SAP commits to public cloud hosted in Middle East

Published: 1 June 2016 - 2:07 a.m.
By: Mark Sutton

SAP is set to invest in cloud solutions hosted in the Middle East, according to CEO Bill McDermott.

Speaking to ITP while visiting Dubai, McDermott said that the company will make its software solutions available through public cloud services which are hosted in the region, to address customer concerns over data domain.

"I made a commitment to make our cloud solutions available in the region. I know in the region, data and security that is contained within in the region is what the customer wants, and that is exactly what the customer is going to get," McDermott said. "There are companies that feel comfortable with a cloud, no matter where the actual data centre is located, but there are also a lot of companies that want it localised, and they want the cloud in the region.

"We have already made the financial decisions as a company, we are doing it, it is in full-flight. You can get a private cloud environment in the region right now, and I will also be able to offer you public cloud solutions in the region very shortly. This is a decision we have made as a company.

"We love this region, we see an amazing opportunity to grow in the region and we just have to make it easy for the region to access our innovation and thought leadership, whether they want to rent it in the cloud or invest in it as a capital decision, whatever they want, they can have it their way," he added.

SAP solutions including BusinessOne and Business by Design are already available via cloud models, but the company will develop software-as-a-service run from data centres in the region. Many organisations in the region have been dissuaded from public cloud offerings because of concerns of data security and where the data will actually be held.

Provision of public cloud services would enable organisations to access innovative new solutions more quickly and more cost effectively, McDermott added.

During the recent SAP Sapphire Now user conference, held in Florida in May, the company signed five implementation partners for technical reference architectures, so that these partners can provide customers with fast and straightforward deployments, based on a model developed by SAP around value points.

"The idea is to give the customer the fastest time-to-value, the most simple implementation, with the greatest return on investment. [It is not about] long drawn-out projects, is how quickly can you get it done and get value.

Ahmed AlFaifi, managing director of SAP Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Yemen said that the company's cloud business is growing faster than expected in Saudi Arabia, indicating a growing comfort with cloud as a deployment model. Local hosting would complement localisation of SAP applications to meet this growing demand he added.

While the exact deployment model for SAP public cloud was not disclosed, SAP is working with partners and selected customers to host data centres in country, AlFaifi stated.

Preference for cloud is increasing as organisations look for convenience and speed to market, AlFaifi said, and the cost of deploying solutions in a traditional on premise model is also a factor, particularly for SMEs. Another issue is the lack of IT talent available to support and maintain inhouse deployments he said.

Better access to modern business applications will help companies to become more efficient and better connected, in line with the Saudi Vision 2030 strategic plan, Al Faifi said. SAP is also keen to support Vision 2030 in many of the key vertical industries that are specifically mentioned in the plan, such as manufacturing, tourism, finance, health, primary industries and education; areas where SAP already has expertise, he added.

"For 2030, we are very excited," he said. The plan is very deep, it is not just covering one aspect, but it has specific targets for the country. All aspects of the vision are touching what SAP is doing, so we think we can have a major role to play to execute this strategy."

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