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key SaaS executive, John Wookey leaving SAP

John Wookey, Executive VP- Business On Demand,SAP

SAP executive John Wookey, who was charged with developing a SaaS  strategy for large enterprises, is leaving the vendor after about two-and-a-half years, the company said Monday.

SAP executive Peter Lorenz, to whom Wookey reported, will oversee the large enterprise SaaS division until a successor is named, said spokesman Jim Dever. Wookey is leaving for personal reasons, Dever said. “He actually is going to spend some time with his family and figure out what he wants to do beyond that.”

“This certainly doesn’t change our commitment to the on-demand business,” Dever added. “We’ve hit a number of milestones.” Wookey, whose title at SAP was did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A high-profile hire for SAP, Wookey arrived at the company in November 2008 following a stint at rival Oracle, where he was an early driver of that company’s long-gestating Fusion Applications. At SAP, Wookey had been working on a series of SaaS applications meant to serve as extensions to the company’s flagship Business Suite.

One of the first products to emerge from Wookey’s team was the CRM application Sales on Demand. More are expected to be discussed at SAP’s Sapphire conference in Orlando next month.

His departure is “a significant loss for SAP,” as he had put together a star team including ex-Oracle and ex-Salesforce.com employees, said analyst Ray Wang, CEO of Constellation Research. Wookey also “put together the right esprit de corps to move forward,” Wang added.

“I definitely considered him in the top five most important people at SAP,” said Jon Reed, an independent analyst who closely tracks SAP. “Wookey had a lot of creative ideas but his work wasn’t done, so that’s the concern.”

While SAP’s large enterprise SaaS strategy was probably not going to generate major amounts of revenue this year, it is key to positioning the company as something other than “a legacy vendor living off maintenance revenues and hoping for the best,” Reed said.

Along with the large-enterprise SaaS strategy, SAP is selling Business ByDesign, an on-demand ERP suite aimed at midmarket companies as well as divisions of larger ones. The applications for large enterprises are now based on ByDesign’s underlying platform, after first being targeted for a different set of technologies.

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