Google and SAP have partnered on a number of different projects over the years and Google Cloud, like its competitors, is a strategic cloud partner for RISE along with SAP, the German enterprise software company’s program for helping its customers migrate to the cloud. Today, the two companies announced a fairly substantial expansion of their partnership that introduces deep integration between SAP S/4HANA Cloud, SAP’s flagship enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, and Google Workspace. This new native integration will allow SAP users to access and work with S/4HANA data collaboratively in Google Docs and Sheets, while importing and exporting this data seamlessly between the two systems.
Philipp Herzig, Senior Vice President and Head of Intelligent Enterprise and Cross-Architecture at SAP, told me that SAP customers are asking for these features, especially as Google continues to attract more and more large corporate customers. S/4HANA obviously contains a lot of valuable data and documents, so users were already exporting this data and working with it in other word processing and spreadsheet applications. But what is perhaps most important here is that it is a two-way integration that not only involves the extraction of data, but also their synchronization in the ERP system as a new version so that the ERP system still functions as the system of record.
“Two-way integration is actually what many customers are asking for because, of course, you can already pull the data today into any spreadsheet. But then, it’s just a document that resides on a hard drive or Google Drive or wherever, right? This is fine for a small business, but large companies around the world need more structure for these documents. That’s why the combination is so essential,” Herzig said.
He also noted that this is part of SAP’s work on improving its integration posture with third-party applications in general and that the company has built a standardized way to do this. Indeed, SAP uses its Enterprise Technology Platform — the company’s own integration service — in the middle between S/4HANA and Google Workspace to power the connection between the two companies.
On Google’s side, Workspace vice president and general manager Javier Soltero, who joined the company from Microsoft in 2019, noted that this integration also underscores that Workspace is enterprise-ready. “For me, as someone who’s been running this business for nearly three years, to see the support and belief from SAP and working with us on this, and the market reaction and requests we’re getting for this, is proof of Workspace’s business viability, a subject that for the longest time, even before coming here, was something harder to see,” he said.
Soltero also noted that Google has always tried to provide a surface for developers to build on the Workspace/G Suite ecosystem. “To see someone like SAP taking advantage of this is really a big step for us and certainly proof that we want to keep going through this ordeal,” he explained.
With SAP already supporting S/4HANA on Google Cloud’s infrastructure, it’s probably no surprise that the two companies also started thinking about how they could build additional integrations that went beyond the use of core Google Cloud infrastructure services and this is also perhaps a good example of why Google keeps both its cloud infrastructure services and Workspace under the same corporate umbrella.
“What this particular partnership means to a company like Workspace is more than this technical aspect of ‘hey, can you share data between a big, big ERP system like S/4HANA and a product like Google Workspace’,” he said. -he declares. “In the eyes of our existing and potential customers, this represents an opportunity to truly achieve something greater than the sum of its parts and what I mean by that is that by giving an SAP user the ability to access this data through a surface like Google Docs or Google Sheets, you marry an inherently collaborative and user-friendly hybrid surface with this all-important business data set. And the resulting usage patterns, for us in particular, are bound to be very different and exciting, in part because of what it means when you have a real-time collaborative surface that’s in constant sync with data from large-scale enterprise.
While the two companies are currently piloting the integration with a number of customers, the initial set of features will be released as standard functionality for S/4HANA Cloud later this year.