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Product and Topic Expert
Product and Topic Expert

In this blog series you will find quotes, backgrounds, suggested further readings and other information related to my latest book SAP HANA 2.0, An Introduction published by SAP Press.

As the goal of the book is to provide an introduction, we could not spend as much time and pages on each and every topic as we wished at times. The SAP Cloud Platform and Cloud Foundry are one of these  topics although we do address the technology in the book, it is mostly related to native application development and XS Advanced. In this 2-part blog series, I will cover the SAP Cloud Platform and Cloud Foundry story in a bit more detail and include references where to find more information.

  • Part I - About Cloud Foundry and platform-as-a-service in the early days where we will explain the concepts and origins.

  • Part II - SAP and Cloud Foundry developments.

  • Part III - SAP, Cloud Foundry and Kubernetes.

Any good? Post a comment, share on social media, and/or give a like. Thanks!

Early Developments

In the previous blog, we covered Heroku, Ruby on Rails, and the origins of the platform service, open-source champion SpringSource shopping for Cloud Foundry, Groovy and Grails, RabbitMQ, and other gems, and the way of the Panda, or the sometimes surprising enthusiasm for open-source with big software vendors. We paused around 2012 when Cloud Foundry celebrated its first birthday and was launched.

In a previous blog about SAP Analytics Cloud, we already pointed out that with the acquisition of Business Objects in 2008, apart from a state-of-the-art business intelligence suite, SAP also acquired

The name would be used for home-brew SaaS LOB developments like Sales OnDemand. Soon SAP would start to acquire LOB SaaS solutions. Curiously enough, today is still the home of the SAP Cloud platform (we get to the HANA part in a bit).


In 2011, SuccessFactors and VMware announced a new project using PaaS for SaaS extensions.

All the key ingredients are listed:

This new project takes the Cloud Foundry vision one step further, enabling customers to extend and build custom applications around SuccessFactors to address specific business and vertical use cases, without restricting the choice of development frameworks, data or application services. Cloud Foundry helps ensure customers can build applications using open and industry-standard development technologies while preserving the flexibility to deploy across both public and private clouds. 

If not already, the acquisition of SuccessFactors certainly brought CloudFoundry on the agenda of SAP's CTO.

NetWeaver Cloud (Neo)

In 2012, SAP entered the PaaS market with SAP NetWeaver Cloud. NW Cloud supported Java and Spring frameworks and provided Portal and Document Services.

SAP NetWeaver Cloud is an open, standards-based and modular Platform as a Service for rapid development of on-demand applications.

The code name Neo, short for NetWeaver On-Demand, would later return in the official documentation to reference the SAP-hosted environment on the SAP Cloud Platform and distinguish it from the Cloud Foundry environment hosted by other cloud providers.

NetWeaver Cloud ran on open-source Xen (at the time) and used the same SAP infrastructure as Business ByDesign, a SaaS application launched in 2007.

The Linux of the Cloud


Although SAP had started to contribute to the open-source community a little before, with its cloud platform, this greatly expanded. The rise of cloud computing, the upcoming SaaS alternatives for business solutions, the sudden and dramatic demise of BlackBerry in mind, as observed at the time, SAP was at the crossroads.

For SAP, this requires the audacity to strive towards an enterprise version of Apple, with a thriving developer community built around its mobile, in-memory, and on-demand solutions. (...) For the first time ever, SAP can’t build everything it needs internally and hope to win. It’s ecosystem or bust.

We already mentioned SAP's open-source focussed Big Data strategy.

To this we can add a unified developer license covering all major platforms and technologies, OpenUI5, a JavaScript UI Framework, a SAP HANA connector (service broker) for Cloud Foundry and for Node.js (on its way to the top of the most popular web development frameworks), plus a new rapid development environment (RDE), named River, which would evolve into the SAP Web IDE

Time to Pivot

In 2013, VMware and mother company EMC decided to create a spin-off from their recent acquisitions including SpringSource and Cloud Foundry, and called it Pivotal, a company at the intersection of big data, PaaS and agile development that would bring “consumer grade” technology to the enterprise (sounds familiar?). Not without expectations: The Economist: Will Pivotal Be Bigger Than Google, Apple for the Enterprise?

The next year, VMware also started the Cloud Foundry Foundation, an open-source governance framework for which besides Pivotal, VMware, and EMC, also IBM, HP, and SAP signed up (to name but a few).

For a contemporary view, watch the Cloud Foundry Summit 2014 keynote SAP - Future of Enterprise PaaS by Steve Winkler and dirk.basenach.

Microsoft and Google joined the foundation a little later while SUSE took over HPE's stake. Cloud Foundry still powers IBM Cloud today.

See Cloud Foundry Members for the full list.

Looking ahead, in 2019, VMware bought Pivotal back and Cloud Foundry is now part of VMware's Tanzu portfolio.


One of the open source contributions from 2013 was the CF SAP HANA Broker, making the SAP HANA database available as Cloud Foundry data service.

Not open source and considerable more effort was the implementation of Cloud Foundry as native development environment for the on-premise SAP HANA platform. It shared the same core concepts like buildpacks, service brokers like UAA (user authentication and authorisation), and its cf CLI (disguised as xs) but persistence was restricted to the local SAP HANA database.

Cloud Foundry for HANA was released in 2015 with SAP HANA SPS 11 as XS Advanced, initially as developer preview, side-by-side with the original architecture for building native applications SAP HANA XS, now tagged as the classic model. To deploy development artefacts to runtime objects, the HANA Deployment Infrastructure (HDI) was added (related although technically not dependent). Java and Node.js buildpacks were included and a new XS Advanced Programming model.

Cloud Foundry on the SAP Cloud Platform

With the on-premise SAP HANA platform and SAP HANA Cloud Platform (HCP) using the same Cloud Foundry technology, you could start development of native SAP HANA applications on-premise and deploy your application to the cloud. This required another step, of course, for Cloud Foundry to be available on the cloud platform. A beta was released in 2016.

GA would follow one year later. By this time, the SAP Cloud Platform (SCP) had dropped HANA from its name.

Multi-cloud and two environments, this required some explanation.

PaaS is Dead

SAP was at crossroads when it got involved with open-source and launched its cloud platform. But did it take the right turn?

As early as 2016 the first obituaries started to arrive and eventually even Cloud Foundry CEO Abby Kearn was quoted with

PaaS, as a name, as a concept and as a solution is dead

Particularly vendors active in the DevOps, Docker, and Kubernetes space tried to use it to their advantage

We already mentioned how companies like AWS, Google, and Microsoft  successfully managed to morph PaaS into their overall service portfolio. There were security and high-availability concerns with PaaS but the biggest threat around this time came from the move to containerisation with Docker and Kubernetes. This topic we will cover in the next blog.

SAP HANA 2.0 - An Introduction

Just getting started with SAP HANA? Or do have a migration to SAP HANA 2.0 coming up? Need a quick update covering business benefits and technology overview. Understand the role of the system administrator, developer, data integrator, security officer, data scientist, data modeler, project manager, and other SAP HANA stakeholders? My latest book about SAP HANA 2.0 covers everything you need to know.

Get it from SAP Press or Amazon:

For the others posts, see

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