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Demystifying SAP HANA Cloud Platform

by Dan Lahl and Marc Geall | insiderPROFILES, Volume 7, Issue 3

July 11, 2016

Hand holding glass ball with cloud inside

SAP HANA promises to revolutionize enterprise IT, and for many organizations, SAP HANA Cloud Platform is an ideal way to realize this promise. This platform-as-a-service (PaaS) solution enables organizations to agilely build and integrate applications, rapidly innovate, and develop a successful strategy for digital transformations. Discover six real-world examples of how organizations are already leveraging SAP HANA Cloud Platform to power their digital transformation – and learn how you can do the same.    

One of the major announcements revealed at SAPPHIRE NOW 2016 was SAP’s release of SAP Connected Health, a platform that connects a broad ecosystem of partners with a shared goal of improving healthcare. The idea for SAP Connected Health, which runs on SAP HANA Cloud Platform, sprang from a noble goal of bringing together researchers, healthcare organizations, and other stakeholders on a shared platform to reduce costs, improve patient outcomes, and bring innovative solutions to market.

This is just one of many recent examples of innovative new solutions that organizations are achieving with SAP HANA Cloud Platform, SAP’s platform-as-a-service (PaaS) solution; customers and partners can now agilely build, integrate, and extend new or existing business applications and take advantage of rapid innovation cycles.

With several use cases, SAP HANA Cloud Platform underpins all aspects of SAP’s overall application and cloud strategy as an invaluable component of a successful digital transformation initiative, one that partners and customers are using to re-imagine and re-invent key business processes. The platform’s viability as a springboard for innovation is borne out by impressive adoption rates; more than 2,700 customers and approximately 450 existing partners have already discovered SAP HANA Cloud Platform as an engine to rapidly extend or build new innovative apps. They are also using the platform to integrate multiple SAP and non-SAP systems together, making it easy to consume a variety of robust cloud applications on a single enterprise-ready, in-memory platform. More than 1,000 ready-for-use applications are available from the SAP HANA App Center, which customers are using to fill white spaces in functionality, integrate with on-premise landscapes, customize existing applications, and extend their mobile footprint with mobile-first apps. All of this is available to any developer because SAP HANA Cloud Platform is utilizing open software components like Cloud Foundry, Java, node.js, and application programming interfaces (APIs).

As a vehicle with which to optimize current and future SAP investments, SAP HANA Cloud Platform simply makes sense in accordance with the overall SAP application and cloud strategy. From the standpoint of the business application, SAP’s product strategy is based on SAP S/4HANA; and in this context, SAP HANA Cloud Platform can be viewed as the innovation and agility layer that allows customers and partners to reinvent and evolve business models more quickly than relying solely on the implementation or migration to the next-generation business suite. There are several reasons for this: First, customers can quickly customize business applications in SAP HANA Cloud Platform’s open-source, Java-based framework and directly connect to the relevant business data using APIs. Second, this opportunity for rapid innovation speaks to the SAP cloud go-to-market strategy of being able to quickly extend or explore new line-of-business use cases. Third, as a platform that partners are using to build repeatable, reusable apps, SAP HANA Cloud Platform helps to generate new, recurring revenue streams and to enable partners to reinvent business models. As a whole, SAP HANA Cloud Platform as a core for innovation exemplifies SAP’s overall strategy as an innovation partner for customers to capitalize on digital opportunities to transform their business.

A Common Innovation Core

Every line of business and end user can appreciate the practicalities SAP HANA Cloud Platform can offer in making it easier to engage with technology and improve day-to-day business activity and performance. Whether it’s sales executives who wants to better understand their customers, procurement professionals who are transitioning to new supply chain processes, or field technicians who want real-time appointment updates, the need for rapid innovation and more agility — consumed anywhere and everywhere — so an enterprise can differentiate itself from its competition simply resonates with today’s business users.

What is interesting and different from how customers used to interact with technology is that, for many SAP HANA Cloud Platform customers, the platform itself is of little consequence; what’s important is the innovation and functionality it empowers the enterprise to deliver. Interacting with SAP HANA Cloud Platform is similar to how people interact with apps on their personal smartphones. They don’t really care or know about the underlying technology; they just know it is intuitive, makes their lives easier, and can be installed and running in mere minutes. Just as with personal apps, with SAP HANA Cloud Platform, much of the hard development and back-end integration work can be done by partners. Organizations can extract value without ever having to do any of the heavy lifting.

Interacting with SAP HANA Cloud Platform is similar to how people interact with apps on their personal smartphones. They don’t really care or know about the underlying technology; they just know it is intuitive, makes their lives easier, and can be installed and running in mere minutes.

Boots on the Ground: The Platform in Action

An examination of that value in deeper context reveals six distinct use cases that can be extrapolated from SAP HANA Cloud Platform as a foundation to build, integrate, and extend applications. First, with SAP HANA Cloud Platform, partners and customers are building solution extensions that seamlessly extend their SAP and non-SAP applications in the cloud. An example of this is the Accenture HR Audit and Compliance as-a-service solution extension. This service tool integrates with SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central and enhances reporting capabilities by automatically checking human resources (HR) data against specified criteria and rules.

Second, organizations are using SAP HANA Cloud Platform to better engage with customers and empower employees. The National Football League (NFL) does this with its NFL Fantasy Football player comparison tool, which NFL fans and fantasy players use to punch up real-time statistics for every player, so they can optimize their fantasy teams in real time.

Third, SAP HANA Cloud Platform can be used to deliver mobile-first apps that seamlessly tie into a back-end system. Whirlpool, for example, built out an HR portal with mobile access and online and offline delivery for employees and managers to simplify how they interact with their personal data and HR approvals.

The fourth use case is using the platform to personalize a company’s business suite applications, including SAP S/4HANA. Examples of SAP HANA Cloud Platform for custom development include GENBAND customizing SAP Hybris Cloud for Customer and using SAP HANA Cloud Platform to build what it calls a “Portal for Everything.” Because it integrates all relevant call ticketing applications across a number of vendor applications all on a common platform, there is a common look and feel for customers, employees, and partners.

The final two common use cases from which to drive innovation with SAP HANA Cloud Platform are to deliver a modern, intuitive user experience (UX) with SAP Fiori, the UI development toolkit for HTML5 (SAPUI5), or even now native iOS, which can give any business application a consumer-grade look and feel. Jaguar Land Rover, for example, piloted a new e-commerce site on an SAP Fiori-based framework with SAP HANA Cloud Platform in just eight weeks. Lastly, by tapping into SAP HANA’s processing power, SAP HANA Cloud Platform can help business users analyze even the largest data volumes and deliver it to analysts and decision-makers with state-of-the-art visualizations. This was Capgemini’s approach in developing its Predictive Asset Maintenance application, which asset-intensive companies are using to reduce the cost of asset management while also improving reliability and availability.

Driving innovation with SAP HANA Cloud Platform isn’t limited to organizations, or for partners to build client-specific solution extensions. The aforementioned SAP Connected Health example is just one of two dozen existing partner networks running on SAP HANA Cloud Platform. The concept behind partner networks on SAP HANA Cloud Platform is to provide an open and public platform for like-minded stakeholders to collaborate, share ideas, and simplify the user experience for the end consumer who ultimately benefits from the wellspring of innovation that SAP HANA Cloud Platform enables.

For much of SAP’s history as a developer of robust best-in-class, business-ready software and applications, the technology innovation cycle moved at a steady pace, and that pace continues with the SAP S/4HANA application suite. But today’s enterprise requires a platform for rapid business innovation and differentiation as well. SAP HANA Cloud Platform embodies this new dynamic as a partner for innovation in any organization’s journey to digitization and business transformation.

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Dan Lahl
Dan Lahl

Vice President of Product Marketing, SAP

Dan Lahl has been in high tech for over 30 years, with extensive experience in data management, warehousing, and analytics. Dan is currently focused on growing the SAP HANA Cloud Platform business.

Marc Geall
Marc Geall

Senior Vice President of SAP Platform Partner Ecosystem, SAP

Marc Geall is a member of SAP’s executive leadership team who is responsible for helping partners develop and commercialize IP on SAP platforms to generate additional business value like never before.

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