SAP rolling out cloud-savvy version of Business One

Partners will now be able to sell a multitenant version of the ERP (enterprise resource planning) software for small companies

SAP has created a multitenant version of its Business One ERP (enterprise resource planning) suite, which will be sold exclusively through partners as Business One OnDemand, the company is expected to announce Tuesday during the Cebit conference in Hannover, Germany.

Multitenancy is a software architecture commonly used by SaaS (software as a service) vendors, wherein multiple customers share the same instance of an application, but with their corporate data locked away from each other. This allows for operational cost savings over traditional hosting, and provides the ability to apply general product upgrades to many customers at once.

"It's great to see that SAP realizes that multitenancy is an important part of a cloud solution," said analyst Ray Wang, CEO of Constellation Research. "True multitenancy gives customers the lowest-cost delivery model and the quickest way to consume innovation."

SAP partners have already been selling Business One in hosted form. Last year, SAP instituted a policy change that made it easier for those companies to offer hosted Business One via subscription pricing. SAP is encouraging partners to sell Business One OnDemand by subscription as well, according to a statement.

The engineering work on the multitenant version is complete, and it will become available from partners in the second quarter, according to SAP spokeswoman Angelika Pfahler. It will initially be offered in 18 countries, including the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, Singapore, South Africa, Spain and Switzerland.

Only SAP-certified hosting partners will be able to offer the application directly, although resellers that lack such qualifications can subcontract with a certified company, SAP said.

Business One will continue to be available through traditional hosting and in on-premises form, under perpetual license agreements.

Also Tuesday, SAP announced a version of its Business ByDesign cloud ERP suite, which is aimed at small and mid-sized companies and more recently, divisions of enterprises. SAP announced a version of ByDesign on Tuesday that includes industry-specific functionality for manufacturing, distribution and professional services companies.

SAP partners have now created some 120 "micro-vertical" add-ons for ByDesign, according to a statement.

In addition, the company has started a pilot program centered on a deeper integration between ByDesign and corporate human resources systems.

SAP has also improved the ByDesign experience on iPads and iPhones, adding tools for managing expenses, accounts and sales leads, among others.

Some potential for customer overlap exists between Business ByDesign and Business One OnDemand. But one differentiator lies in the deeper array of industry-specific functions built by partners for the latter application, which has been in the market much longer.

Also Tuesday, SAP announced versions of its Sourcing OnDemand and Sales OnDemand applications. Executives, including co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe, are expected to discuss all of the announcements during news conferences on Tuesday at Cebit.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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