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SAP HANA Cloud Platform: Digital Transformation Made Easy

Digital transformation means rethinking the way your company interacts with its business environment – a huge challenge, even for IT departments.

Software updates, enhancements, and new developments have to be quicker to implement than ever before, yet still integrate seamlessly with existing processes and systems. We met with Dirk Basenach, vice president of SAP HANA Cloud Platform and Platform Security at SAP, to find out how SAP’s platform approach can help.

Q: How is digital transformation changing the tasks handled by companies’ IT departments?

A: Companies need to enhance their products and services “digitally” if they want to stay competitive. That means creating new data-driven customer experiences, business models, and unique selling points – in all departments, from production and logistics through to marketing and service. The related changes need to be integrated into their existing systems quickly and be consistent with a sustainable corporate and IT strategy.

That’s where SAP HANA Cloud Platform comes in. Its “platform-as-a-service” (PaaS) format enables customers to bring on-premise landscapes, cloud infrastructures, business networks, and business analytics together effortlessly – giving developers and business users the flexibility they need to develop and implement new apps and functions quickly and easily.

How exactly does it work?

SAP HANA Cloud Platform is based on the SAP HANA in-memory database and open standards – ideal conditions, in other words, for mastering the complex and heterogeneous challenges of the digital economy in an IT infrastructure and application architecture that is as simple, safe, and standardized as possible. For front-end and back-end systems alike.

The platform approach ensures that enhancements and new developments on SAP HANA Cloud Platform harmonize with existing and future SAP applications as best as possible. In addition, it allows our customers to leverage the many benefits of SAP HANA technology – such as the ability to process even huge data volumes in real time, predictive analytics, or text mining.

The PaaS offering is available in SAP data centers around the world, which means that customers can choose where they want to run their solutions. Summing up, SAP HANA Cloud Platform makes it possible for our customers to implement individual solutions for their specific requirements in a timely and efficient fashion.

What are the core “operational” tasks of SAP HANA Cloud Platform?

SAP HANA Cloud Platform serves as a central platform for the development, enhancement, and integration of both SAP and third-party solutions in the cloud – instantly providing threefold added-value.

As development platform, SAP HANA Cloud Platform is based on open standards and supports common programming languages such as Java and Java Script as well as a variety of connection protocols such as https and Web Socket. In addition to supporting modern micro services-based architectures, it is home to a growing selection of preconfigured business services from SAP and SAP partners. Currently, the offering includes around 40 such micro services with real business logic for things like tax calculation and customer profile maintenance. And SAP continually delivers new functionality, allowing developers to quickly realize completely new and sophisticated processes, applications, or business models as well.

Second, SAP HANA Cloud Platform provides a full range of options and technologies for enhancing existing SAP standard processes and applications. No matter whether you’re dealing with unique requirements or general tasks within your digital transformation and whether the corresponding processes are mapped in the cloud or on premise – predefined access to the appropriate interfaces ensures secure communication.

Third, customers that want to run SAP and third-party solutions have to integrate these systems with one another so that they operate on the same database and follow the same processes. SAP HANA Cloud Platform provides the necessary infrastructure for this, complete with preconfigured services and content for process and data integration – regardless of whether the customer wants to run their solution in the cloud, on premise, or in a hybrid model.

When does it make most sense to use the platform, in your view?

For example, whenever you need to deploy mobile applications and end devices, develop modern user interfaces, or quickly establish an omni-channel interaction between customers, partners, and suppliers. In addition, special Internet of Things services enable our customers to connect and manage their machines and devices quickly and conveniently – automatic on- and off-boarding of devices included. “Remote service management” and “predictive maintenance” are two more examples that benefit from the platform. Big Data services can help you process enormous data volumes from the Internet of Things directly and in real time and trigger downstream business processes. To put it in a nutshell, SAP HANA Cloud Platform offers companies a comprehensive infrastructure for implementing their Internet of Things scenarios.

And is the platform proving popular with SAP customers?

Yes, extremely! Let me give you an example: The food products company Danone is a long-standing customer of ours. Thanks to SAP HANA Cloud Platform, it was able to quickly create Web-based, user-friendly applications for its customer relationship management and get round the release cycles of its on-premise installation. So without any major up-front investment, Danone was able to improve its customer contact with a call center in South Africa as well as customer experience with a German Web shop. And it did so quickly and inexpensively, completing the entire project under budget and ahead of schedule.

Last but not least, our customers also benefit from our extensive partner network, since SAP partners can also use the platform to develop and offer new solutions to their own and to SAP customers. More than 370 partners currently take part in the program and have already implemented more than 150 intuitive applications on SAP HANA Cloud Platform.

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