IBM, SAP Expand Partnership to Drive Digital Transformation

IBM and SAP plan to use IBM cognitive capabilities, IBM Cloud and Power Systems and SAP HANA technology to advance their existing partnership.

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As IBM continues on its journey to help its clients move toward digital transformation, the company is relying on partnerships with its allies as well as on its core technology to give companies a leg up in making the transition.

For instance, IBM and Box on April 7 announced plans to collaborate on an IBM MobileFirst for iOS application that will help transform sales organizations. This week, Big Blue announced a sweeping enhancement to its already close partnership with SAP, in which IBM will further introduce its cognitive and analytics capabilities, as well as IBM Cloud and Power Systems technology into the mix.

The companies said they will jointly produce solutions that reach into the cognitive era—solutions that feature their own intelligence to assist users and to provide insight to businesses. The solutions also will advance user experience with superior design and will feature industry-specific functionality, the companies said. On the SAP side, the new offerings will be powered by SAP Business Suite 4 SAP HANA (SAP S/4HANA) software, available on-premise and in the cloud.

"The future of business strategy and business value will proceed from the foundational elements of this announcement—cognitive, cloud and the design of consumer-quality experiences in every industry," Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president of IBM Global Business Services, said in a statement. "We're formalizing a complementary set of capabilities to simplify and speed outcomes for clients evolving to become cognitive enterprises."

The companies plan to co-locate resources in Walldorf, Germany, and Palo Alto, Calif. In addition, the companies said they will showcase new solutions and thought leadership to clients in IBM, SAP innovation centers around the world. IBM has innovation centers in Germany. In fact, at the end of last year, IBM selected Munich as the location for its Watson Internet of Things (IoT) unit.

"Today's announcement builds on SAP's commitment to enable strong, growing businesses that can seize the amazing opportunities of the digital economy," Rob Enslin, member of the Executive Board of SAP SE and president of Global Customer Operations at SAP, said in a statement. "SAP S/4HANA is the reimagined suite of core business applications that has once again set the standard for the industry."

The two companies will draw on the partnership between IBM and SAP for SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud services announced in October 2014 to scale the IBM cloud platform. In addition, IBM and SAP will collaborate on industry-specific cloud solutions and expand current SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud services to include ongoing application maintenance and support services, Kralingen said.

With the 2014 deal, the companies made the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud offering now available through IBM's cloud. SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud then expanded to major markets with the addition of the IBM cloud data centers. The goal was to enable customers to deploy their SAP software around the globe in a faster and more secure environment backed by IBM's cloud capabilities.