SAP Watch

May 14 2009   6:40PM GMT

SAP still trying to bring cloud computing down to earth

CourtneyBjorlin Courtney Bjorlin Profile: CourtneyBjorlin

Business ByDesign, SAP’s on-demand ERP, didn’t get too much play at Sapphire this year. With the product still under construction, there wasn’t too much to announce.

The big problem seems to be delivering on-demand software in a “profitable” way. This InformationWeek article offers a great behind the scenes look at what’s going on with Business ByDesign, including what types of “major reconstructive surgery,” it may need before it can be profitable enough to make generally available.

Cloud computing is the “OctoMom” of the technology news industry. And it’s tempting to think that because SAP doesn’t have an on-demand ERP in the market, it’s, as this Reuters article states, “being left behind” as other vendors sell the software.

But just because Business ByDesign isn’t on the market yet, does it mean SAP’s behind in cloud computing?

I spoke with many customers at Sapphire about what types of projects they’re working on this year, and what their strategies are for the future. Few mentioned any cloud-based projects.

Some still weren’t exactly sure what is indeed meant by the term “the cloud.”

In turn, SAP certainly wasn’t trying to hide Business ByDesign, or the company’s on-demand efforts — which include delivering on-demand expense management and human capital management “soon.” Apotheker pointed out that SAP sells CRM, procurement and sourcing and SAP BusinessObjects software on demand.

CEO Leo Apotheker included, albeit briefly, Business ByDesign in his keynote and invited attendees to demo it themselves to “kill a rumor” at one of the booths on the show floor. It’s something analyst Joshua Greenbaum did and said in his blog it “looked and acted pretty robust.”

And Apotheker certainly didn’t discount “the cloud” as a very important delivery model. In fact, most of his keynote focused on how SAP would make its software easier to deploy, lowering the total cost of ownership for its customers.

“I firmly believe that cloud computing is coming down to earth,” Apotheker said in his keynote. “Private clouds are becoming a totally feasible possibility.”

What do you think?

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