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Nowadays we are flooded by sales people trying to sell "the Cloud", specially here on SCN where SAP has dedicated sections on the home page for SAP Cloud Computing and HANA with a great focus on the cloud. I usually don't look at them but as some creep up to the "Top liked", I've seen a pattern emerge.

SAP is constantly trying to sell you the "Cloud", via blogs that compare On-Premise vs "the Cloud" (badly I might add, but I digress), or adding "Cloud" to every product as if it is something cool, but rarely being specific about it (with some notable exception of course, usually from SCN more tradicional contributors). The fact is that when you talk about SAP "Cloud" you could be talking about:

  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): This is basically having a cloud provider like Amazon or Microsoft provide you with a OS, Database, and you install SAP ECC on top of it. They manage the hardware, you are responsible for most of the software;
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS): This is SAP HANA XS. You rent a platform on which you are going to develop your own services. That platform doesn't do much by itself, it is an application enabler;
  • Software as a Service (SaaS): This is SucessFactors or Ariba. The software operates on the cloud, it's usually multi-tenant, and has very little development flexibility as the updates and functionality must be provided by the vendor (with some exceptions).

These are 3 extremely different scenarios that SAP tries to sell as "the Cloud". And you wonder why customers get confused when you talk about SAP HANA Cloud. What is it? SAP ECC running on HANA (IaaS), SAP HANA XS (PaaS)? Is SAP ECC in the Cloud a SaaS? This leads to a lot of confusion.

Another way to do it? Look at how Microsoft handles this. They have a product called Microsoft CRM Dynamics 2013. Period. It has features, capabilities, and after you have determined if you want the software they ask you: "On-Premise or On-Demand"? They don't sell you "The Cloud" they sell you software, and the customer chooses where to run it. I'm not a marketing person but I handle customers, and from my experience this is much easier to understand.

The product should come first, where it runs is a matter of economics.

As far as SaaS is concerned, SAP is misguided since it always all about the advantages of "the Cloud" (not even SaaS), instead of the advantages of a particular software. Are all SaaS the same? Are they all multi-tenant? Are they all de facto closed for development? Not really, and this just propagates the myths of Cloud Computing, instead of highlighting the strengths of a particular software package like SucessFactors (which happens to be cloud based).

I see so many generic blogs about "the Cloud", and so few about actual, real software like SF or Ariba. Sell me SF, don't sell me "the Cloud" and then expect me to buy SF because it is cloud based.

And so I conclude this blog with the title which sums it up: Sell good software (or platform) and the "Cloud" will sell itself.