SAP: The Client/Server Is Back And It Is Cloud

SAP is having a blogger and analyst event this week that is an education in how a big company can one day be exciting and another offer a reminder of how different it is from the startups of the world.

That was pretty well summed up today when SAP’s Sethu Meenakshisundaram said the client/server is back and it is cloud. It’s such a curious analogy and a vexing one for most of the people I know and talk to every day. But on a practical level it shows how SAP is trying to bridge two worlds by using the client/server metaphor as a comparison to today’s modern services that the company is trying to embrace.

Meenakshisundaram said the client/server analogy to the cloud encompasses dimensions such as communications, deployment, and domain expertise. Cloud is a deployment model. Apps are deployed to the cloud as much as they are to on-premise servers. Cloud is a communications model driven by RESTful APIs. And there are domain specific cloud environments.

But, oh, how confusing it can be. It felt like the B.S. meter was at full tilt this morning, or perhaps it was just muddled thinking. But then again, as James Governor said, at least SAP is not making up some new term.

What we are really seeing is a company trying to get an understanding of a new reality. It’s not just cloud versus client/server. It’s about what it means to be an enterprise software company in an age when most developers are thinking about a new infrastructure and not what it compares to the ways of managing applications.