SAP’s New Cloud Platform

coghead-illustration-690 SAP has purchased a cloud computing company, Coghead, a “next generation platform for building web applications.”

The vendor was struggling in the current economic climate, SAP Ventures had previously invested in the company, and the company already offered integration with SAP environments. “SAP is one of the premier tech companies in the world and we’re really happy this transaction took place,” said Coghead CEO Paul McNamara in an interview with InformationWeek.

Coghead will cease operations, and SAP will not be supporting existing customers, but will integrate many of Coghead’s employees.

A Platform For the Future

imageCoghead provided a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) that allowed its customers to build applications over the web, using an Adobe-Flex-based environment, hosted in Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) Web service. It called the platform “the fastest and most efficient way to build and deliver applications in the cloud.”

As TechCrunch said in their early coverage of Coghead: “Every company in Silicon Valley wants to become a platform for other companies to build cool stuff on top of.” Customers had praised the platform for its flexibility, using language typically not associated with more mature application development environments from SAP and others:

  • Coghead works the way we work “We need applications that work the way we work, not the way a software vendor thinks we should work. Packaged software often ends up delivering more than we need in some areas and less than we want in others.” – Paul Fu, VP and CIO, Morrison Express
  • Coghead was the difference “Coghead wasn’t just the difference between creating my app directly myself or doing it by remote control through I.T. It was the difference between getting it done and launching it instead of watching the grass grow while it percolated high enough for I.T. to attack.” – Ron Dion, Housing Authority of the County of Alameda (HACA)
  • A revolution in business process applications “From the moment we made the leap to using Coghead actions, we knew that a revolution in business process applications was right in front of us.” – Govind Davis, MCF Tech
  • Say hello to software that works the way you need it to “Coghead provides a unique way to look at software, one that allows for total user control in design and functionality of your application. Say goodbye to one size fits all, say hello to software that works the way you need it to.” – Mark Palmer, PeopleWerx
  • Coghead is going to change the way developers create applications “I believe Coghead is going to change the way developers create applications and how business is done in the software application industry … The open architecture and flexible platform allows developers, consultants and programmers to build applications as they want it … I think there are a number of companies in this space but Coghead is a leader in this aspect.” – Derek Tay, Consultant, Photographer, Derek Tay Productions

Coghead Highlights

coghead user_mode_5_600
Example products page built with Coghead
coghead user_mode_2_600
Example opportunities screen
coghead form_editing_1_600
Drag and drop forms editing
coghead controls_comp_600
Widgets, Data Structures & Functions
coghed action_editor_2_600
Create Workflows using the Action Editor
coghead integration_600
Custom Alerts with Variables

For more details on the Coghead platform and features:

  • Platform – In-depth look at the Coghead technology stack
  • Features – Comprehensive list of product features and capabilities
  • Screenshots – Visual tour of the Coghead user interface, editors and admin tools

The SAP Advantage: Cloud Computing with Enterprise Backup

The Coghead platform is now part of SAP’s product portfolio. According to Vishal Sikka, SAP CTO:

“Coghead was a true pioneer in platform-as-a-service and cloud computing in general. Coghead’s IP and expertise will help SAP in various aspects of our Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) technology and application initiatives. I have always seen delivery of application capabilities from cloud as a key component of the total capability we need to deliver to our customers.”

 There has been no formal announcement as to how or whether SAP will be selling the product in the future. The existing Coghead service will continue through April, and customers are scrambling to download their data and find alternatives for their hosted applications.

Lack of long-term security is one of the often-cited dangers of cloud computing. As a prescient commentator said in 2007, as a comment to a Techcrunch note on Coghill: “I build a business on coghead then coghead goes bust – guess what happens to my business?”

SAP is now in the position of being able to combine flexible, easy cloud application development with the kind of robust backup expected from mature application vendors – it will be interesting to see what it does with this opportunity.

Other links: