SAP looks to long-time ally IBM for help expanding in the cloud

SAP’s Hana Enterprise Cloud service will be made available through IBM’s global cloud infrastructure, in a move that expands options for customers around the world who are considering moving their business applications off-premises to the cloud.

The deal will give SAP access to a total of 60 data centers between its own and IBM’s, said Kevin Ichhpurani, senior vice president and head of Business Development and Strategic Ecosystem at SAP.

Revelations over the past year or so about domestic surveillance by U.S. intelligence agencies have raised concerns over data sovereignty and data privacy among global enterprises.

The arrangement with IBM gives SAP much greater ability to meet those concerns, which have been especially high among customers in Europe and parts of Asia, Ichhpurani said.

IBM and SAP are long-time partners and in fact, IBM has already included SAP applications in its family of Cloud Managed Services.

But with Tuesday’s announcement, SAP expands the access of Hana Enterprise Cloud, which is its own managed service, to IBM’s infrastructure. Hana, SAP’s in-memory computing platform, is at the heart of HEC.

SAP will provide “one throat to choke” for customers whose applications end up running on HEC through an IBM data center or centers, Ichhpurani said.

SAP will integrate its cloud system tools with IBM’s cloud infrastructure, giving SAP personnel the ability to do the provisioning and management of customers’ application landscapes, he said.

However, many SAP customers still run their software on-premises and may plan to for the long term. To that end, also Tuesday SAP announced it would extend mainstream support for its Business Suite 7 applications as well as freeze maintenance costs for new support contracts until 2025, saying this would give on-premises customers some peace of mind as they figure out how to move to the cloud.

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