September 6, 2016
By Derek Handova
Today’s IT environment requires that managed service providers (MSPs) be skilled and agile, able to scale and take on new projects that stem from the foundational elements of infrastructure and enterprise application support. The premise: If you trust someone to handle your racks and engine, trust them to configure your latest business application and integrate it into your existing architecture, according to MSP industry participants.
All five pillars of IT support—infrastructure, database administration, technical support, functional/end-user support and development application support—work together in harmony to make IT run like a well-oiled machine. That’s why it is critical for MSPs to offer best-of-breed, end-to-end enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions—whether SAP HANA and/or Oracle—to make outsourcing these capabilities seamless across the board, according to these experts.
“From assessment and design to implementation and support, having a service provider who can manage end-to-end support for both Oracle and SAP can drive synergies,” says Gina Murphy, COO, TriCore Solutions, a multi-ERP cloud solution provider, “while minimizing need for additional in-house staff for each custom solution.” According to Murphy, this provides immediate benefits such as:
Reduced vendor cost
Increased efficiencies of managing the environment
Heightened knowledge of both ERP solutions, benefiting customers in the short term and as they transition
Ability to work with customers running databases other than SAP on SAP platforms as they migrate to SAP HANA
Next Steps for MSPs on SAP and Oracle Cloud
The next strategic step for MSPs is to provide ERP solutions in a hybrid or public cloud setting. MSPs that are not thinking about how to do this for SAP and Oracle ERP solutions will be left behind, according to the experts. As the two leading platforms for advanced data processing and next-generation applications, it’s important that MSPs work with both solutions to meet customer needs for performing real-time analytics and developing and deploying real-time applications, analysts say.
“While there may be specific benefits, disadvantages and synergies between the two industry-leading platforms, what should be most important to MSPs today is transitioning to cloud-based, as-a-service deployments of both,” says Dave Goodman, director, transformation, Alsbridge, an IT sourcing and advisory firm. “By doing so, they can dramatically improve the customer experience, provide a centralized customer support system and eliminate the ‘Ping-Pong’ effect of customer support that is a frequent complaint of customers working with MSPs.”
The key question is not what the better-breed solution is, according to Goodman, but how it’s deployed to help customers more easily transition to the cloud.
Differentiator for MSPs
For the most part, MSPs fall into either the SAP or Oracle camps. So one of the main benefits of offering a multi-ERP cloud solution is that it sets an MSP apart from the competition. And a provider that can deliver the best solution from either source has lots of credibility with its end customers, according to the experts.
“Being able to supply end-to-end services for ERP applications will continue to be a differentiator for managed service providers,” Murphy says. “With many companies running multiple ERP solutions from Oracle and SAP, it is important for service providers to support both equally. Expertise in architecture, design, functional and technical development and managed application support of Oracle and SAP solutions allow customers to realize the greatest ROI.”
Thus, it creates an environment where customers continue to invest in the platform, stay current with maintenance and add modules—a good thing for the customer and vendor, according to Murphy.
Oracle Plays Catch up
Even given an MSP that offers both major ERP platforms as cloud solutions will have a unique selling proposition, others still see one ecosystem as having advantages over the other. For example, some MSPs feel that SAP has superiority over Oracle due to its organic, integrated technology stack.
“When we looked at the needs in the ERP space we felt that the space was underserviced by the five pillars of IT,” says Christopher Carter, CEO and CTO, Approyo, a leading global SAP technology solution provider. “We reviewed the players in the market and decided there were two major players and a larger group of SMB players. We chose SAP over Oracle because we saw a solution that was going places with SAP HANA where we saw Oracle was a patchwork solution.”
In fact, beyond its core database offering, Oracle has mostly synthesized its applications lineup via acquisition, such as its most recent announcement to buy NetSuite, arguably the very first ERP cloud solution. And NetSuite will greatly increase Oracle’s footprint in the ERP cloud space, according to third party cloud experts.
“Oracle’s acquisition of NetSuite is a powerful move that enhances its market share in the cloud ERP application space, significantly expanding the customer base, assets, sales and operational capabilities,” says Terri Strauss, global managing director, Oracle business, Accenture. “We look forward to taking advantage of new capabilities these two companies bring together to propel our clients to the new (era of) IT.”
A Larger Footprint
According to some MSP experts, SAP has a larger footprint worldwide for cloud applications and user support than Oracle, which remains very important to customers. In addition, SAP offers more uptime than Oracle, they say.
“When looking at an MSP people need to dig deep into how they will connect and how staff locally—and around the globe—will connect,” Carter says. “SAP has a big footprint—customers need to know you will be able to handle that straight up and be able to grow the footprint when they need. Plus, you have to do it with zero percent downtime. The advantage that SAP allows an MSP is to provide companies an ability to grow their landscape footprint. That’s great because we can create a separate network that will allow us to grow the footprint in a clean easy manner.”
And with SAP having certified VMware years ago, a fully redundant, backed up highly available VMware based solution allows MSPs to successfully put nearly any solution onto SAP, according to Carter.
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