SAP has not had a very easy time getting its Business ByDesign on-demand applications to market, and it may not matter all that much now that the German software giant is preparing to allow for its various enterprise applications to run on Amazon's EC2 compute cloud.
Amazon and SAP have announced that the suite of server, storage, networking, and other services – collectively called Amazon Web Services – has become a certified SAP global technology partner and the two have worked to fully test and benchmark Amazon's cloud to certify that SAP's deployment guidelines for on-premise gear running inside customer data centers work on EC2. The announcement was made at SAP's Sapphire Now user conference, which is being held in Orlando, Florida this week.
The entire SAP stack has not been packed up in Amazon Machine Images (AMIs) for EC2 quite yet, however. So don't get too excited. SAP is starting out by selling a bunch of applications collectively called Rapid Deployment Solutions on EC2 for starters. This includes SAP's customer relationship management, business communications management, and Sybase mobile sales extensions for CRM as well as extended warehouse management (this is an actual warehouse with forklifts, not a data warehouse), supplier network collaboration and self-service procurement tools. BusinessObjects sales and operations planning and spend performance management modules are also being puffed up on EC2, and so are treasury and risk management, IT service desk operations, and NetWeaver master data management modules. The entire suite of BusinessObjects data analytics and warehousing tools can also be blown out onto the EC2 cloud. At the moment, this software is only supported on Linux images running on EC2.
SAP said that "in the coming months" the two would work to certify SAP's ERP suites for the EC2 cloud, and also offer the German software giant's application running atop virtualized Windows instances. The latter is important since the vast majority of SAP customers deploy ERP software atop Windows in their own data centers.
With Oracle and SAP being at war and Solaris being the only data center-grade Unix that runs on x64-based processors, it seems unlikely that EC2 will ever sport a Unix alternative for SAP applications running on Amazon's cloud. Unless, of course, Hewlett-Packard can convince Amazon to support Itanium-based images running IntegrityVM virtualization inside of EC2 (good luck with that) or unless IBM makes a case for plugging in its Power-based machines and their PowerVM hypervisor (yeah, right).
SAP is not the first company to certify its applications on EC2. Lawson Software, a midrange player with lots of customers in the healthcare industry and public sector, certified its ERP suite on EC2 last year. Lawson is in the process of being acquired by midrange rival Infor with $1.83bn in private equity cash. Oracle has been selling its various application suites on an on-demand basis to customers running on the Oracle network, for years. And since September 2010, Oracle has supported a variety of its application, middleware, and database software on AWS services. This includes E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft Enterprise, JDE EnterpriseOne, Siebel CRM, Fusion middleware, its eponymous database, and its Enterprise Linux clone of Red Hat's Linux with the same name.
For customers to be comfortable deploying SAP applications on EC2, SAP and Amazon are going to have to be a lot more specific about service level agreements and what systems and practices are in place to avoid downtime. Amazon had a multi-day outage in its Virginia data center after a botched upgrade at the end of April.
Bootnote: This story originally said that Oracle shows no inclination yet to put its apps out on EC2. But it launched such capability last September. The applications were not listed in the AWS software catalog, however, and still are not. ®