SAP sticks its head in the ground

CEO Henning Kagermann's decision to give short shrift to software-as-a-service will hurt SAP and its customers

The contrast between old and new software couldn't have been stronger this week.

With his company beset by competition from Oracle, Microsoft, and Salesforce.com and with new technologies such as software as a service and cloud computing redefining how enterprises think about software, you'd think SAP's CEO would put on his visionary's hat and talk real strategy. You'd be wrong.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Henning Kagermann airily dismisses software's new direction. His exact words weren't published, but here's the Journal's summary: "That's not to say there isn't a role for software from companies other than the SAPs and Oracles of the world. But Mr. Kagermann says that these systems will complement, not replace, traditional business software."

Days later, Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff announced that his company is making it easier to integrate Google Apps with the Salesforce platform. Benioff, and his "end of software" mantra can be annoying, but his company changed the game in enterprise software and keeps pushing out new ways of extending its platform. What a contrast to SAP, a company so stuck in the 20th century that its on-demand efforts (along with attempts to reach the small-business market) are pitifully weak.

Salesforce.com does Google

Salesforce.com released tools that allow developers using the SaaS pioneer's cloud-based development platform to integrate with data from Google services via Google Data APIs. Sure. That's an incremental step, not a leap. But it's yet another move toward the day when enterprises will make serious use of Web 2.0 mashups, instead of expensive, proprietary applications.

Ryan Boyd, of the Google Data APIs team, says in his blog that "the new toolkit enables server-to-server communication between the Force.com platform and your favorite Google Data APIs." What's more, developers can use Apex code to access the APIs for the Google's Contacts, Calendar, Spreadsheets, Documents, and Blogger tools.

Boyd says that "CODA, a European Financial applications provider, has used this new library to build a prototype Web application which enables an exchange of data between Google Spreadsheets and their CODA 2go financial application built on the Force.com platform." The end result is an easily made cost allocation spreadsheet -- an important accounting tool.

I'm not a programmer, but it certainly seems that these tools are easy to use. For example, Salesforce.com posted an entry on Monday showing that a developer can pull events from Google Calendar with only five lines of code.

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