SAP has taken knocks for being too slow to market with software-as-a-service applications. In 2008 when SAP slowed its efforts to bring its Business ByDesign cloud solution to market, saying it needed more time to get the product just right, critics said the company lacked a fundamental understanding of the differences between SaaS and on-premise software. SAP at first resisted adopting a multi-tenant architecture, the approach most SaaS vendors employ as a flexible and cost-effective way to provision computing resources.
What a difference a few years makes. At this week's Cebit conference in Hannover, Germany, SAP made several cloud-related announcements, spotlighting solutions for both its Business ByDesign and Business One product lines.
Speaking on a conference call, SAP co-CEO Jim Hagemann noted the ByDesign product is gaining traction in the market with both customers and partners. The software is now used by more than 1,000 customers, and partners have contributed more than 120 partner solutions available through the SAP Store.
Among the new features SAP is rolling out for Business ByDesign:
Beefed-up support for the iPad and iPhone, with sales catalog, account management, lead and opportunity management, as well as time and expense management, available for mobile users.
Enhanced professional service provider capabilities, including improvements in billing methods for customer projects, revenue recognition rules for customer contracts and advanced earned value analysis for projects and enhanced resource management.
New capabilities for distribution and manufacturing businesses, including third-party logistics, complete delivery, identified stock logistics and sub-material valuation.
SAP also said it is launching a new pilot program to promote tighter integration of SAP Business ByDesign with corporate HR and analytics applications of large companies, noting that larger companies are a growing market segment for ByDesign.
SAP also announced that its Business One software, which has been available as a hosted offering and positioned largely as a midmarket offering, will now also be sold in a multi-tenant version. SAP believes this option will appeal to businesses at the smaller end of the SMB scale.
In a statement, SAP said the software is "suitable for customers seeking to implement their first holistic ERP software as well as for affiliates of large enterprises with deep industry functionality requirements."
The product, called Business One OnDemand, will be sold only by partners. SAP is encouraging them to offer it on a subscription basis rather than the perpetual license pricing model commonly used for hosted deployments.
“Small companies with little infrastructure and outsourced IT are expecting cloud offerings, sometimes in easy combination with their existing software,” said Eric Duffaut, president, Ecosystem & Channels, SAP AG. “Together with our partners, SAP is committed to providing customers of all sizes with choice and a solution that fits their needs. Now, small companies can use SAP Business One on premise or in the cloud to run their businesses better.”
Like other traditional on-premise software vendors introducing SaaS products, SAP is positioning its SaaS offerings as more sophisticated than typical SaaS point solutions and a more natural fit for hybrid strategies in which companies will keep some applications on-premise while moving others to the cloud.
Read more about SAP ERP here.