Skip to Content

The diificultyof SAP to succinctly express its cloud strategy has been depicted by influencers, customers and now recently SAP itself.   I’ve also emphasized that SAP’s cloud-related messaging must be improved.

After reading and hearing enough complaints on the subject, I decided I wanted to take a different approach.

I wanted to figure how why it is so hard to effectively communicate this cloud strategy. 

I whipped a few slides together and then created a video of me talking about the slides. It was a one-take wonder – so I’m sorry about all the pauses and “umms” as I’m collecting my thoughts.

A quick summary:

  • Quick chronology of SAP’s cloud efforts
  • The variety of solutions and its impact of cloud marketing
  • The impact of the reduction of complexity
  • The need to cover all layers
  • Satisfying all constituents
  • Organizational factors: The three gangs

Note: My intention here isn’t to criticize SAP’s cloud marketing but rather – by exchanging chairs at the proverbial table –  to better understand how their environment (historical, organizational, etc) influences their efforts.

To report this post you need to login first.

13 Comments

You must be Logged on to comment or reply to a post.

  1. Former Member

    Without agreeing or disagreeing to your points, as they kind of touch very wide scope cross technology and apps (I guess the discussion you are provoking would anyhow create more prominent and comprehensive responses) I would say the following: Putting myself into a developer’s shoes, and like a picture is worth a thousand words I would say a trial version is worth a thousand strategies 🙂

    At least w.r.t SAP NetWeaver Cloud the trial version is easy to get, and comes with unlimited developer license:

    http://scn.sap.com/community/developer-center/cloud-platform

    Kind regards,

    Panayot

    P.S. No clue if SCN has some twitter like bio disclaimers possible, or if I put any when I registered, but just in case: Of course this is my personal opinion and not the one of my company, etc. you know this.

    (0) 
    1. Richard Hirsch Post author

      I agree.

      The next blog in this series will be a challenge but I recalled the quote “

      “Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes”  and thought it might an interesting exercise.

      D.

      (0) 
  2. Former Member

    The fact that you read legal agreements in your spare time is something that I may be able to accept. But now you are even analyzing the history of SAP marketing positioning? Oh man … 😉

    Seriously though, I do agree that it is sort of, well, interesting how frequently we change the words of the marketing messaging, but at the core, I feel like there is consistency, albeit influenced by the 3 “gangs”. Fortunately, we all talk to each other and resolve technical gaps (like XS on SAP NetWeaver Cloud) over time, but the marketing folks are compelled to message according to the current Zeitgeist. If you recall, the term “Edge” was en vogue a year ago, which is why it probably was chosen. This year is more HANA centric, so …

    I guess it really depends on what audience you want to reach. For business-oriented folks, who are really focused on business functionality, I doubt they want to hear a lot about “XS”, “NetWeaver Cloud” or “HANA” – they care about the SaaS functionality. It’s different when you drill down into HANA Cloud and NetWeaver Cloud. As you know, I didn’t pay much attention to the HANA-centric messaging, and instead really looked at what is available where, and the different properties. And of course the question of what characteristics are really critical for each “Gang”. Like, is for a somewhat Java-centric programming model the availability of deep HANA features really that critical? And is XS really that critical for a Java-centric programmer who is used to building UIs in servlets and JSP? And conversely, is Java really that critical for somebody who wants to crank out the last bit of performance out of HANA?

    I do agree that harmonizing the different programming models is important, but there is a natural priotization going on. NetWeaver Cloud has chosen to release without HANA Studio, and as such, not all deep HANA features are available. I guess I am part of the HANA mobsters, so I wasn’t really that happy with it, but I can respect how the NetWeaver “gang” made their decision for all the resasons stated above.

    Beyond programming models, what’s more interesting is of course the infrastructure part. SAP NetWeaver Cloud has a lot of cool stuff for On Premise/Cloud integration. Will HANA ONE customers get the same cool features? And when? Again, it’s a matter of priotization …

    Great post, though. And I didn’t hear a lot of “umms”. If you recorded this without much practice, then hats off.

    (0) 
    1. Richard Hirsch Post author

      LOL

      The fact that you read legal agreements in your spare time is something that I may be able to accept. But now you are even analyzing the history of SAP marketing positioning? Oh man … 😉

      I know. I have to get a life …. 😉

      For business-oriented folks, who are really focused on business functionality, I doubt they want to hear a lot about “XS”, “NetWeaver Cloud” or “HANA” – they care about the SaaS functionality

      That is true but business-oriented folks should hear about all the SaaS apps not just four. This neglect does a disservice to SAP’s innovations and those other teams which have worked so hard. 

      Business-oriented folks may be primarily interested in SaaS but partners, ISVs, developers have different interests and need to have clear messaging to help them decide where do focus their resources. You are correct in saying that the features of XS may not be interesting for your typical Java developer. Yet such distinctions become critical when you must choose between the gangs. As we both know, changing gang allegiance is never easy. Once you have those tattoos and wardrobe / trained hundreds of developers for one technology  – committed yourself -, it is quite difficult to change.

      I didn’t say that the gangs themselves are bad or should be disbanded.  They reflect different market trends and each has their own justification for existence.  I assume that over time that their territorial battles will lessen and a reluctant peace will emerge.

      (0) 
    2. Matthias Steiner

      Hi Michael,

      just wanted to comment on something you wrote:

      I do agree that harmonizing the different programming models is important, but there is a natural prioritization going on. NetWeaver Cloud has chosen to release without HANA Studio, and as such, not all deep HANA features are available. I guess I am part of the HANA mobsters, so I wasn’t really that happy with it, but I can respect how the NetWeaver “gang” made their decision for all the resaons stated above.

      Without wanting to give too much internal info away, I think that statement can be misleading. It’s not that we decided to release NW Cloud w/o HANA Studio, but rather that we launched our support for SAP HANA without it. I’m sure we’ll see a whole lot of things to come in that particular space…

      Cheers,

      Matthias

      (0) 
        1. Former Member

          I don’t know Richard … I’m not sure about your portrayal. I know that scene in West Side Story pretty well, and the idea of being a member of a knife-wielding gang just doesn’t appeal to me. So far, I was amused at the idea of “gangs” with their “gang leaders”, but here you portrait a situation that just really doesn’t exist.

          The reason why I’m perhaps more open about the decision process than what other SAP employees would be comfortable with is to shine some light on what otherwise could be perceived as dark dealings that are fought to the teeth with heavy weaponry. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I’m here to explain that beyond all the marketing words, it’s a rational decision making process based on technological arguments and valid technical directions.

          I had to think for a second about why Matthias had an issue with me saying that “SAP NetWeaver Cloud was not released with HANA Studio”. To me, it simply meant that certain deep native capabilities of SAP HANA would not be available in SAP NetWeaver Cloud, and maybe they don’t need to be, at least not for the first release, because it is a very Java-focused programming model anyway. Matthias took issue with that because he didn’t want to make the readers think that SAP NetWeaver Cloud wouldn’t support HANA at all, just because the HANA Studio is not available. That’s a perfectly valid point, and I agree with him. Certain SQL statements that are executed in SAP NetWeaver Cloud can still be a thousand times faster in HANA than a conventional database, even though the HANA Studio is not available.

          So, he and I had a perfectly rational discussion about positioning and priortization, which is clearly influenced by our “camp”, “school of thought”, “gang” or whatever you want to call this. I, as a member of the HANA gang, will always argue for more logic in HANA to accelerate data-centric applications. Matthias, as a member of the NetWeaver/Java gang, will always argue from the perspective of a Java programmer who wants to use HANA for SQL acceleration. Is that wrong? I don’t think so.

          Over time, we will harmonize our positions and come to rational conclusions of next steps. But that ain’t a West Side Story style gang war!

          As to marketing chosing different words to describe what essentially is the same discussion – well …

          (0) 
          1. Richard Hirsch Post author

            Reflecting on your comment, the comparison with the West Side Story Rumble might be a little harsh regarding your interaction with Matthias.

            My goal of the blog was to bring the different warring gangs together so that peace (or a common message regarding cloud strategy) emerges.  I’ve been a veteran of such turfs wars for too long – I’ve got the scars to prove it.

            What  I didn’t consider in my comment was that this “healing” interaction between the gangs can take place in various ways – some of these disputes will be more violent and heated (as seen in the video) and other interactions more thoughtful and reflective (as in your interaction with Matthias). 

            Instead of ridiculing, I should be encouraging the gangs to come to the peace table. I’ve seen Matthias doing so in other blogs which is a good sign.

            So, if I offended you both, I’m sorry. You are both examples of gang members who understand the necessity of working together to harmonize SAP’s cloud strategy.  You are the good guys who attempt to talk together – even more courageously – publicly.

            Perhaps, you should form your own gang – “Our gang”.

            [embed width="425" height="350"]https://www.youtube.com/embed/dh_g8J37dTo[/embed]

            (0) 
  3. Tom Van Doorslaer

    I’ll have to watch the vid this evening (Youtube blocked), but I can’t resist commenting.

    The many layers of the onion immediately made me think of “Shrek”

    “An ogre, is like an Onion”

    – “Why, because they make you cry?”

    – “No, they both have layers!”

    So you mean SAP cloud is like an Ogre? Or does it make you cry? 😆

    Just kidding of course.

    Will watch vid this evening 🙂

    (0) 
  4. Luke Marson

    Dick,

    Great job… again! I think what you’re attempting to do is the same mistake SAP is trying to do: group multiple different products, platforms, disciplines, etc, into one big strategy. It’s like having an on-premise strategy. SAP simply don’t have one. They have a HCM strategy, a CRM strategy, a social strategy, etc. And this is the problem with Cloud – SAP are trying to have a “catch all” for everything that isn’t On-Premise.

    For example, SuccessFactors: should this be in HCM strategy or Cloud strategy? Personally, I think it should be the first, but in reality it’s actually in both and this must be confusing to most people (I’m partially confused, but less so than your average person). Of course, you can argue it should be Cloud strategy (and People part of the Cloud strategy) – which is part of the problem. It can be in both.

    Maybe SAP need to look at an overall People strategy, Money strategy, Suppliers strategy, etc? Putting unrelated products together in a bucket based on their delivery method (SaaS/Cloud) is confusing and this is the message we’re getting from people.

    Best regards,

    Luke

    (0) 
    1. Richard Hirsch Post author

      Luke,

      An interesting perspective. I think one problem lies in human nature – we want a simple structure to help us understand complex entitites.  In this case that one structure is “one big cloud strategy” that must cover everything. 

      I also think that there are different perspectives on each Cloud offering (like your point that SuccessFactors fits into a Clou and HCM strategy) . The question is whether such a model lessens or increases complexity.

      D.

      (0) 

Leave a Reply