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.
IBM, SAP Expand Partnership to Drive Digital Transformation
“This is the kind of move we expected when IBM bought SoftLayer,” longtime IBM watcher and industry analyst Rob Enderle told eWEEK at the time of the deal. “IBM can provide an enterprise-class cloud service now that is fully compliant with IT policy, and this is generally also a requirement when deploying products from enterprise companies like SAP.
“You should anticipate other deals like this for similar reasons with other vendors of all sizes that want access to enterprise buyers and need to supply cloud services while remaining compliant with corporate policies on security and access. IBM’s brand is tightly connected to the enterprise and it is well-regarded when it comes to compliance so IT shops know their decisions to use cloud products on IBM’s services generally won’t be challenged by audit as aggressively as they might be had they used a service like Amazon’s instead,” continued Enderle, now president and principal analyst of the Enderle Group.
Under the expanded partnership, the companies will develop collaborative consulting models. And IBM Interactive Experience (iX), the digital agency that falls under the aegis of IBM Global Business Services, will work together with SAP Global Design and the SAP Customer Engagement and Commerce team on projects. The collaboration will also apply IBM’s iOS design skills for mobile user experiences, IBM said.
“I think that the partnership is good for both companies,” said Judith Hurwitz, president and CEO of Hurwitz & Associates. “These companies have had a collaborative relationship for years. I think that it has deepened because of two issues. One is the competition in the applications market with Oracle. Second, IBM provides a lot of consulting services for customers implementing SAP’s offerings.
“IBM has had a lot of success with HANA services—especially on the Power platform,” she continued. “Power turns out to be an optimized platform that is perfect for HANA workloads. This also gives SAP a deep services bench for its offerings. On the IBM side, it enables the company to have a channel for cloud, mobile and cognitive. It is a pragmatic and advantageous deepening relationship for both companies.”
Last year, IBM and SAP tightened their existing technology partnership with a new set of integrated Power Systems solutions designed to help clients process volumes of data at high speed for both transactional and analytics workloads.
Under the expanded partnership, IBM and SAP will enable client engagements for hybrid and on-premise offerings with SAP HANA on IBM Power systems, supported through the new IBM Power Systems Center of Excellence for SAP HANA in Austin, Texas. And IBM will develop cognitive solutions for SAP S/4HANA and line-of-business solutions that tap into the power of IBM’s cognitive APIs.
“This new announcement signals a significant deepening of the strategic collaboration IBM and SAP launched last October,” said Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT. “That original effort resulted in SAP gaining considerable advantages by leveraging IBM resources, including its global network of cloud data centers. This new announcement expands that effort to include IBM’s cognitive technologies and product/service design skills, including its efforts around Apple’s iOS and mobile devices. IBM is also a beneficiary of the relationship by being closely aligned with SAP’s widely deployed enterprise applications and its HANA in-memory platform. This expanded collaboration and related investments should deliver considerable benefits to both companies, along with their shared and prospective customers.”