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SAP Unveils Blockchain And Machine Learning Offerings, Expands Its PaaS System To Azure And Google Cloud

The software company, at its SapphireNow 2018 conference, also launched a program to enlist partners to develop packaged solutions for the Leonardo digital innovation platform.

SAP continued to expand its cloud reach Wednesday, announcing that the SAP Cloud Platform, the vendor's Platform-as-a-Service offering, is now available on Microsoft Azure and the Google Cloud Platform. The company also announced a new partnership with IBM under which IBM will offer the private edition of SAP Cloud Platform as a private cloud deployment.

And on the technology front, SAP dived deeper into the nascent blockchain technology arena Wednesday with the new SAP Cloud Platform Blockchain service for building and extending distributed database business applications using blockchain technologies. It also debuted new machine learning capabilities embedded across a wide swath of SAP's product portfolio.

The wave of announcements came at SAP's SapphireNow 2018 conference in Orlando, where on Tuesday the company unveiled its new C/4HANA CRM system and the new SAP HANA Data Management Suite.

[Related: SAP Launches New CRM, Data Management Suites As Execs Tout 'Intelligent Enterprise' Vision]

More specific to the channel, SAP launched the SAP Leonardo Partner Medallion Initiative, an effort to enlist the channel to develop digital solutions that run with SAP Leonardo, the vendor's digital innovation platform that incorporates IoT, big data, analytics, machine learning and blockchain technologies.

Through the initiative SAP provides support and certification for "industry innovation accelerators," partner-developed tools and materials developed for specific industries and business processes that can be packaged and implemented in a fixed-time, fixed-scope fashion.

"There's a really strong channel play there in providing customers with repeatable solutions that extend Leonardo's capabilities," said Jayne Landry, Global Vice President, Solution Management, SAP Leonardo and Analytics, in an interview with CRN at SapphireNow.

A number of systems integrator and technology partners have been recruited for the project including Abeam Consulting, Accenture, Capgemini, Deloitte, HCL, EY, Hitachi Consulting, KPIT, Mindtree's Bluefin SAP practice, NTT, PwC, Tata Consultancy Services and Wipro. The project has already produced 35 industry innovation accelerators with 43 more in development, according to the company.

SAP also unveiled Leonardo-based innovation kits for specific industries, such as retail, manufacturing, automotive and life sciences, that customers can use to embed Leonardo technologies within their own applications.

The SAP Cloud Platform announcement is part of SAP's multi-cloud strategy through which the software vendor will make its software available on other vendor's platforms rather than try to compete with them.

SAP's Cloud Platform is already available on Amazon Web Services. With the addition of Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform, SAP Cloud Platform now runs on all three major hyperscale cloud service providers, noted Dan Lahl, SAP global vice president of SAP Cloud Platform product marketing, in an interview with CRN at SapphireNow.

Under the deal with IBM, the private edition of SAP Cloud Platform will run on IBM as a private cloud deployment. That will allow customers in regulated industries, such as banking and healthcare, as well as those with sensitive data, to develop cloud applications in a secure, controlled environment.

In another expansion of SAP's cloud strategy, the vendor announced that SAP Analytics Cloud capabilities are now embedded directly within the S/4HANA Cloud application set.

SAP is also developing use-case templates for customers building projects around SAP Cloud Platform, Lahl said, with about 20 completed and another 40 to 50 in development.

In February SAP announced a new consumption-based pricing model for SAP Cloup Platform in a move to make it easier for customers to buyCloud Platform services and build applications that run on it. This week Lahl said the pricing model is now available globally.

The new SAP Cloud Platform Blockchain service will help businesses to build and extend business applications using blockchain technologies such as Hyperledger Fabric and MultiChain. The service is targeted at manufacturing and supply chain applications, particularly in areas like food and pharmaceuticals where product safety is critical.

SAP has also started a blockchain consortium with seven founding members, including Intel, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co., and A3 by Airbus SE, to accelerate adoption of blockchain technology and best practices through the global transportation industry.

One year ago SAP announced the addition of machine learning technology to the Leonardo system. This week the company said it is embedding machine learning capabilities within software across the company's product portfolio including the SAP S/4HANA Cloud applications, SAP C/4HANA and SAP Ariba.

The vendor also said it has expanded the SAP Leonardo Machine Learning Foundation system, which customers use to develop individual applications, with five new services including object detection, text recognition in images, and text classification – the latter of which analyzes and automatically categorizes text documents.

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