Microsoft and SAP have expanded their working relationship to allow the HANA platform to be run on the Azure cloud.
SAP also announced a new version of HANA with improved data features and the ability to help IT teams better manage a HANA maintenance lifecycle programme.
HANA on Azure allows companies to use SAP’s in-memory database platform in familiar Microsoft Azure cloud environments, rather than needing to access the services through another cloud platform such as Amazon Web Services.
The partnership will establish integrations between Microsoft Office 365 and the S/4 HANA business suite of applications.
Put simply, this provides the ability to use SAP’s Concur software to manage expenses and plan trips within Microsoft Outlook rather than needing to bounce between the two services.
Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella outlined the benefits of the partnership to Office 365 users.
“Together with SAP, we are bringing new levels of integration between our products that provide businesses with enhanced collaboration tools, new insights from data and a hyper-scale cloud to grow and seize new opportunities ahead,” he said.
Bill McDermott, SAP’s chief executive, echoed Nadella’s words, claiming that the expanded partnership could shake up the enterprise IT industry.
“The certification of Microsoft Azure’s infrastructure services for SAP HANA, along with the new integration between Microsoft Office 365 and cloud solutions from SAP, are emblematic of this major paradigm shift for the enterprise,” he said.
Providing Azure as a cloud platform for HANA is a way for Microsoft to expand the scope of the cloud service and at the same time give SAP more flexibility in the deployments of HANA it can offer customers.
But the slightly unusual aspect is that Microsoft has a strong partnership with Salesforce, a rival of SAP’s in customer relationship management software and increasingly in data platforms. But evidently the benefits of being based on Azure outweigh any rivalry SAP has with Salesforce.
The new release of HANA adds the ability to process and visualise graph data to better glean patterns between business operations and customer relationships, aiding the detection of fraud and finding new business opportunities.
The new version also includes a capture and reply feature that enables IT teams to capture data on workloads and run it on a targeted system to assess its performance.
This allows companies to test the performance and robustness of tweaked and upgraded systems before rolling them out to live production situations.
SAP is also providing this HANA upgrade in an SME version dubbed Edge that offers the flexibility to move from costly in-memory storage to cheaper alternatives without compromising the use of an industry tested enterprise resource planning system.
Boosting the scope of HANA is a savvy move by SAP as it will help to win small and large business customers, such as Transport for London, which is using HANA for IoT and big data processing.
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