At the conference, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella also announced similar support on the Azure cloud and said that SAP applications will be integrated into Office 365, which could be SAP's secret weapon in its effort to retain enterprise customers.
Building Data-Intensive Applications
Of course, the cloud is just a platform, and success comes down to use cases. In that respect, SAP is also well-positioned around one of the big potential cloud use cases—industrial Internet of things (IoT)—due to its longstanding customer relationships with manufacturers.
SAP has been doing IoT for a long time, said Nils Herzberg, global senior vice president for Internet of things at SAP. It's more than just connecting a sensor to a dashboard and more about enabling "customers to run automated end-to-end processes."
One of the keys to success in IoT is something the HANA platform is very good at as well, he said: being able to derive new intelligence from routine data that can drive new business processes and efficiencies.
Another data-intensive area that SAP is taking advantage of is health care, with the announcement of the SAP Connected Health Platform. After years of struggling with government-mandated electronic health record (EHR) systems, the industry is recognizing that medical records are just a means to an end, and the end is mining those records for ways to improve the quality of care.
"The irony is that since HITECH [the 2009 law that mandated EHRs and meaningful use standards] we are capturing every patient's journey through the health care system, and at the end of the day it's put in cold storage on a file server instead of using the information to make the system smarter," said the head of the program, SAP Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Delaney.
Even with the right technology moves, SAP is working hard to win, or perhaps win back, the trust of its customers. SAP CEO Bill McDermott spoke passionately about "empathy" in his keynote to 30,000 attendees. He even gave out his email address and asked people to email him if they were dissatisfied.
Some customers may call. But unlike some of the usual suspects, SAP's cloud revenues are growing. And now deployments and conversions are taking months instead of years. The cloud really isn't the future for SAP. It's the present, and its customers are along for the ride.
Scot Petersen is a technology analyst at Ziff Brothers Investments, a private investment firm. He has an extensive background in the technology field. Prior to joining Ziff Brothers, Scot was the editorial director, Business Applications & Architecture, at TechTarget. Before that, he was the director, Editorial Operations, at Ziff Davis Enterprise. While at Ziff Davis Media, he was a writer and editor at eWEEK. No investment advice is offered in his blog. All duties are disclaimed. Scot works for a private investment firm, which may at any time invest in companies whose products are discussed in this blog, and no disclosure of securities transactions will be made.