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IBM Aims To Move SAP Customers to Its SmartCloud Service

IBM has offered SAP consulting, integration and implementation services for decades so it should come as little surprise that it's looking to migrate those customers to the cloud. What's surprising is that an unlikely rival beat Big Blue to the punch -- and I'm not referring to Accenture, Capgemini or Hewlett-Packard.

Amazon Web Services and SAP made a big splash together at re: Invent, AWS's first-ever customer, developer and partner conference held in late November. AWS has certified SAP's key offerings to run in EC2, including the SAP Business Suite, HANA One, Business All-in-One, Business Objects BI solutions, SAP Rapid Deployment Solutions (RDS) and Afaria.

While more customers by far use Amazon's EC2 to host their systems and apps than any other cloud service provider, IBM officials aren't worried about their customers fleeing. Dennis Quan, IBM's VP of SmartCloud services, argues Amazon can't match IBM's 99.7 percent SLA combined with its Business Consulting Services and industry-specific SAP expertise. As you may recall, IBM back in October launched SmartCloud Application Services (SCAS), a platform as a service (PaaS) offering for enterprises to run production applications. This is the first SCAS deliverable and Quan told me on Monday that it goes beyond just letting customers host SAP instances.

"What we're doing is building on a base of dedicated services to enterprise clients and coupling that with specific expertise in SAP," Quan said. For now, IBM is only offering the SAP Business Suite and Business Objects BI portfolio as a managed PaaS offering. Asked if there are plans to support other SAP products, notably HANA, the company's rapidly growing in-memory database platform, Quan said IBM isn't prepared to discuss future offerings.

IBM of course has its own database offerings, notably DB2, and many of its SAP customers already use it. Asked if his company has concerns that customers will choose HANA over DB2, Quan didn't rule out offering SAP's database. "Our customers run a variety of workloads," he said. "A lot of then make use of IBM technologies and a lot use technology from competitors."

The SAP service is the first of a number of software as a service (SaaS) offerings IBM will offer under its SmartCloud umbrella in the coming year, according to Quan.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 01/29/2013 at 12:48 PM


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