SAP, Microsoft Strike Software Integration Alliance

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Microsoft and SAP are tightening integration between some of their key products, unveiling plans Tuesday at SAP's Sapphire Now conference to support SAP's HANA data management and application platform on Microsoft's Azure cloud platform.

The move means that SAP's flagship SAP S/4 HANA application suite will run on Azure. The two companies are also integrating Microsoft's Office 365 cloud personal productivity applications with SAP's cloud-based enterprise applications. And they are jointly providing application management and security for custom applications built using SAP's Fiori through Microsoft's Intune cloud-based application management toolset..

The alliance was announced by SAP CEO Bill McDermott and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, the latter making a surprise appearance during McDermott's Sapphire Now keynote.

[Related: SAP Readies Cloud Channel Program, Seeking New Recruits And Offering Transition Help For Current Partners]

SAP, based in Walldorf, Germany, and Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft have long had a close relationship, despite competing in some areas like ERP and CRM applications. The companies previously built links between Microsoft's Office desktop applications and SAP's enterprise software. Tuesday's news extends that alliance to the two vendors' cloud product lines.

"We have a long heritage of working together," Nadella said. "When I look at the footprint of what we are accomplishing today to benefit customers, it's breathtaking."

Some leading systems integrators that work with both SAP and Microsoft also applauded the development partnership between the two vendors.

The SAP-Microsoft alliance "will open some additional doors for us," said Scott Schlesinger, an advisory services principal at Ernst & Young, an SAP partner, in an interview at Sapphire. "From the EY perspective, we're very tightly aligned with both companies, so we're excited."

He went on to describe the alliance as a "coup" for SAP that will help bring the vendor closer to end users within its customer companies. "It seems like SAP has been making some really good alliance moves," he added, pointing to the company's recent announcement of a partnership with Apple under which the two will work to connect Apple iOS mobile devices with SAP's enterprise applications.

Under the alliance, SAP and Microsoft will certify SAP HANA to run development, test and production software on Microsoft Azure, including SAP S/4 HANA. The companies said that provides customers with a new deployment option for SAP HANA, allowing enterprises to run mission-critical applications and data analytics on a large scale.

The two companies will also combine Office 365 communications, collaboration, calendar, documents and other application data with SAP cloud applications such as SuccessFactors, Ariba, Concur and Fieldglass. Some of the capabilities will be ready as early as the third quarter with others farther out in the future.

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