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Will Vishal Sikka's exit mean a shift back to software?

The departure of SAP's head technology strategist, Vishal Sikka, has led to absurd predictions that SAP will be prompted to make a significant course change, namely, abandoning its recent focus on technology platforms, according to one analyst.

"A lot of interpreters of this event think that this marks a shift back toward applications for SAP," said Jon Reed, co-founder of "I really hope for SAP's sake that's wrong. I [also] think the people who think that are nuts."

Roughly two weeks ago, SAP abruptly announced that Sikka, the very public face of SAP's technical vision and strategy, had resigned for personal reasons.

Sikka had been a major proponent of SAP's focus on building platforms, including the SAP HANA Cloud Platform, which runs on its heavily marketed HANA in-memory database. The idea is that SAP creates or re-engineers core applications to run on the platform, leaving SAP partners and customers to develop custom applications that cater to specific processes and unique requirements.

Reed said those who think SAP might return to its prior focus on building applications are wrong.

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For one, SAP has purchased some significant cloud applications, such as Ariba and SuccessFactors, as well as built some of its own cloud products for customer relationship management, as well as its flagship cloud ERP for smaller companies, Business ByDesign, according to Reed.

SAP needs a common platform upon which its current and future cloud products can live, he said.

"[SAP is] in the process of moving them over. SuccessFactors may be the furthest along, in that it has extensions that work with the HANA Cloud Platform. But the point is, they've got to finish this job. If they're going to compete in the cloud, they need all their applications on the same platform," Reed said.

"[There's] this idea that SAP is suddenly going to huddle in Walldorf and come out with this next-generation cloud ERP suite," he added. "That's crazy, that's not going to happen."

Watch the video to hear more of Reed's thoughts on Sikka's departure, the role that startups will have in developing new applications, and what the upcoming SAP Sapphire Now conference will be like without Sikka around to articulate the company's technology vision.

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