SAP cloud chief Lars Dalgaard steps down as company consolidates development

SAP(s sap), the legacy business software behemoth that is now definitely, totally, 100 percent A Cloud Company,  just lost the man who made it so. Lars Dalgaard, who joined SAP when the German-U.S. giant bought his company, SuccessFactors, in late 2011, has quit to become an investor. He will stay on as a cloud advisor to SAP, however.

The news came out Friday as part of a flurry of SAP announcements. Another of those also relates to a departure – that of human resources chief Luisa Delgado, whose responsibilities will be taken on by CFO Werner Brandt – but the big non-quitting-related news is that SAP is consolidating its business to better reflect its newfound cloudiness.

SAP’s cloud “go-to-market” strategy will now all be under the purview of Bob Calderoni, CEO of Ariba (alongside SuccessFactors, one of SAP’s major cloud buys of the last two years). And development will all be under the control of technology chief Vishal Sikka.

SAP is pitching this new structure as an innovation accelerator, but does it finally signal a streamlining of the company’s sprawling and often confusing portfolio (a condition I like to call IBMitis)? Yes! And no.

As Sikka said on a conference call today:

“We see an opportunity to not only consolidate and streamline the portfolio, but bring incredible efforts… to transform that in the power of the cloud. We will get into areas that are truly unprecedented – applications for new industries that weren’t possible before [such as] healthcare, banking, oil and energy.”

Which is nice, but – as co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe chipped in – SAP has “a lot of commitments” to its existing customers too, and “we’re a company that stands by our commitments.” This may mean we should expect some redundancy within the portfolio to continue for a while yet, in order to keep those with more old-school SAP systems in place happy.

As for SAP’s ongoing cloud strategy, co-CEO Bill McDermott promised that Dalgaard’s exit would lead to “zero business disruption”:

“Our cloud DNA is now embedded across 65,000 minds and hearts and it’s become the soul of SAP. While it’s nice to have one evangelist for the cloud, it’s even better to have 65,000.

“Lars took us from $20 million in terms of revenue to a $1 billion run rate in the cloud. Now it’s about scale because everything is cloud. No other company has gone through this transition so fast – it literally happened in 12-15 months under his leadership.”

McDermott added that Dalgaard had been having “open conversations” with him and Hagemann Snabe for some time about his plans to downgrade his role to that of advisor. “This is the nicest balance he could find in his personal life and we were happy to accommodate him because we think the world of the guy,” he said.

Speaking of SAP’s thorough cloudiness, the company also announced on Thursday that it would deliver its products – including, of course, those on the in-memory HANA platform — on VMware’s(s vmw) newly-re-announced vCloud Hybrid Service IaaS platform, as well as vCloud Suite. This will allow for fully managed services on-premise, in the cloud and in hybrid deployments.