No doubt you’ve heard about SAP's Cloud Platform (previously called HANA Cloud Platform) and the HANA Enterprise Cloud (HEC). And you may have also wondered: What’s the difference?

Here's a brief explanation based on several conversations with SAP.

SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud (HEC)

Think of SAP’s HANA Enterprise Cloud as infrastructure as a service plus managed services for SAP software (customers can also run custom SAP HANA apps as well as software for select third-party apps OK’ed by SAP).

With HEC, says SAP, “We offload the managing of your SAP footprint.”

SAP makes the HANA Enterprise Cloud available via data centers worldwide. SAP says it is bringing online new data centers on an ongoing basis — either SAP owned or co-located. The engagement for HEC customers begins with an assessment service conducted by SAP, followed by onboarding and migration of the customer’s applications onto the cloud infrastructure, followed by ongoing application management and support.

HEC managed services include backups, patching, provisioning and upgrades, restore and recovery, infrastructure monitoring, and event detection — all in a private cloud environment.

Customers can bring their own (already licensed) SAP applications into HEC or tap into subscription-based pricing on SAP software.

What’s the difference between HEC and a traditional hosting provider? According to SAP, the primary characteristic of HEC is that it is a complete managed service by which SAP provides the infrastructure as well as the deployment and management of the applications.

In addition, SAP says, customers benefit from SAP’s deep expertise in SAP technologies and HANA. The data centers are run entirely by SAP’s application management services team. Other benefits, according to SAP, include a reduction in IT management costs (“moving from opex to capex”) and the ability for customers to offload system upgrades to SAP.

SAP Cloud Platform

Think of SAP’s Cloud Platform as a platform as a service that allows customers and partners to extend existing applications (either cloud or on-premise apps) and create applications that deliver new capabilities.

SAP Cloud Platform is an open, standards-based platform that allows “connectivity with any system of record,” SAP says. On the SAP Cloud Platform, customers can extend from, say, SAP Business Suite (e.g., CRM), SAP SuccessFactors applications, or SAP Cloud for Customer.

Another evolving scenario involves more than 100 partners (ISVs) that are building custom and standalone SAP apps, including those for specific industries—for example, using SAP Cloud Platform, Accenture built an HR audit and compliance module for regulated industries on top of SAP SuccessFactors.

So, what’s some of the current customer work being done by those on the SAP Cloud Platform? The starting point for most customers, SAP says, involves creating or exposing new capabilities to users in an easy-to-use, easy-to-access format. For instance, an SAP SuccessFactors customer might be creating a mobile UI for approvals. Another customer might want to extend their CRM system with a new call-center app that enables integration between the on-premise CRM software and the cloud app. SAP Fiori is also a favorite on the SAP Cloud Platform, as customers seek to improve UIs for existing SAP software.

The key to its cloud platform, SAP says, is that it offers integration services between the on-premise and cloud worlds—the so-called hybrid IT landscape that is already present inside most organizations.

For more information from SAP on HEC, check out this website. For SAP Cloud Platform, see the main website for more details.