The rise of cloud computing looks like it has lead to the fall of SAP CEO Léo Apotheker, who resigned over the weekend.
It's not that cloud computing has been absent at SAP. There are a number of efforts underway. But it's the lack of any unified strategy that is most notable.
SAP's headquarters are in Germany, and Wang says that may have contributed to the company's scattered approach to cloud computing. Compared to the United States, Europe is more concerned about privacy issues, which leads to questions about the path a company can take: Private cloud? Public cloud? Hybrid? This may reflect somewhat on SAP's hesitancy.
John Wookey, a former Oracle executive, is leading SAP's cloud computing efforts. At the SAP Influencer Summit in Boston last December, Wookey said that SAP would open its Frictionless Commerce platform to developers. In 2014 the company will release its next generation technology, according to Wang. The idea is to leapfrog what we see today in SaaS offerings.
Today, though, customers are speaking out. They were hit last year with higher maintenance fees. They have been pretty vocal about their discontent. For SAP's part, the company is starting to acknowledge it has made mistakes.
What do customers want? Wang said they want to run their operations in a cost efficient manner and augment what they already have with SAP. That means a unified cloud offering, not a scattered approach like what they see now.
In contrast, a company like IBM looks unified in its approach to cloud computing. You can build, host and partner with IBM. Its offerings are diverse yet unified. You know that IBM has a focus on the cloud. That's not so clear as with SAP.
They are ready competitors even if incoming co-CEO Bill McDermott doesn't think so.
Here's what he had to say in an interview last January with John Foley:
"McDermott contends that now more than ever companies need a full-featured, integrated applications platform for running global business operations -- mySAP, for example -- not half-baked applications from unproven SaaS upstarts. He points to SAP's 36 years of experience developing a "stable core" of enterprise software and a service-oriented architecture that makes it easy to add on third-party and custom applications. "It will take another 36 years for software-as-a-service vendors to do the same thing in the cloud," he says."
Thirty-six years? That has to be an exaggeration.
We'll have to see what happens. But without a unified strategy cloud computing, SAP's future does not look as exciting as the emerging SaaS players in the market.