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SAP Cloud Platform, App Store Set For 2011

On-demand portfolio will also gain line-of-business extension applications and Business ByDesign For Subsidiaries.
SAP executives insisted the company is taking its own path to cloud computing and not just copying others. Business ByDesign stands out from competitors in that it covers a full suite of application functionality rather than just ERP or CRM, executives pointed out. Thus it will support a broader range of on-demand applications, they said.

Executives also stressed that SAP's platform will support a hybrid world in which companies blend on-demand and on-premise approaches.

"Our differentiator is the richness of the platform and the ability to tap into SAP's on-premise infrastructure," said Jeff Stiles, senior vice president of On-Demand Solutions.

Support for hybrid integration is key to SAP Business ByDesign for Subsidiaries, yet another release expected to roll out gradually during the first half of 2011. This distinct, partner-supported version of BBD will enable large organizations with on-premise SAP Business Suite deployments at headquarters to set up tightly integrated, yet localized on-demand deployments among far-flung divisions and subsidiaries.

"We've been working on this, but in the third quarter we were bowled over by demand from large customers," said Peter Lorenz, executive vice president of SAP On-Demand Solutions.

The next two upgrades of BBD, expected in January and June 2011, will add support for subsidiary deployments. SAP is working with "co-innovation" partners that are likely to lead the hybrid deployments.

BBD for Subsidiaries will give SAP an option for customers that might otherwise choose lower-cost vendors rather than extending SAP on-premise deployments. Competitors including Microsoft Dynamics and NetSuite have pitched their systems as a lower-cost alternative for SAP customers who need ERP deployments at divisions and subsidiaries.

SAP's critics say the company has dragged its feet on cloud computing in order to protect its legacy on-premise business. The depth and breadth of plans and investments detailed this week suggest that SAP has a deep commitment and a long-range plan for an on-demand future.

Compared with the likes of Salesforce.com, SAP has a long way to go in terms of actual cloud market penetration. But there are signs the company is gaining momentum.

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