SAP Enterprises Get ERP Hosting in the Cloud

By Jessica Davis  |  Print this article Print

On the eve of SAP’s Sapphire Now Conference in Orlando, SAP hosting provider Symmetry says interest is high in SAP ERP hosting services, taking enterprise applications to the cloud. Such services like those offered by Symmetry together with SAP’s announcement of plans to acquire Sybase and juice up its mobile support for devices like smartphones just may give SAP the edge it needs after a tough few years competing with nimble cloud-based players such as Salesforce.com

Businesses that have come to rely on enterprise applications from vendors such as Oracle and SAP may believe that the complexity of their systems will prevent them from ever taking advantage of the benefits outsourcing those systems to the cloud.

And customers are gravitating towards the cloud, both for the nimbleness it offers them, the reduced capex it offers, as well as the reduction in complexity. Just look at SAP’s annual revenue decline for 2009 vs. cloud-based enterprise applications system Salesforce.com’s revenue increase for roughly the same period to see the difference.

Does that mean customers who have an existing investment in SAP applications are out of luck? Not at all. Witness IT solution provider Symmetry, which offers outsourced SAP infrastructure services to end customer companies.

Symmetry CEO Dan Wilhelms estimates that customers who switch to a hosted SAP model save about 30 percent over running it themselves in house.

Symmetry will provision new servers for customers or transfer their existing servers to Symmetry’s data center. Symmetry will then take over the complexity of managing, maintaining and administering the SAP system.

And it’s a business that’s growing, Wilhelms tells Channel Insider.

"There is a much greater interest in hosting and software as a service than there has been in years past," he says. "More and more companies are taking a hard look at their IT competencies."

Symmetry has provided  has SAP technical administration services for the last 14 years from its center of excellence in Milwaukee, WI.  But in the last two years the company has added a data center hosting component, enabling end customers to move all their hardware on software to Symmetry’s data center.

"Many clients had SAP servers hosted by third parties," Wilhelms says. "What we’ve found is that traditional hosting providers have business models that are not conducive to running SAP. Traditional hosting providers have relied on a shared infrastructure model where they buy large pieces of equipment and rent pieces to as many people as possible."

And while that may make sense for email or a simple database offering, SAP applications are too big and complex for such an arrangement. They can have thousands of users hundreds of terabytes of data.

"Our hosting model is designed around dedicated systems for each of our clients," Wilhelms says. "That allows clients to move their existing SAP servers to our environments rather than buying new infrastructure if they want to make a hosting decision."

Jessica Davis covers the channel for eWeek and Channel Insider. Her technology journalism career began well before anyone heard of the World Wide Web and has included stints at Infoworld, Electronic News/EDN, and the Philadelphia Business Journal. Her work has also appeared on CNN and Forbes.com. She has covered hardware, software and networking, as well as the business side of technology. She has won several journalism awards, including a national ASBPE award for best staff-written column, and was named Marketing Computers hardest working tech journalist on their inaugural list of top tech journalists. Jessica can be reached at jessica.davis@ziffdavisenterprise.com