Oracle versus Salesforce versus IBM versus SAP

Who is the best in the cloud - Microsoft, IBM, SAP, Salesforce, Amazon, Oracle, Google?

Everyone knows the four strongest software companies in the world. But who will be in charge of the cloud in the future? Opinions about it don't differ that far.
It is not difficult to list the four largest software companies in the world. Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and SAP are the global topshots. At the top is Microsoft with Office, Windows and Azure, then comes IBM with its Biz software, Oracle with its database and SAP with its ERP. So far, so clear. Together, the four market leaders - Computerworld estimates - around 140 billion dollars in the 2015 financial year. The cloud, however, will swirl the mighty four up and down. Some will hold their own, some will not. Infoworld sees Amazon, Microsoft, Google and IBM at the forefront of the cloud in the future, and attaches it to the current sales figures. Amazon is the market leader in the infrastructure-as-a-service market, but has also greatly expanded its software offering. The former online bookseller grew 80 percent year-on-year and had sales of more than $ 7 billion in the cloud in 2015. Amazon is the current top earner and will remain so in the future, according to Infoworld. In second place is Microsoft with five billion and Office 365 and Azure as the main revenue drivers. The analyst firm FBR Capital Markets estimates that Redmond could crack the 8 billion sales mark in the cloud in 2016. IBM grew 45 percent and achieved annual sales of $ 4.5 billion with its cloud offerings in 2015.

Google's ambitious plans

Google / Alphabet draws its billions in sales from Internet advertising. The group has not yet released any figures on its cloud sales. Experts estimate it to be a modest $ 400 million. But Google is planning ambitiously: The Swiss Urs Hölzle, software boss at Google, recently predicted that in five years the cloud sales of the group would exceed the advertising sales. That was about $ 65 billion in 2015.

1.7 million Google apps

This can be dismissed as a marketing swagger, or it can be understood as a declaration of war. After all, the company has rolled out 1.7 million apps via its App Engine, Gartner estimates the number of App Engine customers at around 10,000, and most likely even more. However, the Google App Engine is currently still severely underrepresented in professional enterprise IT. Who will have the say in the cloud in the future, whether Microsoft, IBM, SAP or Google, will primarily be decided on the software developer front. Platform-as-a-Service offers (PaaS) - i.e. developer frameworks in the cloud - are of great strategic importance. Programmers use them to create industry solutions and ad-ons that customers can use to supplement the standardized cloud software and tailor it to their needs. Gartner sees Microsoft and Salesforce at the top in its latest magic quadrant for cloud software development (Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Application Platform as a Service, March 2016). Then nothing comes for a long time. Gartner analysts rate Google as challengers, while IBM, SAP and Oracle are considered visionaries.

Is Salesforce Too Expensive?

The cloud pioneer Salesforce has been on the market for more than 16 years and started its cloud CRM in 1999. The cloud developer platform (PaaS) followed in 2007, later expanded by Heroku and renamed "Lightning". Salesforce was way ahead of the competition and currently generates the most money in the cloud. The PaaS alone flushes 1 billion dollars into the coffers every year. The company is also considered to be quite expensive. Half of the Salesforce customers surveyed by Gartner rated the price / performance ratio as "ok (fair)" or worse. In turn, Microsoft, the second leader in the Gartner quadrant, can count on millions of .NET developers who may just be waiting to migrate to the Azure cloud. However, the potential is immense. However, according to Gartner, Microsoft shouldn't spend its time on side wars and should focus more on its core PaaS. Gartner believes that the strategic focus on competing with Amazon in particular is unnecessarily costly.

Microsoft must use synergy effects

In addition, and this is more serious, Microsoft's SaaS offer - like Dynamics and Office 365 - is not yet integrated with its development environment (PaaS). Microsoft should catch up on this as soon as possible in order to benefit from SaaS / PaaS synergies, advises Gartner. Dynamics and Office 365 customers could then "seamlessly" adapt or add to their standard cloud software either by hand or with the help of third-party software.

SAP's loyal regular customers

At SAP, Gartner praises, among other things, the high integration density of the Hana Cloud Platform (HCP) with the S / 4 Hana product series and the SaaS range. The HCP customers surveyed by Garnter particularly praised the integration and ease of use for end users. Gartner complains, however, that HCP is still too little known outside of SAP customers. SAP shouldn't rely too much on the loyalty of its regular customers, as this could damage competitiveness in the long term.

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