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SAP and IBM on Oct. 14 announced a global cloud computing alliance that gives SAP access to more than 40 data centers around the globe to host the SAP HANA in-memory computing platform.

Leveraging the IBM SoftLayer cloud, SAP will deploy instances of its SAP HANA cloud platform, along with the portfolio of SAP applications that either already do, or soon will, run on SAP HANA in every region around the world.

One of the things of which SAP channel partners should take particular note is that the IBM SoftLayer cloud gives them the option of deploying SAP applications and databases on both virtual or physical servers that are both programmable via a common set of APIs, said Jim Comfort, general manager for cloud services at IBM.

“For both speed and security reasons, a lot of times a customer still wants to deploy software on a physical server,” Comfort said. “The API management capabilities of the IBM SoftLayer cloud are very robust.”

Although the IBM Software Group now frequently competes with the SAP HANA platform, the need to be able to leverage a global cloud platform apparently enables SAP to overlook that aspect of its relationship with IBM.

For IBM, the SAP suite of applications adds some of the most widely used applications in the enterprise to an ISV ecosystem that has grown considerably since IBM acquired SoftLayer last year.

For solution providers that need to deploy SAP applications globally, the alliance with IBM will enable SAP to immediate address data sovereignty issues by taking advantage of data centers that are physically located on every major continent, according to Kevin Ichhpurani, SAP senior vice president and head of corporate business development.

“For us, data sovereignty was a key issue,” Ichhpurani said. “IBM provides us with the global reach we need to address that issue.”

The existence of those clouds makes it a lot easier for SAP customers to start consolidating multiple instances of SAP applications that many customers have installed in different regions around the globe, he said.

The end result for partners of both companies, Ichhpurani said, is an opportunity to bring customers into the age of the cloud at the pace with which they feel comfortable.

Michael Vizard has been covering IT issues in the enterprise for 25 years as an editor and columnist for publications such as InfoWorld, eWEEK, Baseline, CRN, ComputerWorld and Digital Review.