Germany’s SAP’s Israeli R&D center gets boost from cloud venture with Alibaba

Software firm’s branch in Raanana says it’s recruited dozens of new employees for a collaboration with China’s e-commerce giant

Shoshanna Solomon was The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

SAP's new building in Ra'anana, Israel (Courtesy: Uzi Porat)
SAP's new building in Ra'anana, Israel (Courtesy: Uzi Porat)

The Israeli R&D center of SAP SE, a German software firm, has recruited “dozens” of new employees to work on the new collaboration between SAP and China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

SAP said on Wednesday it is teaming up with China’s Alibaba to offer SAP’s products on the cloud infrastructure of the Chinese e-commerce giant, to help customers transition their operations to the cloud and build more intelligent businesses.

SAP’s R&D team in Israel will lead the setting up of the SAP cloud infrastructure in China for its customers, in close cooperation with Alibaba Cloud, SAP’s R&D center in Israel said in an emailed statement. The R&D center has recently recruited “dozens” of employees for the project, CEO of the center in Israel, Orna Kleinman, in the statement.

Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang and SAP CEO Bill McDermott outlined the expanded relationship on Wednesday at the Computing Conference 2018 of Alibaba in Hangzhou, China.

Orna Kleinman, CEO of SAP’s R&D center in Israel (Courtesy)

“The project in China is an example of how SAP’s Israeli R&D center is leading strategic projects in the company’s core business, ” Kleinman said.

SAP and Alibaba first joined forces two years ago to supply enterprise cloud solutions in China through Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing arm of Alibaba Group, to help customers adapt to fast-changing market demands, the two companies said in a separate statement.

Beginning Wednesday, the two companies will collaborate, co-innovate and jointly go to market to offer SAP S/4HANA Cloud, a digital cloud product. Alibaba Cloud’s customers will also be able to use the SAP Cloud Platform to extend their current business solutions, build new applications and integrate third-party technologies, the statement said.

“China has been SAP’s second home for more than two decades,” said SAP’s McDermott in the statement. “Alibaba and SAP’s growing partnership expands our ability to empower digital China by building intelligent enterprises.” He added that SAP is preparing for “substantial expansion” in China going forward.

Established in 2009, Alibaba Cloud is China’s largest provider of public cloud services and according to Gartner Inc., the company is also among the world’s top three providers of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

Alibaba and SAP will explore additional collaboration in areas around artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, new retail and new manufacturing, all of which are new initiatives by Alibaba Group, the statement said.

The German multinational software firm in 2017 moved into its new NIS 240 million ($67 million) Israeli headquarters in the northern part of the industrial area of Raanana, Israel. SAP Labs, as the R&D center is called, is one of four the software firm has around the world.

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