IBM, SAP Team Up to Move Legacy Workloads to Hybrid Cloud

The longtime partners have crafted new portfolios that, presumably, will benefit the channel.

Kelly Teal, Contributing Editor

February 10, 2022

4 Min Read
Cloud Agreement

IBM and SAP are teaming up once again, this time to move clients’ legacy workloads to hybrid cloud.

The two companies have worked together for a long time. Now, IBM has agreed to become SAP’s first partner to deliver cloud infrastructure and technical managed services. Big Blue will focus on helping end users to adopt hybrid cloud platforms. It’s all part of the Rise with SAP portfolio, launched last year to support digital transformation.

As for what IBM’s partnership with the enterprise resource planning provider means for the channel, here’s what Keith Costello, IBM General manager for global SAP business, told Channel Futures on Thursday:


IBM’s Keith Costello

“SAP modernization is a huge market and the opportunity is real. The S/4HANA services business alone is expected to be $20 billion, industry-wide, over the next two years. Meanwhile, the world is gravitating toward SaaS solutions. And for the channel, another huge opportunity lies in many mission-critical systems that integrate with SAP – for pricing, logistics or testing. These, too, need to be modernized. When it comes down to it, client issues are not purely SAP, it is also the larger infrastructure that needs to be re-imagined, such as using Red Hat to bring apps up to date so they can integrate efficiently with S/4HANA. The high volume of pent-up demand in the market is making it essential for IBM, SAP and partners across the globe to work together even more closely than ever.”

On top of that, IBM launched Breakthrough with IBM for Rise with SAP. That’s a fancy name for a new package of technology and consulting services that will get end users to S/4Hana Cloud faster via IBM Cloud. Breakthrough with IBM for Rise with SAP comprises infrastructure, guidance and application-management services.


IBM in 2020 commissioned a study performed by research firm IDC. It shows that migrating to SAP S/4Hana on IBM Cloud helped up to 90% of organizations to increase revenue. A majority of respondents (80%) also said they reduced operational costs as a result of the migration.

The IBM and SAP offerings mirror similar initiatives in the industry to get organizations out of tired, inefficient legacy workloads and into more agile setups that rely on the cloud. Take Oracle’s Cloud Lift, for instance, or VMware’s Cloud Universal. What IBM and SAP are doing is not new, but it does address a critical mass problem — 99 of the 100 largest companies in the world use SAP. Other estimates indicate SAP serves more than 400,000 customers overall. The point is that the companies are tackling a longstanding need to give customers access to cloud-based services. That way, organizations can better support remote and hybrid work, while meeting compliance and security requirements.

Removing Barriers

“Together with Rise with SAP, we will remove the complexity and barriers in our clients’ environments through our deep industry expertise in consulting and hybrid cloud capabilities that put security at the forefront,” John Granger, senior vice president, IBM Consulting, said. “Our shared commitment is to meet our joint clients where they are in their digital journey while bringing them choice to determine the right strategy to migrate or modernize their … workloads.”

Brian Duffy, president of cloud at SAP, meanwhile, praised IBM’s new portfolio.


SAP’s Brian Duffy

“Breakthrough with IBM is an outstanding complement to Rise with SAP as it lays the foundation for our customers to embark on or advance their business transformation journeys,” he said. “Further, it reaffirms the value customers recognize from Rise with SAP, and the impact and innovation opportunity Rise with SAP offers to organizations that move to the cloud.”

IBM and SAP have worked together for 50 years. IBM has acted as both a customer and partner over those five decades (SAP was founded in 1972). As part of that relationship, and its own evolution in progress, IBM says it is investing in Rise with SAP to transform its own infrastructure.

Want to contact the author directly about this story? Have ideas for a follow-up article? Email Kelly Teal or connect with her on LinkedIn.


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About the Author(s)

Kelly Teal

Contributing Editor, Channel Futures

Kelly Teal has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist, editor and analyst, with longtime expertise in the indirect channel. She worked on the Channel Partners magazine staff for 11 years. Kelly now is principal of Kreativ Energy LLC.

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