June 6, 2018

SAP offers ERP on Google, Microsoft, and Amazon cloud platforms

Wider availability will support initiatives in information security, data management, firm says at user conference.

By Ben Ames

German business software giant SAP SE today said that its SAP Cloud Platform products are now available on the cloud infrastructure platforms from Google Inc., Microsoft Corp., and Amazon.com Inc., extending the availability of its enterprise resource planning (ERP) suite to a wider market.

SAP's ERP product—known as S/4HANA—includes the company's warehouse management and transportation management modules, as well as other supply chain software products.

By making S/4HANA available on the three major cloud service providers—Google's Cloud Platform, Microsoft's Azure, and Amazon Web Services (AWS)—SAP will enable faster deployment and improved data security for its software products, company co-founder and chairman of the supervisory board Hasso Plattner said in a keynote speech at the firm's annual user conference, the Sapphire show in Orlando.

SAP's Cloud Platform is based on a foundation of the company's Leonardo machine learning and Internet of Things (IoT) product, HANA data management suite, and application programming interface (API) integration to the company's range of business software products. Those products feature SAP's S/4HANA ERP and C/4HANA customer relationship management (CRM), which the firm upgraded in an announcement yesterday.

The company also detailed improvements to its data management suite in the areas of data pipelines for better security, text and search functionality to enable machine learning, spatial and graphing analysis, data anonymization for compliance with the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) privacy rules, and persistent memory hardware for faster operating speed, Plattner said.

Together, those features allow users to provide enhanced security for valuable data by accessing information at its source instead of transferring it between servers, he said. "The biggest risk when we transport data from A to B is that it might end up at C, which is where we don't want it," Plattner said. "Now we can analyze, filter, and transform the data" at its origin, he said.

Also today, SAP announced new capabilities in blockchain-based information exchange, data analytics, and a conversational artificial intelligence (AI) feature designed to allow users to hold spoken conversations with their ERP platform using a smartphone. However, an onstage demonstration of the conversational AI tool failed to function, prompting Plattner to reassure attendees that the system "is working in principal" but needs fine-tuning to handle variations in users' accents.

Fully functional, the conversational AI could enable companies to develop intelligent chatbots, SAP says. Logistics industry firms including DHL, UPS Inc., and HighJump Software Inc. have recently offered chatbots for both text and voice channels to support simpler visibility of parcel tracking and other processes.

A software platform empowered by AI could soon offer hands-free use through spoken language, automated completion of certain tasks, and suggestions on how to solve business problems, SAP said. "It's an ERP you can talk to, it's a CRM you can listen to. That's how things are going to change," SAP chief technology officer Bjoern Goerke said during the keynote. "That's where 'cool' meets enterprise. That's where the cool [stuff] happens."

Finally, to support its blockchain program and accelerate adoption of blockchain-based data-sharing practices, SAP said it has started a global blockchain consortium with seven founding members, including Intel Corp., Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. (HPE), and A3 by Airbus SE.

About the Author

Ben Ames
Senior Editor
Ben Ames has spent 20 years as a journalist since starting out as a daily newspaper reporter in Pennsylvania in 1995. From 1999 forward, he has focused on business and technology reporting for a number of trade journals, beginning when he joined Design News and Modern Materials Handling magazines. Ames is author of the trail guide "Hiking Massachusetts" and is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism.

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