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Artificial Intelligence: Article

Exclusive Cloud Interview with SAP

In the Boardroom with Martin Heisig, SVP, Cloud and Infrastructure Delivery at SAP SE

Martin Heisig, Senior Vice President of Cloud and Infrastructure Delivery at SAP SE, is responsible for SAP's global IT infrastructure including the operation of SAP's external cloud offerings.

SecuritySolutionsWatch.com: Thank you for joining us today, Martin. Before discussing SAP cloud delivery and data center solutions in greater detail and the upcoming FORECAST 2014 please tell us about your background.

Martin Heisig: I am the head of SAP's Infrastructure Services Organization and responsible for SAP's global IT infrastructure including the operation of SAP's external cloud offerings. The SAP Cloud offering includes for example Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions (Success Factors, ARIBA, HANA Cloud Platform) as well as comprehensive cloud infrastructure combined with managed services for global enterprise customers (SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud).

This role combines also responsibility for SAPs office and workplace equipment, backend systems, data centers, network and WAN infrastructure as well as SAP system management for SAP's business, development and training & demo environment.

SecuritySolutionsWatch.com: May we have an overview of the key trends and highlights SAP will be discussing at FORECAST 2014?

Martin Heisig: The mega trends real-time platforms - Big Data, cloud, enterprise mobility as well as social media - continue to enable completely new business scenarios. In a tectonic shift, we witness how our most innovative customers reinvent their business models and processes by using in-memory technology, like SAP HANA. The world goes real-time across entire industries and in the private space.

As head of the HANA Enterprise cloud delivery function, I foresee that more and more companies will move to the cloud, and that we will see a leap in software, infrastructure and platform as services. Customers have existing environments and want to add cloud solutions to that. So, the reality for most of these companies is a hybrid cloud environment. Or they move their enterprise systems into private clouds, for example the HANA Enterprise Cloud. Security and process integration will continue to be big issues, and this is something at which SAP excels. Whatever the strategy, CIOs have to address both agility for the business and cost. The Cloud is a major factor in this equation.

SecuritySolutionsWatch.com: One will read on SAP.com that, "SAP HANA converges database and application platform capabilities in-memory to transform transactions, analytics, text analysis, predictive and spatial processing so businesses can operate in real-time". Please give us an overview of the HANA and do you use it internally, too?

Martin Heisig: The SAP HANA database is an in-memory database that combines transactional data processing, analytical data processing, and application logic processing functionality in memory. This new architecture enables converged OLTP and OLAP data processing within a single in-memory column-based data store, while eliminating data redundancy and latency. With SAP HANA our customers can leverage the power of in-memory technology to address growing data volume concerns and new business opportunities. It provides a modern platform for real-time applications and real-time analytics, while simplifying existing IT landscapes.

SAP, like all companies, must stay ahead of potentially disruptive technologies to remain at the top of its market. As one of the largest customers of SAP worldwide, SAP's own global IT organization has a strong focus on innovation and is on the leading edge of many new business and technology trends. Therefore new technology at SAP is first tested and used by internal users. The practice goes by many names: eating your own dog food, drinking your own champagne, or in our case "SAP Runs SAP." By using software internally both before and after making it available to customers, employees are not only able to alert developers to potential problems in an application and make suggestions for improvement, they are also the first to enjoy the benefits too.

The first company in the world to use the SAP's in-memory technology - SAP HANA, back in 2010, was none other than the global software enterprise that created it. At SAP, we run all of our mission critical systems on HANA. In 2013, we implemented ERP on HANA across all Lines of Business and regions. CRM and our Corporate Business Warehouse run in-memory. Some examples of immediate benefits are faster financial reporting and higher quality analysis as well as significant improvements in the IT landscape. Transactions and Analytics come together in a single system. And the batch job is dead.

While nowadays cloud computing becomes an even more important topic, SAP recognized this trend and reacted early by moving their core applications into their own cloud environment powered by SAP HANA.

Customers now have the opportunity to accelerate the deployment of their SAP HANA projects within the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud, where infrastructure is combined with managed services tailored for the customers' individual needs. This enables the customers- including SAP as its own and first customer - to access further advantages by getting access and benefit from SAP's latest innovation and application technologies as well as having a huge increase of implementation speed, and with this reach a better time-to-value.

As of 2014, SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud operates the largest HANA systems worldwide, including SAP's own single global SAP Enterprise Resource Planning (67,000 users), SAP Customer Relationship Management (15,000 Users), and SAP NetWeaver BW (4,500 users) applications.

SecuritySolutionsWatch.com: What is your perspective Martin regarding the major benefits of HANA?

Martin Heisig: I believe that significant competitive advantage awaits early adopters. Let me start with where I think the biggest potential lies for customers who want to make breakthrough improvements. If you sit back and really think about your business model and core processes - and where the next disruption can come from whether you lead it or others pose be threat - you will see that real-time computing, collaborative commerce and harvesting the vast amounts of data have a huge potential. A lot of industries have been transformed via massive disruption, and it often starts with innovators finding innovative approaches to capitalize on their data, moving to digital products and services and creating totally new experiences. I believe that SAP is addressing the most important and critical needs of these companies. We help customers achieve these breakthroughs, and this should be the focus.

With Big Data, in my opinion, the problem of ever-increasing complexity has not commonly been addressed. With our SAP HANA technology we strive for exactly this missing element of simplification in how we bring structured, unstructured and event related big data into a single, coherent view to allow to derive the right decisions at the right time - in realtime. This is the real game changer.

SecuritySolutionsWatch.com: Are there new features and solutions you would like to discuss?

Martin Heisig: We have recently introduced SAP Simple Finance, a set of solutions to bring the simplicity of SAP Cloud powered by SAP HANA to finance departments worldwide. Simple Finance doesn't displace the existing Business Suite finance apps but we simplify and modernize key workflows, introduce new interfaces, and strip out antiquated code. It takes full advantage of the in-memory SAP HANA platform with new finance capabilities, offers a new and beautiful user experience for easy access, all deployed in SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud under a full subscription model, making it easy for finance departments to adopt these solutions.

And of course, we were the first to implement it. Today, we have simplified our code, dramatically reduced our data footprint and have significant performance gains. For example, all materialized aggregates are replaced by SQL statements on the fly and database indices are dropped. Our data footprint will be reduced dramatically to less than 500GB for our whole ERP data. With better financial insights and inherent reconciliation we enabled our Finance executives to make better decisions and operate more effectively.

SecuritySolutionsWatch.com: Can we discuss Cloud and security for a moment...we all know the benefits of being online...in seconds with our various devices we can pay a bill, send a gift, make a dinner reservation, and in growing numbers, control the HVAC and security systems in our home. But, what about businesses, are they more vulnerable to the bad guys out there? Your thoughts, Martin?

Martin Heisig: Security concerns in a cloud model are similar to those for the application service provider model: whether people will steal information, or that leaks will compromise confidential data. The top security concerns for the cloud model focus on identity management, data storage location, system operations, and data transmission and flow controls.

A seasoned team of industry experts from SAP who specialize in creating secure and reliable cloud environments help businesses safeguard critical applications and data during the implementation and keep business operations intact. Our comprehensive approach - at the physical, database, middleware, application, and network and communication layers - literally builds security into every aspect of a business.

For example, SAP operates its own data centers, and we partner with local leaders in colocation hosting centers to provide secure, environmentally controlled facilities that offer an integrated security management system. On-site security measures include electronic photo-ID badging, cardholder access control, biometrics, recorded digital video surveillance, and alarm monitoring. All SAP data centers comply with the latest telecommunications industry standards, such as ANSI/TIA/EIA-942 Tier III or higher.

We also implemented a so called security monitoring center to immediately react to all kind of security risks no matter that applies to applications, infrastructure or even global crisis situations.

I believe it is a challenge for companies - especially for smaller companies - to implement such comprehensive security models on their own. More and more companies will realize that it is time to re-focus on their core business and that the cloud can help them to do so.

SecuritySolutionsWatch.com: Thanks again for joining us today, Martin. Are there any other subjects you would like to discuss?

Martin Heisig: Let me finally elaborate shortly on a new role of CIOs. IT purchasing power moves more to the lines of businesses (LoBs). The new role of the CIO is changing from a functional to a more strategic innovation and business enabler, the "Chief Innovation Officer." The new CIO has to stay ahead of the trends and make sure that employees can take advantage of new technology quickly. IT leaders are expected to find ways to come up with new ways of using technology to create new business opportunities and how IT contributes to the bottom line.

Cloud presents a huge opportunity for IT to drive innovation, but it also poses a challenge because the business can partner with external sources and run applications. A CIO can only be successful if there's a strong partnership and collaboration with the business. It's important for CIOs to embrace the cloud and IT's role as an integrator. This being said IT organizations need to change their mindset and the way how they operate.

I think, it's clear, that we have no option here. The cloud is a reality that one might ignore for a while but in the end this will only set you back in the transition that will anyhow happen. So, I rather like to address it heads-on and be first - and thus turn it into an advantage over competition. Nobody likes chasing up with others because of a missed advantage of a good start in the first place.

This interview originally appeared in SecuritySolutionsWatch.com. Republished with permission.

More Stories By Liz McMillan

News Desk compiles and publishes breaking news stories, press releases and latest news articles as they happen.

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