SAP buys startup Plat.One, part of $2B IoT investment

SAP's $2 billion, five-year plan is to to extend its reach into the internet of things

sap sapphire s/hana

SAP's S/4Hana was on display at its Sapphire Now conference in 2015.

Credit: SAP

SAP has bought IoT software developer Plat.One, marking the start of a plan to invest $2 billion in the internet of things over the next five years.

Some of those billions will be spent on the creation of IoT development labs around the world, SAP said Wednesday. It already has plans for such labs in Berlin, Johannesburg, Munich, Palo Alto, Shanghai and São Leopoldo in Brazil. 

The company is also rolling out a series of "jump-start" and "accelerator" IoT software packages for particular industries, to help them monitor and control equipment.

Another compoent of SAP's IoT plan is to acquire new businesses, the latest of which is Plat.One. This company makes a platform that helps smart devices talk to one another and with a central database, translating between the different protocols they use to communicate. Plat.One says it manages 200,000 devices for 25 enterprise customers, including three telecommunications companies: BT, T-Systems and Telecom Italia.

Back in June SAP bought Fedem Technology, a Norwegian company specializing in the modeling of structures under load. By mapping sensor data from real structures onto these models, SAP intends to create digital avatars of buildings and industrial machines that can be inspected for wear or damage virtually, without the need for a site visit.  

SAP is not alone in having designs on the industrial IoT market. Hewlett Packard Enterprise teamed up with GE to sell that company's Predix IoT platform back in June, with GE naming HPE its preferred storage and infrastructure provider in return. The following month it was Microsoft's turn, as it struck a deal to put GE's Predix on the Azure cloud platform.

SAP's plan for Plat.One is to link it with its HANA Cloud Platform, built around the company's HANA in-memory database. One of the strengths Plat.One claims for its software is that it works well on the network edge, particularly in environments where connectivity to cloud platforms is intermittent. That could be useful for tracking machinery in industrial or mining environments with patchy network coverage.

Plat.One is headquartered in Palo Alto, California, but it was founded near Genoa in Italy, where its research team is still based.

Before joining Plat.One last October, CEO John Bates literally wrote the book about applying business analytics tools to the internet of things. His "Thingalytics" was published in March 2015, when he was a CTO at German enterprise software vendor Software AG. He ended up there in 2013 when Software AG acquired the complex-event processing company he founded, Apama, from then owner Progress Software.

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