the availability of SAP apps on Microsoft's Azure platform will also be good for the customers. "Both companies of course have a global reach, and both also have highly regarded technical service and support." The quality and availability of support, DiDio said, will be "the first thing the IT guys ask about."
The availability of the SAP Mobile Platform and related SDKs for Windows Phone, and the industry-specific apps for retail and banking, she pointed out, will be "a huge boost for Microsoft" among business customers.
In April, Microsoft introduced an Azure Preview Portal to assist with multi-platform development of apps for its cloud platform. The Portal is intended to provide an integrated experience for developing and managing an application in one place, with resource and configuration management tools, a new billing system, open source software and Microsoft apps.
Posted: 2014-06-16 @ 1:45pm PT
One of the problems with SAP within ENterprises is that it sometimes becomes seen as the 'only' solution for end to end processes, and without menaing to, business logic can become very tightly coupled to it. Allowing the SAP gateway sounds like a positive move to simplify the data integration capabilities and perhaps loosen the coupling allowing rich business applications to surface data in Office 365 and SharePoint easier and more cost effective than before.