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July 26, 2012
SAP Business ByDesign, the company’s cloud-based ERP platform, now has a software development kit (SDK) for partners. More than 20 partners are now using the kit to write custom add-ons for SAP’s cloud platform. Assuming the SDK works as advertised, it could be a significant gain for additional cloud partners and customers.
Within the IT channel, some partners have been calling on Microsoft, SAP and others to open up their SaaS platforms with SDKs. A prime example of the challenges: While Microsoft’s Windows Azure (IaaS, PaaS) runs third-party applications, Microsoft’s Office 365 (SaaS) is largely locked down — preventing software developers from writing or launching extensions for Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Lync Online and so forth. Meanwhile, I believe the Oracle Cloud team will be making major ISV announcements at Oracle OpenWorld (Sept. 30-Oct. 4, San Francisco).
Meanwhile, SAP’s SDK could be a significant win for ERP consulting firms and integrators that are shifting customers from on-premises applications to cloud-based services. Some channel partners worry their “value-add” will disappear in the cloud. In stark contrast, partners with software development expertise are best positioned to thrive in the cloud, Gartner VP Tiffani Bova has often stated.
When describing the SDK, SAP said:
“As part of the kit, SAP will provide developers with various capabilities, including Web services, which will allow the newly created partner add-on to exchange information with existing SAP or third-party cloud applications. Reusable building blocks — so called templates — will enable partners to create customer-specific add-ons much faster. Improved usability, including advanced documentation and examples, will help partners understand and start working with the SDK instantly — reducing the need for extensive training.”
I’m intrigued. The vast majority of SAP’s business remains on-premises. But this kit and other recent SAP channel moves — such as new recruit Meaghan Kelly — show that the company is focused on new opportunities for SMB channel partners.
Also, SAP is using an idea forum to gather, centralize and activate cloud-related partner ideas. The forum has so far gathered 1,400 entries, and 800 of which have been implemented. Key ideas include greater support for managed services agreements common in IT, media, marketing and other consulting services, SAP indicated.
In SAP’s most recent quarter, cloud revenues more than doubled.
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