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Microsoft, SAP Ink Cloud Integration Deal

In one of their most extensive collaboration efforts, Microsoft and SAP this week announced a broad partnership to integrate Azure and Office 365 with the SAP HANA data platform.

The partnership, which also includes ties with other products from both companies, was the big headline at the 28th annual SAP Sapphire NOW user conference, which kicked off Tuesday in Orlando.

Microsoft and SAP have partnered in the past, but Tuesday's announcement promises to benefit many organizations that use both companies' offerings while boosting SAP's efforts to broaden its reach into midsized organizations with the new SAP Business Suite 4 HANA offering. That suite was released at last year's Sapphire NOW conference and is targeted at transaction-oriented, business-critical functions. At the time of its release, SAP had decided that rather than support third-party databases underneath the various components of its suite, it would tie the components only with its own HANA in-memory database.

Microsoft and SAP have agreed to certify HANA and the suite to run dev, test and production workloads in the Azure public cloud. 

On the Software as a Service (SaaS) side of things, the companies are integrating SAP's Concur, Fieldglass, SuccessFactors and Ariba offerings with Office 365. The Office 365 integration will include document sharing, calendar, communications, and other collaboration and data sharing functions offered by Microsoft's service with SAP's SaaS apps.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella appeared during the Sapphire NOW keynote alongside SAP CEO Bill McDermott. Addressing McDermott, Nadella said, "This partnership is perhaps one of the broadest things that we've done. We have a long heritage of working together but when I look at the footprint of what you're accomplishing today to benefit customers, it is breathtaking."

In addition to the Office 365 integration with SAP's SaaS offerings, Nadella said Microsoft will offer security and management of the HANA portfolio.

"The applications you build can be managed with [Microsoft's] EMS [Enterprise Mobility Suite] and Intune, so you can set security principles for data loss protection," Nadella said. "Now that seamlessly flows into the apps that you build. This combination of integration is really going to accelerate the growth our customers that our customers really seek by bringing together things they're bringing with us."

Pund-IT principal analyst Charles King said Microsoft and SAP have thousands of customers in common, all of whom stand to benefit from the new integration capabilities announced at Sapphire NOW.

"Both companies are leading players in their respective spheres -- Microsoft's Azure is one of the industry's largest business clouds while SAP's HANA is the fastest-growing in-memory database solution," King said. "Business customers will applaud bringing those platforms closer together but the move should also cheer SAP and Microsoft's technology partners, most of which are delivering or building Azure- and HANA-related service offerings."

While the pact with Microsoft was the most prominent bit of news out of the conference, a number of other key SAP partners also announced new capabilities this week. Among them was Amazon Web Services (AWS), which launched a new X1 Instance Type designed for workloads generated by in-memory databases such as HANA. The new x1.32xlarge instance size is powered by an Intel Haswell Xeon E7 8880 v3, available with up to 64 cores and 128 virtual CPUs. AWS posted the specs of its high-end compute node on Wednesday.

Dell, another partner, also announced appliances for its new Dell Validated Systems for SAP HANA Edge, which will be released next quarter. The new PowerEdge servers running the SAP HANA Edge edition is targeted at midsized organizations that are notably smaller than the traditional SAP customer.

"We want to make it not only affordable, but enable smaller SAP implementations and democratize it for SMBs," said Jim Ganthier, vice president and general manager of Dell Engineered Solutions and Cloud.

For those looking to add database replication to the mix, Dell said a new version of its SharePlex data replication offering will support SAP HANA, Teradata and EnterpriseDB Postgres. Until now, it only offered Oracle-to-Oracle replication. Dell also launched the Dell Automation and Cloud for SAP software bundle, which includes support for Cloudera and Dell's new IoT portfolio.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.