A little more than two years ago, SAP and Google Cloud announced a partnership that would allow customers to easily integrate Google’s cloud and machine learning solutions with SAP enterprise applications. The result of that partnership was announced at this year’s Google Next conference in San Francisco. Attendees learned that they can now run SAP systems natively on Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

Google CEO Sundar Pichai told a room full of developers, business users, and IT professionals that Anthos, a multi- and hybrid-cloud offering, is now generally available. Not only does Anthos allow SAP customers to deploy Google Cloud in their own data centers, but it also gives them the flexibility to build, run, and manage workloads on GCP or other cloud providers without making any changes. “You can write once and run anywhere,” he said.

We caught up with Kevin Ichhpurani, corporate vice president at Google, to find out what Anthos and the overall partnership between SAP and Google Cloud means for ASUG Members.

Sharon: Can you talk about the strategic partnership between GCP and SAP? Why should SAP customers choose Google Cloud?

Kevin: The partnership allows SAP customers the opportunity to use GCP to accelerate their digital transformation. We’ve infused SAP DNA throughout everything we’re doing by bringing in talent from SAP, as well as embedding talent from Google Cloud at the SAP headquarters in Walldorf, Germany. We have a dedicated focus from a product strategy and from an engineering perspective, as well as dedicated solutions specialists who can advise clients on what is their “to be” state, which will help them understand how to get to the cloud.

As for why GCP, we see that a lot of the largest SAP customers in the world—McKesson for example—are starting to choose Google. The entire SAP portfolio that runs on-prem also runs on the GCP.

To start, GCP offers the strongest security. We have built every part of the infrastructure stack, which is tamper resistant. The second reason is that GCP has the best uptime in the industry. The third thing is that customers can run SAP environments natively in GCP. And the fourth reason is innovation.

Not only does SAP Leonardo run on GCP, but our machine learning services are available within SAP Leonardo. Customers have the option if they’re using SAP Leonardo to not only run it on our cloud, but to actually have SAP Leonardo Google APIs exposed. You get the best of both worlds. That’s where this is really starting to get exciting and why a lot of customers are choosing us.

Sharon: What are the key drivers and benefits SAP customers are getting from the partnership with Google Cloud?

Kevin: First, customers can run SAP in the cloud in the most secure, most reliable, and truly native cloud environment. And then additionally, they can innovate on top of the core with machine learning and Google Analytics.

Another benefit is that customers can have global scale in SAP environments. Google has the largest and most comprehensive network in the world. This matters because when you have customers going from several SAP ECC instances to a single instance of SAP S/4HANA, the biggest challenge becomes driving network performance. With our network, customers can actually get the performance results they need when doing an SAP S/4HANA consolidation.

And finally, SAP and GCP also have a collaborative performance support process. If a customer is having a performance issue and doesn’t know if it’s in the application tier or in the infrastructure tier, both SAP and GCP work together to triage the situation. We are working together on an engineering level to truly co-innovate and optimize our cloud for SAP software. It’s this deep support and co-innovation relationship that is so revolutionary and is a benefit for customers.

Sharon: According to ASUG research, only one third of the participants in our recent cloud study were somewhat confident in their cloud providers. What would you say to address their concerns, especially about security?

Kevin: As I mentioned earlier, GCP offers best-in-class security. There is a reason why some of the largest customers are choosing us, including some of the largest financial institutions in the world. Security is one of our biggest differentiators.

Sharon: How does Google Cloud work with SAP customers to right-size their workloads?

Kevin: Customers can now run their SAP environments natively on GCP, so there is no need to right-size their workloads. This is another differentiator for us. Customers don’t need to worry about running on bare metal. They don't need to think about sizing for a three-year commitment and then being forced to make a costly upgrade in the future if they get it wrong.

On GCP, they’re running on virtual machines (VMs). When they go live and realize they have too much or too little, they can scale up or down without any restrictions or upcharges. For example, if a retailer needs to scale up during the busy selling season and then scale back down in January, they will have that flexibility with GCP.

Sharon: What are the top cloud myths you’d like to dispel?

Kevin: The first one is about security. I think a few years ago the fear was that the cloud is not secure. But that’s not the case anymore and I’d argue that more customers are now moving to the cloud because they realize that it offers more security then they can ever maintain themselves.

The other myth is that the only reason to move to the cloud is for reduction in your total cost of ownership (TCO). We see more customers moving to the cloud now to begin to drive business transformation. They are also thinking about how to create completely new business models, as well as how to achieve simplicity and global scale. It’s not just about TCO and cost reduction.

Sharon: What’s next for the partnership between SAP and Google Cloud?

Kevin: There is a lot more news coming this year. We’ll talk about some of it at SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG Annual Conference. We have a very aggressive road map for running the largest environments in the world, natively on the cloud. So stay tuned.

Register today for SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG Annual Conference and save your spot for an “Overview of SAP Leonardo.” If you’re planning to attend a day earlier (Monday, May 6), register for ASUG Pre-Conference Seminar, “SAP Leonardo: Business Process Innovations for the Intelligent Enterprise.”