In the SAP Partner Managed Cloud (PMC), the tenant obtains their entire SAP landscape from a single vendor, who is part of the SAP partner program. The vendor buys the license to the software from SAP and packages it with other software, managed services, cloud hosting, customization and/or other services into a complete SAP cloud solution, which is then leased to the tenant. This simplifies the process of finding the right provider and landscape, allows the tenant to transfer fully to an OpEx SAP solution and generally provides substantial savings over other pricing models.
Expert Insight — Curtis Gaska – Solution Architect
SAP tenants have a range of options for obtaining an SAP cloud solution. On one extreme, they can obtain their own SAP license, buy cloud hosting, SAP monitoring and other utilities, and assemble their own team of experts to manage SAP. The SAP partner managed cloud represents the other extreme, where customers buy an entire SAP cloud solution, rather than assembling it themselves. The provider then rents the tenant the SaaS solution for a certain period of time, giving the tenant the option to renew the contract or move on at the end of the term.
The Partner Managed Cloud is delivered by providers in the SAP PartnerEdge Program — more commonly referred to as the SAP partner program. SAP vets partners, and works closely with them to build, sell, service and run SAP solutions. Partners gain leverage with SAP, as well as access to training, tools and other resources, which help provide better value for tenants.
What Are the Benefits of the SAP Partner Managed Cloud?
The PMC allows tenants to compare and choose complete solutions with experienced SAP partners. Tenants can compare experienced vendors head to head, looking at what each offers, including pricing, industry-specific experience, value-added services and other factors. This greatly simplifies the process of choosing an ideal cloud solution, and provides reassurance that the partners are up to the needs of the particular tenant.
The SAP Partner Managed Cloud generally provides substantial savings as well. Individual partners can negotiate with SAP, and obtain licensing at lower cost, passing the savings on to the tenants. Choosing an SAP partner who operates their own cloud, and offers supporting services like disaster recovery and compliance along with SAP Basis can lower costs more, compared to a provider who rents these services from third parties.
The SAP PMC has also benefitted tenants by forcing providers to compete head to head. This controls costs, and encourages specialization. It’s easier than ever to find an SAP partner with a managed services model that addresses your organization’s needs, and has experience in your industry, vertical, and technology stack
The single-vendor model of the SAP PMC also tends to result in better service and easier vendor management. With one vendor in charge of everything, there’s one hand to shake, as SAP puts it. And if the partner doesn’t live up to their end of the bargain, there’s one throat to choke.
How is the Partner Managed Cloud Different From Other SAP Cloud Models?
SAP HANA ERP cloud strategy encompasses a range of cloud hosting and delivery models. On one end of SAP is the S/4HANA Public Cloud — a standardized SaaS offering, completely run and operated by SAP. The HANA Enterprise Cloud (HEC) provides somewhat more flexibility, but is still highly structured as a standardized SAP service.
The SAP PMC is different. Partners have freedom to design, price and customize each solution for their market, segment or tenant. In many cases, that makes it an ideal solution — particularly for companies which require customization.
Are There Any Drawbacks to the SAP Partner Cloud?
In the SAP PMC, your cloud solution is provided by your partner. SAP is still responsible for creating reliable software and releasing updates and patches, but it’s the partner who assembles them into a coherent solution, and keeps it running smoothly.
You need to carefully evaluate any potential partner’s experience, read their case studies, ask tough questions and get feedback from their clients. For most tenants, this isn’t a problem — businesses understand the importance of thoroughly vetting their SAP provider. However, it can be a major drawback if you assume the partner program guarantees your vendor is qualified to run your particular landscape. Do your due diligence.
Are There Any Use Cases Where the SAP PMC is Inappropriate?
You should be able to find a Partner Managed Cloud solution for most use cases. The only exceptions are for small businesses with extremely limited budgets, and SMEs with a very standardized set of requirements. If you don’t have the budget or the need for a customized SAP solution, you may be better off in the S/4HANA Public Cloud. This allows you to achieve standardized HANA-like functionality at a very low cost, with SAP handling management, patching, and other functions. However, most SAP users have already grown beyond this stage, and need some degree of customization.
Will I Be Able to Bring My Existing Assets to the SAP PMC?
Most companies don’t move to the SAP cloud with a clean slate. It’s very common for organizations to have SAP licenses that haven’t expired, hardware investments, service contracts and other valuable assets they wish to continue to harness as they move to the cloud. Furthermore, companies may have reasons they can’t completely commit to a particular partner’s cloud solution. For example, you might have industry-specific compliance requirements that require local hosting or particular data center controls in certain areas, which a partner can’t provide using its own cloud assets.
The good news is the SAP Partner Managed Cloud gives partners the flexibility to customize and price solutions for individual tenants. You should be able to find a partner that can work with you to meet your needs. If you need to use hybrid cloud hosting to leverage existing investments, work with a particular service model blending in-house and outsourced support, or continue using your existing SAP licenses until they expire, your partner should be able to support you.
How Can I Find the Right SAP Partner Program Vendor?
It can take a lot of work to find the perfect vendor, but the job is easier if you start by ruling vendors out. List your most challenging and exotic requirements, and compare them to vendor offerings and experience. Do you use an unusual platform like the IBM iSeries? Great — you can rule out anyone who doesn’t have that expertise. Do you have to meet challenging industry-specific regulations like 21 CFR Part 11 compliance? Fantastic — now you’re just looking at vendors with life sciences experience.
It’s also crucial to look at vendor experience from a business perspective as well as a technical perspective, and get input from stakeholders outside your IT department. That may sound obvious, but there are a lot of providers who may be competent at managing SAP, but may not have as much insight into ensuring your SAP solution supports the actual tasks your workers are doing on a day-to-day basis.
Finally, you need to look at service models. Will your partner assign a dedicated team to build and manage your landscape? Will they perform proactive performance tuning or wait until something breaks? If you have a problem, will you be able to get ahold of a highly-qualified expert who actually knows your particular SAP landscape, or will you be routed through a phone tree? No matter who you choose, there’s a good chance it will take a few meetings to find the right model.