SAP mulling future of hosting business

The company is considering either selling, partnering, or integrating the hosting unit's services staff back into the parent corporation

As it prepares to launch its long-awaited Business ByDesign on-demand ERP product, SAP is mulling over the future of its hosting division. Options under consideration include a sale, partnership, or a move to integrate the unit's services staff back into the parent corporation.

The company's main competencies lie in software services and support, not datacenter management, SAP spokesman Christoph Liedtke said Tuesday.

Liedtke stressed that SAP has not yet made any decision regarding the hosting business.

Meanwhile, SAP is getting ready to launch Business ByDesign on a broader basis.

The company previously scaled back rollout plans for the service, choosing instead to initially focus on six markets -- China, France, Germany, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States -- while it ensures it can turn enough of a profit on the offering.

The company has said it will initially host Business ByDesign on its own and bring in partners later. Nothing has changed in that regard, Liedtke said.

SAP has named a number of initial pilot customers for the software. "You'll start to see customers coming live on it in greater numbers next year... in the first trimester time frame," said SAP executive board member Bill McDermott in an interview Tuesday.

SAP is also moving to build out the Business ByDesign ecosystem. It recently announced a series of partner-provided enhancements to Business ByDesign, centering on payroll, payment reference data, business-to-business collaboration, and sales and use tax processing.