In Florida, where I live, we know a thing or two about clouds. We see them in the horizon or on the radar and we reset lawn sprinklers from auto to manual. We think of sedating our beagle, who becomes a baby when he hears thunderclaps.
Not every cloud brings rain, though. Last February, Chicago had “thundersnow”. Last week, Birmingham, AL had spectacular “tsunami” clouds . From my conversations with the National Hurricane Center I profiled in my last book, I learned we still have much to understand about weather systems in spite of the mountains of satellite and sensory atmospheric data we have access to.
What to make about the SAP cloud? It plonked big money to buy SuccessFactors a couple of weeks ago. Last week, at the Influencer Summit, it declared it was “all in” the cloud. SAP has announced better integration of BYD, its cloud product, with Google Apps.
It’s quite a transformation in just a few months. At Sapphire in Orlando, I asked Bill McDermott, co-CEO, about the continuing SAP commitment to Microsoft Office and other products, and he said in many of his customers, SAP and Microsoft are the two “strategic IT vendors”. At the event, SAP was still tentative about BYD. John Wookey, a prominent executive in its cloud strategy, had unexpectedly left just prior to Sapphire.
We are seeing a much more cloud-confident SAP. But is it just an aberration? The proof will come in what the field and the partner ecosystem do in the next couple of years.
I want to see SAP annoy Wall Street by showing a substantial increase in capex in its data centers and networks. Yes, like Microsoft and Amazon and Google have in the past. In the field I want to see if SAP is willing to cannibalize older products and maintenance revenue. I want to see the partner flavor evolve. Today, it is still full of old school outsourcers more comfortable with renaming their hosting services as “private clouds” and with single-tenant application management models. It would be nice to see Google resellers, Android and Apple entrepreneurs become prominent in the SAP ecosystem.
I am afraid it is the “Kelvin-Helmholtz effect” we saw in Birmingham. It is the turbulence which forms “when a fast-moving layer of fluid slides on top of a slower, thicker layer, dragging its surface”. Slow and Drag are key words when thinking about SAP’s legacy and current partners.
For now, let’s just enjoy the phenomenon and say “Wow!”
(Read this and other articles @ Deal Architect)