SAP on Azure Gives Customers Access to AI-enabled Services

K. Raman, Microsoft Malaysia’s Managing Director believes that in partnership with SAP, Microsoft is working to make its customers better, where by adopting SAP on Azure, customers can use AI-enabled cloud services, technology, and data to make more informed decisions.

“Microsoft’s relationship with SAP goes way back; we’ve had this relationship for more than 25 years. There’s a huge commitment on both sides. Microsoft today runs our entire global business based on SAP; SAP runs their entire business on the Azure platform. We’ve taken it further; the Azure platform today is optimised around SAP HANA, so customers get the best of the cloud platform and the best ERP application provided by SAP.”

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Raman said this during a ‘fireside chat’ Q&A session at the recent Asian Innovators Summit organised by SAP in Kuala Lumpur.


Raman, who has been MD of Microsoft Malaysia since 2015, notes that Microsoft has been undergoing a transformation, moving away from just being a productivity company into truly being a global cloud company in the world today.

“Today, Microsoft sees this world as being built on an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge platform. There’s still a need for compute and compute power at the very edge, but then you can have all the transactions systems in the intelligent cloud platform. In Microsoft, we are embedding AI into our products and services, but most importantly, it’s about the people – everything is people-centric.

“We’ve democratised the compute power; from having PCs on every desktop and every home, to the way we democratise cloud computing and also AI. So every organisation, whether you’re the largest in the world, or a new startup, or an SME, we are making a cloud platform available for everyone. As you know, computing is everywhere, so you need to access and be able to process these data to be able to make meaningful business decisions.”

According to Raman, Microsoft differentiates its cloud platform based on the principles of what it calls the ‘trusted cloud’.

“First and foremost, Microsoft is a platform company. So we are not in the business of being a bank; we’re not in the business of being a retailer or an e-hailing company or a hailing service company. We are today building the best platform so that our customers can be the best bank, or the best retailer, and to do that, we are investing USD15 billion annually on building the largest cloud infrastructure. We have today what we call 54 regions of where our data centres are; over 100 data centres globally and millions of servers, making us the largest cloud platform in the world.”

The trusted cloud is all about building the cloud based on security, privacy and control, compliance, and transparency. Raman notes that Microsoft invests about USD1 billion annually to secure its data centres so customer data are safe.

“Microsoft is the first cloud company to comply with the GDPR (Global Data Protection Regulation) imposed by the EU. In terms of compliance, we comply with 91 industry standards. Last but not least, it’s all about transparency. We will share with you audit reports about who has access to your data.”

Raman believes that Microsoft’s partnership with SAP, especially with regards to the cloud, AI, and IoT is an exciting, innovation-driven one.

“SAP on Azure is not something new; many large companies are already reaping the benefits of SAP on Azure. Closer to home, Malaysian Airlines has adopted SAP on Azure 3 years ago, and reaping the benefits of costs reduction, but more importantly, improving the agility of the company in dealing with the amount of data that it has to make more informed decisions with.”

When asked about organisational challenges along the ‘going to the cloud’ journey, Raman noted three major concerns. “One of the biggest challenges is this huge amount of data. Data is flowing every day, so how do I manage, and more importantly, how do I make the best use of data? Two is obviously the lack of skillsets, and as new technologies of AI, big data and machine learning is coming out, most organisations are struggling to have the right skillsets. It’s more than just the skillsets; it’s about having the right culture of driving innovation and driving transformation.

And lastly, its’s about the cloud journey. For most organisations, it’s something new; how can organisations like SAP and Microsoft help them to move securely to the cloud, because previously there was all this fear about keeping data in the cloud means that my data will be exposed, and the data security is being compromised. I think today, organisations are starting to believe and know that having data in the hyperscale cloud with the kind of investment Microsoft is doing in terms of security, it’s even more secure to keep data in the cloud.”

In order to assist its customers on this digital transformation journey, Microsoft looks at 4 different areas. “One is how you can best engage with your customers, to give them the best customer experience.

“Second is about your employees; empowering your employees so that they have the right information at the right time to serve your customers.

“Third is about optimising your operations, and leveraging the cloud infrastructure with IoT is one means of helping manufacturing customers to help them optimise their operations.

“And last is about transforming your products and services.

“A lot of our best-in-class experiences with our customers as they embark on this digital transformation journey; they now have a lot more data with them, and with the added customer insights that they have, they can look at transforming their products and services to provide a better customer experience.”

Microsoft’s partnership with SAP brings a lot of value to customers.

“85% of the Global 500 companies today are both SAP customers and Microsoft customers, and they’ve gone through a journey with us in adopting SAP on Azure and taking the best advantage of the cloud computing platform.”

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