SAP announced a new set of partnerships at SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG Annual Conference introduced as project “Embrace.” This is a strategic collaboration with Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Google Cloud Platform (GCP), as well a number of other global strategic service partners (GSSPs).

The program itself is designed to help ASUG members and other SAP customers move to SAP S/4HANA in the cloud, but within the context of their existing technology stacks and IT environments.

Howdy, Cloud Partner

It’s important to step back and remember why technology firms form partnerships in the first place. In the case of SAP S/4HANA—which is rarely the lowest-cost piece of technology in any organization’s total software real estate—SAP knows that customers will often use other vendors’ technologies to perform certain functions at a lower cost.

Being able to integrate with a competitor’s IT environment is key, whether those IT vendors are industry giants or smaller players who may eventually appear on the acquisition radar.

Of course, there are other reasons for tech partnerships such as plugging gaps in road maps, joint development initiatives, and more commercially driven reseller ambitions. But what are the specific mechanics inside SAP’s project Embrace?

SAP explains it as, “A means of putting a customer’s move to SAP S/4HANA in the cloud in the language and context of their primary industry, by recommending the platform, software, services, and infrastructure from SAP as well as their preferred hyperscaler and preferred service partner.”

Industry Language and Context

This is a drive to help customers move to SAP S/4HANA in the cloud in the language of their choice. Not meaning a programming language such as Java, SQL, C++, Python, etc., but rather, the business-technical language that is successfully carrying projects through in any given industry vertical.

Indeed, that is SAP’s next point—context. This project aims to provide customers with a cloud migration guide designed for a specific industry. It is putting in context the types of applications and services that a typical firm in that industry is using to meet their needs.

In terms of language and context, SAP has said that project Embrace will include reference architectures that serve as a technical blueprint. These architectures have been jointly developed with the three key cloud partners in the partnership and they include all the component information required to run the customer’s applications. There are also what are being called “market-approved journeys,” which alongside the technical reference architectures, can act as a market-tested road map to SAP S/4HANA by industry.

Your Platform, Software Services, and Hyperscaler of Choice

SAP is ready to work across all platforms, whether it’s between different computer operating systems, different form factors such as desktop and mobile, or different core instances of on-premise, hybrid, and public cloud computing.

Additionally, there will be interconnectivity between whichever software and services are deployed across those platforms, all aligned to a customer’s preferred hyperscaler.

Hyperscale Demystified

To round out this breakdown, let’s just remind ourselves what a hyperscaler is in the context of hyperscale computing and ask why SAP would also consider this aspect of a customer’s IT topography.

As many of you already know, hyperscaler (often just written as hyperscale) technology is an approach that creates an essentially distributed IT infrastructure backbone. Because it is distributed into more componentized blocks, a hyperscale approach can allow you to more fluidly provision and bring to life adaptable IT resources (for example, compute for processing, memory, and storage for data capture, plus networking for interconnectivity). You can apply this approach to any given node of IT that exists in a data center, and adjust it quickly based on any changing requirements with little to no impact.

Hyperscale technology is part of the core fabric component of SAP’s three cloud partners who are part of project Embrace. It is also a key focus for a good number of other cloud-scale vendors ranging from HPE to Nutanix, to Dell EMC, to Cisco and others.

Reading Between the Lines

What SAP has worked toward with Microsoft Azure, AWS, Google Cloud, and others is choice, interoperability, information exchange, and collaboration for connectivity. It also appears as an effort to foster a greater degree of professional industry friendship. SAP notes that intended customer benefits include shorter negotiations, streamlined teaming, and faster, risk-managed implementations.

“Our customers are very clear about the business outcomes they expect to achieve when migrating to the cloud—and that includes operational excellence and innovation,” said Jennifer Morgan, president of the cloud business group and member of the executive board of SAP SE. “Working together with the hyperscalers and global strategic service partners, we’re in a unique position to shape our customers’ journeys to becoming intelligent enterprises.”

Partnering with Microsoft Azure

Microsoft has used its official corporate blog to explain that it has been working with SAP on project Embrace for more than a year. The two are working to deliver a joint road map with specific integrated reference architecture to run SAP S4/HANA on Microsoft Azure.

“Working hand-in-hand with SAP to make project Embrace a success, Microsoft is developing an integrated, end-to-end process across product engineering, sales, marketing, and support teams,” wrote Gavriella Schuster, corporate vice president, one commercial partner, Microsoft. “As part of this effort, Microsoft and SAP are also aligning their joint Partner Ecosystem, as well as collaborating closely with the SAP Max Attention team to provide a more seamless customer support experience.”

Partnering with Amazon Web Services (AWS)

AWS announced it’s a proud participant in the program, which will simplify the move to SAP S/4HANA and accelerate an organization’s ability to innovate like a startup within a specific industry.

“SAP’s Intelligent Enterprise portfolio and AWS Cloud services, with co-innovated automation, are enabling enterprises around the globe to quickly transform themselves to become ‘startup-like’: using intelligent technologies natively, innovating business models faster, serving their customers globally by default, and running at the lowest-cost,” wrote Bas Kamphuis, general manager, strategic ISVs at AWS. “Together, SAP and AWS are building a set of unique offerings aimed at retiring the technical debt that exists in today’s IT landscapes and at accelerating innovation by providing instant and on-demand access to higher-level services like machine learning, data lakes, and IoT.”

Partnering with Google Cloud Platform

GCP announced that since partnering with SAP two years ago, it’s expanding its support for SAP customers. This includes providing global virtualized compute infrastructure with 6 and 12 TB instances for SAP HANA workloads, to partnerships with solutions providers, to now engineering Google Cloud to be the best place to run SAP workloads.

“Every enterprise customer is different, which can mean each has their own unique journey to the cloud when it comes to migrating SAP applications,” wrote Snehanshu Shah, managing director for SAP, Google Cloud. “As part of SAP’s project Embrace, we’ve teamed up to simplify this journey by offering customers market-approved journeys that define industry-specific best practices tied to reference architectures underpinned by SAP Cloud Platform and GCP services that guide them through their transformation to SAP S/4HANA. These solutions will help customers modernize and create experiences using 100% VM-based, highly secure, and highly available Google Cloud infrastructure, as well as the latest advances in the areas of big data, analytics, and machine learning.”

Sharing Strategy in the Hyperscaler Huddle

In addition to the reference architectures and market-approved road map elements of project Embrace, SAP also notes the initiative’s “Solution” block. This is a set of foundational services running on SAP Cloud Platform to support the integration, orchestration, and extension of SAP systems and third-party applications running in the cloud or on-premise.

A fourth component also includes the expanded SAP MaxAttention and SAP ActiveAttention services. These are designed to support customers running a cloud or hybrid infrastructure on a hyperscaler.

Partnership clearly matters to SAP on many levels, especially where they are in the best interests of SAP customers. This is just one example of an intricate, complex, and wide-ranging set of engineering agreements designed to put ASUG members in the best possible position for their cloud migrations.

Are you ready to make the move to SAP S/4HANA? ASUG members can watch a “How to Build a Business Case and Road Map to Justify Your Transformation to SAP S/4HANA” webcast, available on demand.