SAP is cutting off its legs to save its arms by rejigging its software licensing approach for the cloud.
The company threw open the doors to a new online marketplace on Wednesday that lets punters to buy and consume its technology in an as-a-service format, as the world's largest maker of business software tried to goose its cloud revenues to make up for sagging on-premises sales.
SAP and IBM, and to a lesser extent Oracle, have struggled to cope with a transition to the cloud: the trio rely on selling lucrative support contracts to customers for on-premises hardware and software, but as those customers eye up cheaper off-site clouds, SAP, IBM and Oracle are scrambling to build their own public clouds.
To make up for this slow shift, these businesses have been compelled to rethink how they sell and license their software. IBM had SmartCloud, which failed, and SoftLayer, which is doing better. Oracle had a few abortive products, and now touts the Oracle Public Cloud. SAP had BusinessByDesign, and is now doubling down on HANA.
To that end, SAP announced on Wednesday the "SAP HANA Cloud Platform" – a long-awaited rentable, cloud-based way for businesses to access the in-memory database SAP has bet much of its future business on.
"We are simplifying access and expanding the market reach for SAP's breakthrough SAP HANA platform," said Sikka in a canned quote.
In exposing HANA in an as-a-service format, SAP has had to go through some unpleasant but necessary changes, like clearly listing the upfront price of renting SAP HANA infrastructure either with or without a license on its site.
"We've unbundled HANA," explained SAP's technology chief Vishal Sikka on Wednesday on a webcast announcing the tech. "You don't have to buy the base [you can] just buy additional services."
This means businesses can use existing HANA licenses to rent off-site hardware on an on-demand basis from SAP via the 'Infrastructure Services', component of its cloud; buy a new license and the associated hardware under the "DB Services" option; or go further and buy additional software as well under the "App Services" store.
The benefit to businesses is that they have more freedom than before over how they choose to consume SAP's software, though given the notoriously high margins of cloud operations it's likely SAP will take its pound of flesh from them in turn.
Along with giving enterprises a new way to consume the technology, the marketplace also means SAP is becoming a full-fledged infrastructure provider as well, with the giant offering four hardware configurations ranging from $1,595 a month (excluding a HANA license) for 128GB of RAM and 1.28TB of disk space, to $6,495 per month for 1TB of memory.
As HANA is an in-memory system some businesses may want even higher allocations. If this is the case they can talk to SAP, and Sikka said on Wednesday the software company can offer businesses up to 10 petabytes of memory, if they've got the cash. (From a hardware perspective, this will bring its own problems to do with caching, I/O, and general complexity costs, but the company has already claimed a Guinness World Record with a 12PB installation – although we note this did not include in memory figures.)
In addition to the new cloud services, SAP also announced the launch of the SAP Genomic Analyzer, a HANA-based application that lets the medical industry probe genomic data via the in-memory platform. ®