Picking up where we left off yesterday with SAP’s VP of Cloud Strategy Sven Denecken at the SAP UK and Ireland User Group conference, I was curious to know if Denecken regards Salesforce.com as having ‘blinked first’ in the public v private v hybrid cloud debate following the surprise Superpod announcement at Dreamforce.
Denecken can see the rationale for the Salesforce.com decision to offer single instance offerings to major enterprise customers:
“I think there is a lot of push from big clients to be treated differently. Something that I see in our discussions is how you can still preserve the positives of a cloud portfolio, like agility and fast releases in innovation, though have a private addition.
“There are clients who want that. I don’t think cloud computing has made the life easier for companies and for IT because landscapes are heterogenous, they get more heterogenous. The question is what can you do to help them integrate in a hybrid environment?
“Companies want to have more areas under their control – they might care less if it is in their data centre or my data centre. Or more managed by a vendor, or less managed by a vendor. They want that flexibility.”
An acceptance of the need to protect existing investment is pragmatic, he adds:
“I just don’t buy that all the benefits are in the cloud. This rip and replace won’t work for too long. I think the world, for a very long time, will be hybrid.
“Certain areas will move to the cloud faster, but why do they move? Not because they believe in the hype of cloud but because they see the business value and benefits.”
There’s too much technology talk going on, argues Denecken:
“The reality is not simple, but let’s talk business process. Let’s not talk technology for technologies’ sake.
“Cloud will be the better business enabler in many areas, but not in isolation. It has to come with what you are doing on-premise. I don’t care if it’s private, or whatever you want to call it.”
At the end of the day, terminologies change, he notes:
“If it’s on premise, we used to call it virtualisation, now we call it private cloud.”
The commitment to cloud was also picked up by co-CEO Jim Hagemann-Snabe in his keynote address which seemed at one point to be geared to reassuring customers that when he steps down, there won’t be a drop off in the firm’s commitment to innovate.
“This idea [innovation] is not going to stop because I stepped down. Leadership is not just about putting a company on track towards success, but it is also about making sure you are no longer needed.
“If I look at Vishal Sikka who is heading up the entire development force, he is wizard. He can see around corners and he is very deep in his understanding of the impact of technology and the architecture.”
Snabe went out of his way to praise his co-CEO Bill McDermott but was clearly conscious that the latter is widely perceived as first and foremost a sales guy. He insisted:
“Bill has played the sales role because I did the innovation role, but Bill is very strong on the vision of the innovation as well. He will be expanding his effort on the innovation side.”
The European half of the co-CEO team also tackled the fact that by this time next year SAP will have a US CEO, an interesting shift for the German firm. It seems McDermott will be clocking up the air miles in his lone CEO role:
“He was a little bit ‘the American’. He will continue to be the American, but he will spend more time in Europe and understand the diversity, opportunities and value we have here.”
Snabe also pointed out that SAP has transformed itself in the past and can do so again:
“If you look at three years back we were largely a company run from the sales side, rather than the engineering side. Ten years back the reverse was the case.”