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Concealment Strategy

What’s right is wrong. Sooner or later, SAP CEO Christian Klein will be right with his "cloud-only" postulate.
Peter M. Färbinger, E3 Magazine
December 1, 2023
This text has been automatically translated from German to English.

Cloud computing is not all the same. SAP CEO Christian Klein is probably right with his "cloud only" postulate, but what SAP is offering as cloud computing is, at best, lift and shift. Harro von Senger described the situation perfectly in his highly readable book "36 Stratagems for Managers" with stratagem number one, called “obfuscation and stealth stratagems:

Deceive the emperor by inviting him to a house by the sea, which is actually a ship in disguise, and convince him to cross the sea.

Christian Klein is not the first SAP CEO to apply this obfuscation strategy to the emperor, i.e., the customers. Former CEO Henning Kagermann (see figure) also tried to deceive SAP users through numerous offers such as ESA,, and NetWeaver.

Harro von Senger writes in his book: "In our European culture, we must learn to be more sensitive to cunning and not demonize it from the outset, but rather recognize it as something that is part of everyday life. Incidentally, in Chinese the same character for the "cunning" is also used for "wisdom". Harro von Senger is Professor Emeritus of Sinology at the Albert-Ludwigs University in Freiburg, Germany, and an expert on Chinese law.

When Christian Klein says, "cloud only," he is describing an ideal situation in which many users simultaneously use a cloud application on the basis of a single release. This situation is common with many cloud-native vendors and demonstrates the added value of a standardized system. SAP's cloud-native applications, such as Concure, SuccessFactors, and Ariba, also offer these cloud-typical benefits.

However, the ECC successor S/4 is not a cloud-native product. In the 2015 presentation by Klein's predecessor, Bill McDermott, cloud computing was never mentioned. It was only later that the on-premises product S/4 was lifted into the cloud through “Lift and Shift”. Christian Klein likes to hide this fact. At its core, S/4 is a classic ERP for your own data center, with outsourcing and hosting options via hyperscalers.

The cartoon by Robert Platzgummer (1975 to 2016) was first published in the September 2006 issue of E3. SAP managers have always tried to get existing customers excited about products and ultimately licenses that were often not really necessary.
Peter M. Färbinger, E3 Magazine

Peter M. Färbinger, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief E3 Magazine DE, US and ES (, AG, Freilassing (DE), E-Mail: and Tel. +49(0)8654/77130-21

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Working on the SAP basis is crucial for successful S/4 conversion. 

This gives the Competence Center strategic importance for existing SAP customers. Regardless of the S/4 Hana operating model, topics such as Automation, Monitoring, Security, Application Lifecycle Management and Data Management the basis for S/4 operations.

For the second time, E3 magazine is organizing a summit for the SAP community in Salzburg to provide comprehensive information on all aspects of S/4 Hana groundwork. All information about the event can be found here:

SAP Competence Center Summit 2024


Event Room, FourSide Hotel Salzburg,
At the exhibition center 2,
A-5020 Salzburg

Event date

June 5 and 6, 2024

Regular ticket:

€ 590 excl. VAT


Event Room, Hotel Hilton Heidelberg,
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Event date

28 and 29 February 2024


Regular ticket
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The organizer is the E3 magazine of the publishing house AG. The presentations will be accompanied by an exhibition of selected SAP partners. The ticket price includes the attendance of all lectures of the Steampunk and BTP Summit 2024, the visit of the exhibition area, the participation in the evening event as well as the catering during the official program. The lecture program and the list of exhibitors and sponsors (SAP partners) will be published on this website in due time.