SAP position in IoT
In September 2008, SAP wrote the white paper “Towards an European Strategy for the Future Internet – – A Call for Action –“ in which the company explored the challenges of IOT and recommended action by European Industry and European policy-makers at all levels to ensure that Europe reaps the full benefits of the Future Internet. SAP was fully committed to taking a leading role in this endeavor. Six years later, and maybe because SAP transformed into a different company to compete against Oracle, IBM or Microsoft, I am not as sure the company is leading it.
In late 2012, SAP appointed a VP of the Internet of Things, Suhas Uliyar, and now at Oracle, announced a big step forward in its strategy. In March, 2013, It was also announced that SAP and Ericsson launched a joint cloud M2M service that they will market and sell together. Ericsson contributes the technology, such as network infrastructure and middleware, for devices to communicate with each other.
Today at SAP web site we can read: “SAP end-to-end offering for Internet of Things provides everything your business needs to create a System of Things – M2M Connectivity, cloud platform, device management, big data management, event stream processing, predictive analytics, and apps-to make IoT projects real, repeatable and scalable.”
There will be major changes in industry due to IoT and SAP is looking at how it will impact business processes at SAP and customers. SAP feels it has a suite of technologies designed for IoT projects; filling holes with partners. But, I believe that SAP has a long way to be the preferred IoT platform vendor.
I am sure that in M2M Industrial world the need to integrate IoT applications with SAP Business Suite will make necessary to consider SAP as an important player in the ecosystem.
In the other hand, I do not see SAP playing an important role in the consumer IoT market.
Let’s take a quick overview at SAP Technology and Solutions for IoT.
SAP Technology for IoT
SAP is focused on extending systems of record to embrace what is becoming a “system of things.” The IoT solution from SAP leverages the SAP Data Management portfolio, allowing companies to turn massive amounts of IoT data into meaningful insights and decisions – securely and affordably.
The SAP Data Management portfolio is a unified data management framework capable of addressing a wide range of scenarios like these. It is designed to bring traditional IT landscapes into the IoT era without disruption. It provides the necessary technologies for addressing the challenges associated with next generation applications, from the device to the data center.
Secure Device and Data Management – SAP Afaria® mobile device management
The SAP Data Management portfolio helps ensure that data stored and transmitted by connected sensors and intelligent assets is secure. It provides unified control of connected devices through a single console, helping to keep devices up-to-date with zero disruption. These capabilities are enabled primarily by SAP Afaria® mobile device management solution.
Reliable Data Capture – SAP SQL Anywhere®
One of the great advantages of the IoT-M2M paradigm is the ability to collect valuable data from many new sources – from within your enterprise and from beyond your traditional IT boundaries. The SAP Data Management portfolio provides technologies necessary to protect this data and to prevent fraudulent devices from attempting to interact with your organization.
SAP SQL Anywhere® solutions include mobile and remote data management and synchronization software that can replicate data securely, as well as encrypt data both on the device (if the device is compliant with SAP SQL Anywhere) and also as it moves between the device and the enterprise.
Complex Event Processing – SAP Event Stream Processor
SAP Event Stream Processor (SAP ESP) is a complex event processing engine that can examine data that is being streamed into the enterprise from a large number of devices simultaneously. SAP ESP can look at the values for a single device and determine if they are unusual and thus potentially fraudulent. This can be done either using fixed boundaries or moving averages.
Big and Fast Database – SAP HANA, SAP ESP and SAP SQL Anywhere
Many next-generation applications will require near-real-time response times to live up to the promise of the Internet of Things, but not all applications will. The SAP Data Management portfolio addresses a variety of data latency requirements within the same unified framework. This allows enterprises to deploy the technologies that make the most sense in different business scenarios.
SAP HANA and SAP ESP combine to help ensure that systems can handle the volume and velocity of data that is expected from the Internet of Things.
SAP SQL Anywhere can be used as a feature-rich local database. It has sophisticated batch and replication technology that allows a device to go offline but still collect data, and then synchronize the data when the connection is reestablished.
Because SAP SQL Anywhere is a complete data management solution running on the device or at the local level, the device can still be active even without a connection to a centralized analytics server.
Real-time and predictive analytics – SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud and SAP IQ
SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud service, is ideally suited for IoT applications. In-memory technology provides real-time integration of business processes and analytics at a degree and scale not possible until now. It enables to analyze operational, analytical, and text data in real time, without delays caused by the need to move or replicate data from multiple sources.
Complementing the in-memory access that SAP HANA provides, SAP IQ software used as near-line storage (NLS) offers rapid access to massive volumes of less-critical data stored cost-effectively on disk. It enables to analyze vast quantities of data faster than a traditional relational database and is therefore very useful when combing IoT-generated data with historical data for pattern detection or trend analysis.
Process Integration Tools
Integrating Internet of Things aspects into Business Process Modelling and related tools is one of the key challenges that need to be overcome in order to see wider deployment of IoT technologies, and thus, to be able to reap the many potential benefits that have been postulated for the IoT.
Application Development Framework – HANA/ESP Studio
The development environment for SAP HANA supports a wide variety of application-development scenarios. For example, database developers need to be able to build a persistence model or design an analytic model; professional developers want to build enterprise-ready applications; business experts with a development background might like to build a simple server-side, line-of-business application; and application developers need to be able to design and build a client user interface (UI) that displays the data exposed by the data model and business logic. It is also essential to set up the development environment correctly and securely and ensure the efficient management of the various phases of the development lifecycle
Recommendation: Only for SAP fanatics. Nevertheless, captive SAP customers need to evaluate SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud and SAP IQ for Analytics industry applications. IoT is a sales opportunity for its in-memory database, HANA.
SAP Solutions for IoT
A couple of years ago, one of the first Internet of things scenarios that SAP created was a specific HANA application for SAP Smart Meter Analytics. However, looking at their public webthe only 3 IoT solutions based are:
- Remote Service Management
- Smart Vending
- Connected Logistics
Recommendation: SAP is partnering with different companies to allow SAP Customers Unlock the Power of Intelligent Things. Focus on these solutions and unless your company likes to be an early adopter and agree to be in the Ram-Up, wait until SAP provide more industry IoT solutions.
SAP doesn’t have an end to end solution for IoT but is partnering with Telcos, device manufacturers and working at industry level to deliver a solution. The company is engaging with some customer in IoT pilot projects and I expect they can announce some IoT use cases as part of their industry business solutions based on these pilots.
I believe that SAP strategy for IoT is not clear yet and in spite SAP is definitely in the process of exploring its options and opportunities in the current hype surrounding IoT, SAP need to do more than announcing its vision for the Internet of Thing with Cisco.
However, making the IOT into something safe and secure for enterprise or industrial applications won’t happen overnight, and SAP can brings software like SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud and SAP ESP and the computing platform that can make sense of the data transmitted by devices in industry business proce.
SAP need to continue working hard with its partners to attract more enterprise clients to run IoT pilots, and again the company need to differentiate from other IT vendors as the leader in Enterprise Business Applications including IoT as part of the industry scenarios.
Finally, that SAP should clarify its Cloud strategy, either making clear its commitment to AWS or buying a cool Cloud vendor (can you imagine that SAP bought SalesForce? Or DropBox or Cloudera ?).
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