SAP, like IBM, has been very active in the Cloud/PaaS space. SAP’s HANA Cloud Platform (HCP) is seen as an integral direction for SAP’s customers. On the surface it would seem that HCP and IBM Bluemix are mutually exclusive, however, in reality there is a compelling case to be made for Bluemix in an SAP environment as complimentary patterns exist. There are definitely fit for purpose scenarios for both to fulfill a SAP customer digital transformation.
When would you chose one over the other? It comes down to the services and API’s that are available:
- SAP’s HCP provide very good integration services for on-premise SAP systems through pre-defined integration content, the ability to build Apps on SAP’s proprietary Fiori User Interface, built-in HANA database and corresponding big data functions, e.g. SAP’s predictive analytics. SAP IoT HCP is very much tailored to an SAP environment;
- Bluemix provides access to IBM Watson Cognitive and IoT services (big considerations!), can be deployed on premise, provides more development runtimes than SAP HCP, e.g. Node.js, Ruby on Rails, PHP, etc., and is open for custom development languages based on Cloud Foundry. Bluemix focus is on the wide ranging enterprise and beyond. As well as, Bluemix can effectively integrate with SAP footprints.
However, in many use cases a hybrid combination of HCP and Bluemix would be a good choice, e.g., develop on SAP HCP a Fiori App, but call services from Bluemix (cognitive and other) whilst leveraging Bluemix’s richer development models. In many cases a SAP customer environment is very diverse and more than just SAP. Again, Bluemix is viewed by many industry analysts as being more enterprise ready then HCP. So, the net of it we will see many SAP customers leveraging HCP in conjunction with a very complimentary Bluemix and Watson Cognitive and IoT offerings. Many Watson Cognitive APIs already exist that would benefit an SAP environment to fundamentally transform, by embedded cognitive methods, and deliver insights and recommendations at point of impact.
Agility is a concept that many SAP customers tried to achieve but find it difficult due to the monolithic nature of SAP ERP. SAP’s monolithic Change & Release Management (CRM) process with the inter-dependencies of different object’s leading to having “release bundles” that move through the landscape at a slow pace are at odds to the concept of agility. Agility is/was not possible for many customers with SAP environments. Using Bluemix for developing extensions to an SAP platform, by default, provides an agile approach by nature of design, build and deployment.
So, let’s dig a little deeper on how Bluemix can provide unique capabilities. Here are some areas where Bluemix adds additional capabilities to a SAP customer that has HCP:
- Provides access to IBM Watson cognitive services, allowing apps to learn, reason, and consider context;
- Bluemix offers features beyond pure PaaS, e.g. virtual machines, container deployment;
- IBM Container is a powerful feature to develop apps in any development language and deploy them on any OS;
- Provides more development models, e.g. Node.js, Ruby on Rails, PHP, etc… and is open for custom development languages based on Cloud Foundry;
- Cloud Connect;
- Appliance based Pure Application Software with Bluemix Local;
- Standards based management tools via OpenStack;
- Support OpenStack and TOSCA standards;
- Multi-instance and Multi-Tenant;
- Blockchain enablement;
- and others.
In many cases SAP customers already rely on a combination of IBM Software with their environments that include SAP. In many cases those customers have already established that there is great value in a complimentary approach with IBM and SAP. In this way SAP customers can leverage the best of both worlds with HCP and Bluemix. Utilize, as mentioned above, the uniqueness for Bluemix and establish the need for Cognitive services, enterprise scale and standards support of Bluemix. Whilst, using HCP for the proprietary SAP tooling such as Fiori and other, as well as, SAP prebuilt content.
For SAP customers the combination of HCP and Bluemix will provide a unique digital transformation and open many new avenues to capabilities such as Blockchain, Watson and others.