SAP Scores Coup with Wookey Hire

By John Pallatto  |  Posted 2008-11-12

John Wookey, the former head of application development for Oracle's Fusion applications, started work on Nov. 10 with Oracle's archrival SAP as senior vice president of Large Enterprise On Demand applications.

In this position, Wookey will work with several of SAP's "large enterprise on-demand offerings," including SAP CRM on demand with the goal of developing "more relevant on-demand offerings," according to an SAP spokesperson.

He will be part of the leadership of SAP board member Jim Hagemann Snabe's Business Solutions and Technology team, according to SAP officials.

SAP is locked in a struggle with Oracle over dominance in the global ERP (enterprise resource management) market. These applications enable larger enterprises to manage essential business operations from accounting and finance to human resources and sales.

SAP indicated that it wants to bring greater integration to its Web-enabled on-demand offerings "with a singular strategy for increased innovation and enhancement under Wookey's leadership." But SAP didn't provide any details on how it is going to do this.

Wookey had rock star status as the highly visible head of Oracle's Fusion project, which is an effort to bring together the best functionality from the Oracle E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and Siebel Systems Enterprise Resource Planning and Customer Resource Planning applications under a unified interface running on top of Oracle's middleware architecture.

Although Wookey is recognized as one of the top software development talents in the industry, he had the highly risky and ultimately thankless task of integrating disparate product lines that Oracle acquired through its multibillion-dollar corporate buyout binge.

Every time Oracle acquired another company, there seemed to be more applications to bring under the Fusion umbrella, making delivery dates a moving target. This raised questions whether fully re-engineered Fusion applications would arrive anywhere near on schedule.

The effort was so complex that it was inevitable that the Fusion project would fall behind schedule, and that is exactly what happened. Wookey left Oracle in October 2007 reportedly after clashing with Oracle CEO Larry Ellison over the pace of the development effort.

By hiring Wookey, SAP has managed to land one of the world's top experts in the development of Web-enabled ERP applications who also knows Oracle's application architecture inside and out. While Wookey can't bring any Oracle software technology with him to SAP, unless he wants to draw the unwelcome attention of an ever-litigious Ellison and his lawyers, he will certainly bring a lot of ingrained knowledge about the best way to build on-demand enterprise applications.

After his experience with Fusion, he may also have learned how to avoid the pitfalls of over-ambitious development projects.

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