The companies will establish a Centre of Excellence for customers by the third quarter, and plan to have new solutions out in 2020.
Intel and SAP have announced a multi-year technology partnership that extends the previous strategic relationship between the companies. It will optimize Intel’s platforms, including their Xeon Scalable processors and Optane DC persistent memory, for SAP’s end-to-end enterprise software applications, including SAP S/4HANA. It’s a partnering that Intel believes will have a really revolutionary impact in the market as it reaches a key inflection point in the ‘Golden Age of Data.’
“We are long-time partners with SAP over the last decade and more, and have both grown significantly in terms of the scope of our businesses,” said Raj Hazra, Corporate Vice-President in Intel’s Data Center Group. “They broadened from an ERP company to add AI and in-memory computing. In this unstoppable age of data, in-memory computing has been a key part of innovation as well. We have always provided leadership around servers, but with our Optane DC persistent memory, we are revolutionizing the storage, movement and processing of data. Innovation is changing. While we have deep relationships with all industry players, what is especially strategic about it this one is its building a long-term view of breakthrough technologies and the value they drive to the customer.”
Intel’s expanded partnership with SAP reflects this changed nature of innovation and responds to it in two key ways.
“First, we have become very proactive with co-design with SAP,” and are jointly working to create,” Hazra said. “That means more engineering resources, more co-engineering, and a long-term planning of the roadmap. We are not specifically talking about how many people, but it’s a co-designing team focused around what does the end user need and how is the best way to get there. We have done this in other areas, specifically High Performance Computing.”
The second thing that Hazra said substantially changes the SAP relationship from what it had been in the past is the establishment of the Center of Excellence [COE], where customers will be able to evaluate, innovate and adopt the jointly designed solutions.
“The COE will accelerate these into the marketplace at a lower cost and complexity of deployment for SAP customers,” he stated. “The COE is also a way for subject matter experts in both companies to work on specific problems like hardware and software roadmaps. We are hardware-centric and they are software-centric, but both have the same goal, which is a hunger to innovate to solve customer problems.”
Hazra said the plan is to get the COE up and running in short order.
“We intend to kick it off in the third quarter,” he indicated.
The new relationship’s primary benefits will be to SAP customers. Performance testing conducted last year indicated that SAP HANA customers deploying Intel Optane DC persistent memory have the capability of reducing data recovery times from 50 minutes to 4 minutes on a 6TB SAP HANA instance. In addition, Intel Optane DC persistent memory means much denser memory, letting customers to do more data processing within the same server. That saves them money in any scenario but is particularly valuable for customers converting to SAP S/4HANA.
“We look at this as a win-win,” Hazra said. “SAP customers benefit to get increasingly complex capabilities delivered in a smooth and less complex manner, using SAPs capabilities, running on Intel. When benefits are dependent on Intel innovations in the platform – that’s a huge win for us.”
Hazra also said that the relationship isn’t just about SAP S/4HANA
“That’s part of it, but it targets a much broader class of SAP’s applications, both cloud-based and on-prem,” he noted. That includes the SAP Leonardo portfolio of intelligent technologies and SAP Business Suite applications.
Hazra also emphasized what the companies see as the revolutionary nature of this partnership, which extends well beyond traditional strategic relationships.
“Today, we have a lot of data-intensive compute, as well as the whole notion of a platform with storage class memory with persistence and changing capabilities that can provide things that couldn’t have been done before,” he said. “Optane and the capabilities SAP is making in their software take advantage of that. The innovations in Xeon are revolutionary, and when you have a revolution, you have to bring customers along.”
Ultimately, Hazra said, while this relationship involves both companies’ innovations in memory, it’s really all about data.
“It’s all about not just storing data, but moving it and processing it as well,” he indicated. “All three have to come together. This is all about how we and SAP make hay together in the opportunity created by the Golden Age of Data. We are at a wonderful revolutionary moment in time caused by the combination of the Intel CPU platform married to Optane data centre memory. We are just at the tip of the iceberg in seeing how transformational this Optane persistent memory is. There are almost unlimited capabilities for new workloads and features using persistence. This strategic agreement is part of how we take that revolution and democratize it.”
Customers – and channel partners – can look for results quickly.
“This is not one of these long-term projects at all,” Hazra said. “In addition to kicking off the COE in the third quarter, we expect to see solutions in mutual infrastructure starting in 2020. And for our partners, it’s all about opportunity. The demand in the market is good for our partners as well.”
Hazra noted that while Intel doesn’t have another relationship of this magnitude ready to announce, they are very possible going forward.
“You will see us continue as we transform to partner to drive the data revolution forward – and hopefully on Intel,” he said. “Our strategy is to move data storage data and process data better than anywhere else.”