SAP, at its SAP Tech-Ed Europe 2018 conference, expanded the scope of the integration services it provides within SAP Cloud Platform, the platform-as-a-service (PaaS) environment it provides for building custom applications based on the open source Cloud Foundry project.
Dan Lahl, global vice president of product marketing for SAP Cloud Platform, said SAP is now adding a Content Advisor service that makes use of machine learning algorithms and other forms of artificial intelligence (AI) to recommend what integrations should be created next based on those that have been previously deployed on the platform.
In addition, SAP announced the general availability of SAP Cloud Integration Automation Service, which provides deeper integration with a standard set of metadata SAP is in the process of defining for all its packaged application software, and SAP Cloud Platform Open Connectors, a set of application programming interfaces (APIs) based on code SAP has licensed from Cloud Elements.
SAP also revealed that it will start making an on-premises edition of SAP Cloud Platform available via partners including IBM and Atos beginning in 2019. Lahl said that decision was driven by customers that for either regulatory or intellectual property concerns did not want to deploy custom code on any cloud service. Those efforts become more feasible once SAP finishes porting its distribution of Cloud Foundry to run on top of Kubernetes, which presents a more efficient approach to deploying an application development platform using a cloud-native platform that can run anywhere. While SAP remains committed to Cloud Foundry, the cost and effort of standing up instances of a Cloud Foundry PaaS in its original form are considerable.
Finally, a new SAP Business Partner service on SAP Cloud Platform, planned for general availability in November, will provide access to a set of master data services that simplify access to and orchestration of enterprise business applications. The master data services can be shared and reused for any LOB-specific intelligent business processes to ensures a consistent and comprehensive view of customers, sales and products. In effect, SAP is now providing compliance as a service, said Lahl.
The integration additions to the SAP Cloud Platform should improve performance and help drive down costs, he said, because collectively they eliminate the need to rely on an external integration service when building and deploying applications on SAP Cloud Platform.
SAP has put considerable effort into building out SAP Cloud Platform as part of a strategy that provides a layer of isolation between SAP applications running on the HANA database and custom applications running on Cloud Foundry. That approach enables SAP to deliver a quarterly cadence of updates to both its packaged applications and HANA running on a cloud service without having to worry about the impact those updates might have on custom applications. One of the reasons why so many SAP customers are several releases behind on SAP packaged applications is because they have all been customized extensively in on-premises IT environments.
As part of that effort, SAP is now also making available a series of best practices for implementing DevOps processes across its platforms. It may be a while before organizations that have standardized on SAP platforms master those processes. But modernization of those platforms is now more a matter of when rather than if.