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Little did I know I had a long road ahead of me.” | Stories of the COVID  Crisis

We all know that the future is in the cloud, but getting there requires a mindset shift, and the route is not always easy or straightforward. An enterprise cloud platform offers an essential foundation and a low-friction path to the cloud with fast time to value but choosing a platform that best suits your organization’s needs can be a process unto itself.

Enter the free tier model—also known as freemium -- a must-have feature for enterprise cloud platform vendors and their customers. In a recent Linkedin Live conversation, I had the opportunity to speak with Tammy Powlas, SAP Mentor and Senior Business Analyst, Fairfax Water, and Holger Mueller, Vice President and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research, Inc., about the immeasurable value of the free tier model for enterprises. What follows is a brief recap and highlights from our conversation.

As Holger reminded us, the freemium model has been around for over twenty years, but the landscape has changed dramatically since the days when we received a CD from AOL every week, or grabbed a free CD at a vendor conference. Today’s try to buy offers must run in complex, powerful environments, and they must be managed through the cloud. For vendors, this means thinking carefully about how to size the free tier—make it too big and risk losing money but make it too small or time-limited and risk disappointing customers who are not able to fully engage with the platform.

Free tools are essential for developers, who want the freedom to tinker and experiment, and as Holger says, to “get their hands dirty.” Application developers tend to be leery of marketing; they have a lot of big ideas, but they don’t want to get into a big contractual relationship without trying things out first.

An open-ended freemium model such as SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP) Free Tier, which has no time limit, gives developers the opportunity to work on low-stress, no-cost proof of concepts or small pilot projects, using real data, without any of the typical red tape. Getting buy-in from management is a much simpler prospect when a successful proof of concept has already been completed, at no cost to the company. Ready to move to production? There’s no code to migrate, and it’s a simple click of a button to shift to a paid service, whether it’s a subscription- or consumption-based model.

What Are “Freemium” Apps, and How Do They Work?

The free tier model is not only a boon for professional developers. With new low- and no-code environments, like SAP Process Automation, and SAP AppGyver (coming soon), citizen developers or tech-savvy business users can also experiment in a free tier environment to create custom enterprise applications and determine their own automation destinies. Far from replacing full-code software developers, these low- and no-code environments work to augment unique development skills and help organizations fill the gaps created by a worldwide developer shortage.

For business users and professional developers alike, free tier models are an excellent opportunity for learning. Tammy pointed to the free courses available through and the free ‘missions’ at the SAP Discovery Center as essential tools to help customers implement their business use cases using the free tier model while also facilitating their long-term cloud transition. Customers can bring a business scenario to the Discovery Center, see how many other companies have worked on this particular use case, get great ideas on where to begin, and connect with others who have implemented similar use cases.

Holger agreed that the Discovery Center is an incredible vehicle for learning how to mobilize a specific process. We see many SAP customers do exactly that—move from a Discovery Center mission through free tier implementation, which carries right into a paid service—a frictionless process that removes all of the risk and guesswork.  One area where free tier options are essential is “the fabled insight to action”, per Holger. Users can take, for example, developed and tested machine learning capabilities to management with a clear imperative: this solution automates processes and provides the insight to action that makes transaction users happy.

It takes a number of cloud components, all available in free tier, to arrive at that “holy grail” of insight to action—analytics, data management, integration. BTP Free Tier gives customers the opportunity to explore and test the more process-based integration of the cloud in a meaningful way, using real data. And Tammy mentioned the increasing importance of data governance and security and achieving clean data before moving to the cloud, all of which can begin in the free tier.

Innovation is about finding new ways to look at challenges and opportunities; free tier is a must have for the innovation era. With SAP Business Technology Platform’s free tier model, customers can build, explore, and innovate with confidence, ensuring a seamless transition to the cloud.

Intrigued? Tune in to the recording of our Linkedin Live conversation with Holger Mueller and Tammy Powlas to hear more cloud platform and free tier insights, or go to to learn more about the platform’s free tier options and sign up today.

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