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SAP and Microsoft Launch Yet Another Alliance

May 17, 2016

SAP and Microsoft have a new alliance that will let the biggest SAP's HANA databases run on the Microsoft Azure cloud as well as link Office 365 with SAP's business software.

The tech giants boasts that, starting in the third quarter, A zure will be able to run even the largest HANA databases, which should suit SAP's biggest customers, according to John Torrey, chief strategy officer for the SAP (sap) Business Network Group. The news comes out of Sapphire, SAP's annual conference in Orlando this week.

SAP's business software is used by many Fortune 500 companies to run their all-important accounting and inventory systems. For a long time, that software ran mostly on Oracle (orcl) databases. But over the past four years, SAP has been pushing its own HANA database as an alternative to Oracle as the latter started competing more with SAP on software applications.

While HANA will start running very large workloads on Azure soon, it already runs on Amazon Web Services—as Amazon (amzn) helpfully pointed out in a statement claiming big customer momentum on Tuesday.

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Richard Cammish, group chief information officer for Coats—a joint SAP and Microsoft customer—said he is thrilled that two of his biggest tech suppliers are fostering deeper integration. Coats, a large industrial thread and textile maker based in the United Kingdom, has worked with both companies for decades and had already decided to move to HANA and Azure cloud in a bid to modernize infrastructure.

For more, read: Apple and SAP Team Up

Coats' customers are often retailers who want to carry as little inventory as possible and be able to order what they need when they need it. That demand for faster delivery pressures Coats's manufacturing capabilities. The combination of a more modern database running in the Azure public cloud means faster cycle times and simpler infrastructure, and, ideally, better customer service, Cammish told Fortune.

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In addition, SAP and Microsoft (msft) noted that SAP's business applications—Concur, SuccessFactors, Ariba, and Fieldglass—will integrate with Microsoft's popular Office 365 applications. That means if you enter an appointment in Los Angeles on your calendar next month, Concur will pop up so you can book your travel. Ditto if you schedule an interview with a prospective employee, SuccessFactors, SAP's human resources software should be right there to help.

If you've been around this sector awhile, this all may sound familiar. In the pre-cloud era, SAP and Microsoft had a similar integration deal between Microsoft Office and SAP applications called Mendocino, later renamed Duet, didn't exactly hit the cover off the ball.

Maybe things will turn out differently this time.

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