BARCELONA, Spain — After running a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) for a few years, SAP has decided it wants more people to know about it. The company went on the cloud offensive at Mobile World Congress, rebranding its cloud as SAP Cloud Platform.
The company’s public cloud had formerly been called the SAP HANA Cloud Platform, as its primary use centered on SAP’s HANA database management system.
But the platform has become more than that. It now boasts 6,000 users, many of whom are using the PaaS to develop and host applications that have nothing to do with SAP, officials said during a Monday afternoon press conference here.
“All customers are asking for the same thing. They say, ‘I have to be a software company,'” said Rolf Schumann, global general manager of SAP Cloud Platform.
SAP runs its cloud out of its own data centers and announced two more today, planned for China and Japan.
SAP also announced today that a software development kit (SDK) for Apple’s iOS will reach general availability on March 30. The SDK had been announced last May as part of a partnership between the companies.
Among the company’s other announcements today were the availability of big data services (the result of the Altiscale acquisition in September) and the availability, later this quarter, of SAP’s Virtual Machine service in the United States. That service, which lets enterprises package old applications inside a virtual machine, is already available in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
The public cloud isn’t an easy place to compete. Vendors such as Cisco and VMware have scaled back their plans to offer public cloud services; both are now more focused on helping customers build hybrid IT environments that include public cloud.
Giants, led by Amazon Web Services (AWS), dominate the public cloud. SAP hopes to stand out by offering a PaaS rather than infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS).
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“We consider the public cloud infrastructure providers as partners,” said Bernd Leukert, a SAP board member, during the press conference. “Of course, we run in our own data centers, but we are vigorously working on making these services available on any infrastructure.”
The other cloud giants offer PaaS as well, so they will compete with SAP on that front. SAP’s advantage ia there will be a lack of cloud lock-in; the company is basing its PaaS on the open source Cloud Foundry project and is investing in container technologies, all in the name of letting customers port applications to other clouds, Leukert said.
Another noteworthy company with ambitions in IaaS, PaaS, and software-as-a-service (SaaS) is Oracle, SAP’s longtime rival in the database business. The cloud has been the star of the annual Oracle Openworld conference lately, with Oracle CTO Larry Ellison remarking that he didn’t really see SAP as a cloud competitor.
Asked about that, Leukert returned the favor, saying Oracle was still stuck in “Mode 1,” referring to the Gartner term for working on predictable and well understood problems. “In Mode 2, I have not seen them.”