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The cloud, big data and mobile are probably the three biggest trends in enterprise computing these days. So it’s not too surprising that two of the biggest enterprise computing powerhouses have announced that they are collaborating on exactly those fronts.

Microsoft and SAP have always been able to get along, having partnered on various ventures pretty consistently over the two decades. In their latest joint announcement the companies have said that they are expanding their partnership around cloud computing and big data interoperability, and mobile productivity solutions.

The new work takes place in three areas:

  • on the enterprise cloud front, business-critical SAP applications certification for Microsoft Azure;
  • improved interoperability between big data from SAP applications and Microsoft Office, including general availability of connectivity between SAP BusinessObjects BI solutions and Microsoft’s Power BI offering;
  • mobile productivity with expanded development and support for Windows and Windows Phone 8.1.

The companies say that by the end of the second quarter of 2014, they will jointly support SAP’s Business Suite software, Business All-In-One solutions, Mobile Platform, Adaptive Server Enterprise (SAP ASE) and the developer edition of the SAP HANA platform on Azure. Customers and developers will now be able to deploy and provision preconfigured SAP solutions “within minutes” directly to Azure using the SAP Cloud Appliance Library tool.

To address infrastructure costs and TCO, new and existing SAP customers will be offered Azure’s pay-per-use model. They will be able to access Azure’s compute resources to support SAP solutions, which the companies say will enable them to scale capacity rapidly as computing requirements change, paying only for the resources used.

As the data access and interoperability part of the expanded partnership, Excel connectivity to SAP BusinessObjects BI solutions through Microsoft’s Power BI offering is now being made generally available. Microsoft and SAP also plan to develop the interoperability between applications and platforms with a new version of the SAP Gateway for Microsoft, which is expected to help customers automate business processes and access SAP applications and data through Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Azure. Customers can start now with the current SAP Gateway for Microsoft, and upgrade to the new version when it becomes available in the second half of 2014.

In its report on the announcement, TechCrunch noted that the partnership “comes at a time when SAP’s cloud and mobile strategy appears to be in some disarray” following the departure of Vishal Sikka, executive board member for products and innovation, on May 4. “Meanwhile,” TechCrunch says, “Microsoft is trying to shift gears and become more of a platform and services company under new CEO Satya Nadella, even as their Windows phone platform continues to struggle in a market dominated by Android and iOS. Certainly, at least parts of this SAP deal help advance that agenda.”

The partnership also involves the development and co-marketing of new SAP mobile applications for Windows and Windows Phone 8.1. The applications will be managed and secured by the SAP Mobile Secure portfolio or Windows Intune.

In the TechCrunch report, Kevin Ichhpurani, SAP’s senior vice president and head of business development and strategic ecosystem, noted that there are already SAP applications running on Windows Phone, but that SAP will also be releasing a new mobile SDK so their customers can develop custom mobile apps based on SAP tools for Windows phones.

When reminded that Windows has a mere three per cent of the mobile market, Ichhpurani said SAP “was confident the platform will turn around and that regardless it was a good approach for his company’s customers who often use both Microsoft and SAP products.”

Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) and SAP (Nasdaq: SAP) say they will show off some of the offerings resulting from the new collaboration at Sapphire Now, which will be held June 3-5, in Orlando, Florida.

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