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What SAP users should take away from the recent Microsoft announcement

by Chris Vassalotti, Managing Director – SAP Solutions (ERP-Link)

SAP and Microsoft usher in new era of partnership to accelerate digital transformation in the cloud.

Microsoft and SAP made some exciting announcements at Sapphire last week. Let’s take a look at what was announced and what was presented at Sapphire Now:

New Deployment Option: SAP HANA on the Microsoft Azure cloud

With SAP HANA on Azure, organizations across all industries will be able to deliver mission-critical applications and data analytics on a global scale with enterprise-grade security and compliance. Working together, the companies are certifying SAP HANA to run development, test and production workloads on Microsoft Azure, including SAP S/4HANA. These new offerings for SAP HANA are built to handle customers’ largest and most demanding workloads.

HANA running in Azure is a positive step for customers who want to take advantage of the Microsoft Cloud. Given the high cost of compute power required to “Run Simple” or “Run Live” on the In-Memory HANA database, the Azure Infrastructure provides significant cost management opportunities.

I was able to attend a session with Gimmal partner Alegri International Group, who are running S/4HANA in production in Azure. They were excited with Azure’s ability to only run systems when needed. For instance, they are able to shut down their development and test environments on nights and weekends. That cuts the cost of running these two Azure G4, 16 Core, 224GB machines nearly in half.

There are other natural advantages to controlling the costs of HANA and S/4HANA running in Azure. Traditionally, unstructured content (documents) stored in the SAP database can grow to 30% of the total database size. Industry examples show a 1TB HANA device can cost as much as $1.3M Annually to run. That’s $1,325/GB/Year. Every gigabyte of unstructured content companies can remove from HANA provides more room for high-value data.

SAP themselves are the first to say so. The SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA Cookbook (SAP, August 4 2015) advises: “You can reduce capital and operating hardware costs as well as other operating costs by shrinking the size of your database… Therefore it is strongly recommended to perform housekeeping and remove any unnecessary data.“

Given this advice from SAP, Office 365 becomes a great, cost-effective cloud option for SAP document management. With the only SAP Certified HTTP Content Server integration for Office 365, Gimmal is in an excellent position to offer these customers solutions that align with their Microsoft, SAP or AWS Cloud strategies.

Cloud Services Integrations: Public Cloud Solutions from SAP and Office 365

Every day, millions of business users work in Microsoft and SAP® solutions, creating documents, reading e-mails, filing expense reports, invoicing vendors and more. New integrations between the companies will combine Office 365 communications, collaboration, calendar, documents and other data with cloud solutions from SAP, including Concur, SAP Fieldglass®, SAP SuccessFactors®, and SAP Ariba® solutions, helping employees improve their overall productivity.

SAP and Microsoft also talked about integration to Office 365, but these conversations were almost exclusively focused around SAP SaaS offerings and Office 365 email and calendaring. No examples or direction on the roadmap for document management integration for these cloud services was apparent.

In addition, the announcement and Sapphire conference really steered clear of discussing S/4HANA integration to Office 365. Whether this is driven by SAP’s allegiance to OpenText as their Solution Extension for ECM, or a continued lack of understanding into the value documents have to all aspect of the business, it doesn’t seem that SAP will be promoting integration to Office 365 for ECM anytime in the near future.

Integrations to S/4HANA, ECC, and Microsoft still seem to be focused on the SAP gateway strategy, which is largely concerned with data interoperability and not particularly relevant to enterprise content management (ECM).

In summary, there is a lot to be gained by joint Microsoft and SAP customers within the Microsoft Cloud. SAP has stated they are for multi-cloud and cloud independence and they recognize the SAP Cloud might not be the right place for everything. No matter what your cloud strategy is, Microsoft should receive strong consideration for your SAP ECM needs and Gimmal’s SAP Certified solutions can likewise help companies get the most out of Microsoft.

By Jude O'Neill

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