CenturyLink Beefs Up SAP Support
CenturyLink today rolled out an SAP-specific managed offering that makes it easier for enterprises using mission-critical SAP applications to migrate those to the SAP HANA platform, and then to automate management of them going forward. (See CenturyLink Upgrades Integrated Managed SAP Solution)
CenturyLink partnered with Cisco and its NetApp acquisition, and worked closely with SAP as a global premier supplier for SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud, to develop the new offering. It intends to reduce the complexity of migrating critical enterprise resource planning or customer experience management apps onto SAP HANA, which is the application developer's in-memory database and application development platform, introduced to be the foundation for SAP's initial apps, which were developed as separate point solutions.
The new offering reflects what CenturyLink is doing to meet its enterprise customers' specific needs and be a strategic partner in what they are doing in the cloud, notes David Roth, director of solutions marketing for CenturyLink.
Moving their existing SAP applications onto SAP HANA offers significant advantages including "enhancing the delivery of the data and the applications for end users and having a common platform on which to perform analytics" plus access to SAP analytics tools, Roth notes. But the migration process can be complex and enterprises are concerned that critical business apps may be impacted or unavailable, which they find unacceptable.
"They are complex apps that are often very custom and with pieces bolted to them and they are so business-critical that companies are ultra-focused on them," he says. "Like an ERP or CRM system is so critical to an organization that there is heightened awareness around them in terms of what we are doing with that data and they can't have down time, can't risk security or resiliency of that data."
What CenturyLink and Cisco are offering uses FlexPod technology developed by NetApp and Cisco to bring more automation and tighter governance to the process to make it simpler, faster and more secure, Roth tells Light Reading in an interview.
"This will also expedite and automate their ongoing management of SAP applications and the infrastructure on which they are hosted," Roth says.
CenturyLink also offers hosted and managed solutions for enterprise SAP applications, and SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud as well to its customers. With this announcement, it will begin delivering additional services to customers -- starting this summer -- that will allow them to choose the environment on which they wish to run their SAP applications, from private clouds, virtualized environments, bare-metal or multi-tenant solutions, Roth says.
But the real differentiation, he believes, is in the policy-driven automation, which draws on Cisco UCS and Applications-Centric Infrastructure technology, as well as another partner technology that enables policy-driven application deployment. Enterprises can set policies and the automated processes use those to apply governance that insures compliance in how the SAP applications are deploying within the infrastructure of choice.
"And it's not just deployment but how they service the ongoing management of that [app] in terms of patching and upgrading and enhancing," Roth says. This approaches eliminates the need to go back and make costly fixes and maintains "the transparency and conformity of those deployments for the entire environment -- driving that time efficiency, cost efficiency as well as security."
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading
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