SAP Revamps R&D: It All Hinges On HANA

Lars Dalgaard, who has overseen SAP's expanding cloud computing efforts since the company acquired SuccessFactors early last year, is leaving SAP following a reorganization of SAP's research and development efforts.

SAP is creating a single development organization it said would put development operations under the direction of Vishal Sikka, a member of the SAP Executive Board and head of technology and innovation. Sikka has been highly visible at such events as SAP's Sapphire Now conference earlier this month, where he touted the company's HANA in-memory database technology.

SAP said the new, single development organization would help the company execute on its plans to use HANA as a platform for development of virtually all new and existing products, a goal outlined by co-CEO Bill McDermott at Sapphire Now. The move also would accelerate what SAP calls its "cloud-first" approach to developing line-of-business applications and speed up development of mobile computing technologies.

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Effective June 1 all SAP development and custom development managers will report directly to Sikka, the company said.

Dalgaard will step down from SAP's Executive Board and leave the company, effective June 1, "to become an investor," SAP said in a statement. Dalgaard "will continue to play an active role as an advisor to the SAP cloud business and will stay closely involved in the future development of SAP's cloud strategy," the company said.

SAP acquired SuccessFactors, a provider of cloud-based talent management applications, for $3.4 billion. That move was widely seen as a bid by SAP to give its slowly developing cloud computing efforts a boost. Dalgaard founded SuccessFactors in 2001 and, at the time of the acquisition, SAP said he would be put in charge of SAP's cloud computing program.

Dalgaard, an entrepreneur at heart, may have struggled to fit into SAP's engineer-driven culture. At the 2012 Sapphire Now conference, for example, Dalgaard was critical of how SAP had marketed the Business ByDesign cloud application set, the company's core cloud offering that was slow to gain market traction.

NEXT: Move Could Help SAP's Cloud Channel Efforts

Sikka and SAP co-founder Hasso Plattner, who retains a major influence on SAP's technology direction, had visible roles at this year's Sapphire Now conference. While Dalgaard was scheduled to deliver a keynote speech, he was unable to attend because of his father's death just before the conference.

One SAP partner wasn't concerned about the reorganization. "From a partner perspective, I was surprised about the information, but I think it is good news for partners in the cloud channel at SAP," said Alex Rooney, vice president of SAP Gold channel partner Vision33, in a note to CRN about the management changes.

"Lars came from a publisher-centric world and did not understand the channel, so my hope is that this will be a step in the right direction for partners under partner-centric SAP leadership," he said. "Remember, it took SAP awhile to develop their partner channel and the results have been quite positive."

SAP will consolidate all of its cloud business go-to-market operations under Bob Calderoni, CEO of Ariba, the developer of cloud-based business commerce software SAP acquired last year for $4.3 billion. Calderoni is president of SAP's global cloud operations and is a member of the company's global managing board.

Executive Board member Gerhard Oswald will manage a new "scale, quality and support" organization and will be responsible for the operations of SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud. He will continue to be responsible for the SAP Active Global Support organization, the company's labs network, and "solution and knowledge packaging," according to SAP.