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DiData brings SAP’s cloud to Africa

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Kathy Gibson reports from the SAP HEC launch in Johannesburg – SAP has launched its Hana Enterprise Cloud (HEC) in Africa, delivering a secure private cloud to its customers through a partnership with Dimension Data.
Paulo Masselli, CEO of Dimensions Data’s application service company Britehouse, points out that the company has a long and close relationship with SAP, and is piloting the service in South Africa before rolling it out to NTT locations globally.
“South Africa has all the elements in place to make this service successful,” Masselli says. “We have our own local data centre which addresses the issue of latency and allows customers to ramp up very quickly.”
Britehouse already has a pipeline of about 30 local companies that are interested in becoming HEC customers. “We said we would build it, and they would come,” Masselli says. “And I think we are going to be oversubscribed very quickly.”
He adds that Britehouse has put a wealth of methodologies in place to help companies migrate easily; and has also invested heavily in ensuring that operations will run smoothly.
“The benefits of the solution are well known. It’s about agility and flexibility, and getting customer up and running quickly, with a  short time to value and ongoing consumption costs,” Masselli says.
“Importantly, this is the only HEC platform in Africa, and we are very proud to be part of it.”
The next step in the partnership will see Dimension Data roll out the service into other international markets covered by Dimension Data and NTT as a whole. It is also looking to the possibility of opening another HEC instance in its East Africa data centre, and is currently evaluating this option,
“The exciting part of the journey starts today,” Masselli says. “We have built the environment and are ready for business immediately.”
Guy Armstrong, vice-president: sales of the HEC business at SAP, says there are many advantages to working with local partners.
The benefits include connectivity and lower latency. “Data sovereignty is a topic on everyone’s mind and partners are key to this. In terms of data security, our partners will work to the levels SAP works to itself.”
Innovation is also easier when customers work with local partners, Armstrong adds.
“We are super excited to be parting with Dimension Data, and we are looking to leverage all these benefits.”
Brett Parker, MD of SAP Africa, explains that HEC builds on the Hana Cloud Platform, which allows companies to integrate a company’s business applications and processes in one place, allowing them to be delivered on-premise, in the private, hybrid or pubic clouds.
“HEC gives customers choice, and lets them go on their cloud journey very easily, and show business value,” he says.
Armstrong describes HEC as a solution that lets SAP manage customer’s SAP environment for them.
“Complexity and cost consumes about 80% of the IT budget, leaving very little for innovation,” he says. “A simplified world on the Han platform offers simplified applications and processes, in a way that doesn’t consume the whole investment and thus allows companies to innovate.”
“With HEC, we have the expertise and the skills and we can allow companies to scale for agility and flexibility We can help to derisk the business; it’s about data security; and it’s about data sovereignty.
“It’s all about recuing cost, freeing up funds, reducing risk, being agile and flexible; to be innovative and remain competitive.”
HEC has been available in the global market since 2013. During this time, SAP increased its customer footprint 12-fold, with transactions increasing 20-fold. In fact, HEC quickly became the second-biggest cloud service in SAP, from a standing start, two years ago.
“If you look at the trajectory we are on, we will be the largest cloud business in SAP by the end of this year,” Armstrong adds.
Globally, there are more than 450 HEC customers, with 1 300 Hana instances being run. This relates to a 133% growth year on year. There were 183 net new customers in 2015, and existing customers re-invested in the service as well.
In the EMEA region, HEC has seen triple-digit growth, scaled the provision of HEC to all 12 of SAP’s strategic industries, signed over 50 net new customers in 2015 – in fact, an EMEA customers was one of the largest HEC deals ever with SAP.
“Our strategic priorities in 2016 are to continue to invest in people,” Armstrong says. “We’ve increased our HEC capabilities by 81%, and in the southern cluster have doubled the size of our resources. In South Africa we’ve doubled our resources again because we see this region as strategic for growth.”
SAP aims to deliver a premium service, either itself or via trusted partners. “We have an ambition to double the size of our customers references this year,” He adds. “And we will aggressively scale our partner model.”