At the annual conference SAPPHIRE NOW, SAP announced new products, services and partnerships centered on advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics. It also made a significant announcement concerning its work on distributed ledger technology (DLT), releasing the SAP Cloud Platform Blockchain as a new “blockchain-as-a-service” for enterprises.
“This blockchain-as-a-service (BaaS) provides the easiest, lowest-risk gateway to experimenting with distributed ledger technology in the cloud,” according to the company’s description of the product. “Eliminate the need for a large upfront capital investment and fast-track blockchain implementation across your business.”
SAP, headquartered in Germany, is a leading provider of enterprise software and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, with over 335,000 enterprise customers in over 180 countries. SAP systems and services are used by 87 percent of global businesses and 98 percent of the top-100 most valued brands.
Most SAP clients are still in the early proof-of-concept phase of DLT adoption, but SAP is already providing DLT services to its clients, according to Gil Perez, senior vice president for product and innovation and head of digital customer initiatives at SAP, as reported by TechCrunch.
The new blockchain service allows for the building of business applications with DLTs, such as Hyperledger Fabric and MultiChain. According to Perez, “SAP is taking an agnostic approach” to the underlying blockchain technology. DLT is still in an early development phase, and “SAP doesn’t want to commit” to any underlying blockchain “until the market decides which way to go.”
During the conference, the company also announced that the SAP Cloud Platform is now available on all major cloud infrastructure providers, including the Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure. SAP also intends to release a private edition of the SAP Cloud Platform, targeted at clients in regulated industries such as banking, healthcare and transportation, as well as those managing sensitive data.
In September 2017, SAP announced a “blockchain co-innovation initiative” and that it plans to make DLT “an integrated part of [IoT], manufacturing and digital supply chain solutions.” The first companies participating in the initiative included Capgemini and Deloitte.
“Our early access customers and partners can join SAP to get a first-mover advantage innovating and scaling blockchain [technology] as a core part of their Internet of Things strategies,” said Tanja Rueckert, president of IoT and digital supply chain at SAP, per the announcement.
So far, SAP’s blockchain co-innovation initiative has helped about 65 companies to integrate DLT solutions in industries such as transportation, food and pharmaceuticals. For example, U.S. sausage maker Johnsonville is using DLT to trace the origin of products in its supply chain.
“SAP is steadfast in its belief that the technology can dramatically alter business processes and IT,” noted a ZDNet commentary. “Blockchain [technology], along with machine learning and artificial intelligence, are seen as cogs in what SAP is betting will become the intelligent enterprise.”
To expand and accelerate global adoption and best practices of blockchains in the transportation industry, SAP has started a global industry blockchain consortium with seven founding members, including Intel and Hewlett Packard. The consortium was created after customer feedback on DLT received via an Enterprise Blockchain Survey indicated a need. The survey covered future applications of DLT, current use cases and how to accelerate DLT market adoption and business impact.
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