SAP Relies on Kubernetes to Drive Hybrid HANA Clouds

SAP is now deploying the HANA in-memory database on top of Kubernetes as part of an effort to advance hybrid cloud computing.

Ken Tsai, global vice president and head of product marketing for cloud platform and data management, at SAP, says deploying HANA on top of Kubernetes not only makes it easier to deploy HANA in both multiple cloud computing and on-premises environments, it also provides the foundation on top of which SAP will federate data services across a hybrid cloud computing environment. The goal, he says, is to make HANA function as a true service that can scale up and down, versus requiring IT organizations to allocate a fix amount of IT infrastructure.

HANA is the second major application platform SAP has deployed on Kubernetes. The first, Vora, a big data analytics platform based on an instance of the open source Apache Spark framework, was deployed last year. Vora has since been subsumed into SAP Data Hub, a data virtualization offering that can read and process data without requiring data to be moved into a HANA database. Tsai won’t say how much of the rest of the SAP application platform portfolio might also one day wind up running on top of Kubernetes.

However, SAP also is working on deploying elements of the open source Cloud Foundry platform-as-a-service (PaaS) environment on Kubernetes. SAP is collaborating with SUSE with the goal of making the application development components of Cloud Foundry on a lighterweight Kubernetes platform. Cloud Foundry is at the core of the SAP Cloud Platform that SAP provides to host custom applications alongside its core applications running on top of its HANA database. Once the Cloud Foundry components are made available on Kubernetes, SAP has signaled it will allow organizations to mix and match those components as they see fit.

SAP is also in the early stages of defining continuous development/continuous integration (CI/CD) processes intended to help customers accelerate development and deployment, and has begun publishing use cases and customer journeys intended to serve as guides for building and deploying applications spanning SAP Cloud Platform and SAP application environments. According to the company, SAP Cloud Platform is being used by 13,700 developers working at more than 9,500 organizations.

SAP is one of the first major application vendors to embrace Kubernetes as a core enabling technology for deploying software. Other ISVs are likely to follow suit. In fact, packaged application vendors are emerging as a primary vehicle for introducing Kubernetes into enterprise IT environments.

In the case of SAP, it’s clear that both its approach to packaged and custom application development is starting to converge around containers running on Kubernetes clusters. It may take a while for the strategy to fully manifest. But the days when SAP was considered primarily as a provider of packaged application software are starring to fade. In its place is a software behemoth that clearly has set its sights on becoming equally relevant in the development of custom applications.

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.

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