SAP confirms Wookey hiring, signals on-demand push

Ex-Oracle executive takes up senior role at rival

SAP has confirmed that it has hired former Oracle applications executive John Wookey, and says he will be charged with organising SAP's various on-demand offerings for large enterprises under a single strategy.

The IDG News Service first reported Wookey's hiring a week ago, citing a source with knowledge of his plans. An SAP spokesman declined comment at the time, saying SAP would have nothing to say regarding the matter until it briefed its own employees.

Wookey will be an executive vice president at SAP, reporting to executive board member Jim Hagemann Snabe.

"John spent 12 years at Oracle as senior vice president of applications development and is one of the most respected and renowned software applications experts in the world," SAP said in a statement. "We are very excited he has chosen SAP as the next stage of his career."

Wookey's work will have no bearing on Business ByDesign, SAP's nascent on-demand ERP product for the mid-market, Das says. "Anything that's related to large enterprises, he'll look at."

SAP has on-demand offerings in areas such as CRM and business intelligence.

Wookey was a key executive in support of Oracle's ongoing Fusion Applications strategy, which will combine best attributes from the company's various business software lines into a next-generation suite.

His departure from the company last year prompted questions over the Fusion project's status, but the precise reasons why he left have remained unclear.

Oracle has not provided a general release date for the initial Fusion Applications suite, but expects to have it in the hands of early customers late next year.

An Oracle spokeswoman declined comment on Wookey's hiring.

One industry observer characterised Wookey's hiring as a win for both parties.

"This is a great match," said Bruce Richardson, an analyst with AMR Research. "I think he wanted one last chance to do something big on a grand scale in a big company with lots of resources."

Richardson says he has known Wookey for some time, but isn't sure why he left Oracle: "I'm guessing in an organisation like that, the higher up you go, the greater the politics," he says.

Meanwhile, Wookey brings a strong combination of technical and managerial know-how to SAP and its new SaaS (software as a service) strategy, Richardson says.

On-demand software allows for easier deployments than on-premises products, Richardson says. SAP can sell its customers more products if it can free up dollars now being spent on systems integrators, he says.

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