Blurring the Boundaries Between Open Source And Closed Source

February 19, 2009 by Michael Hitzek, SAP.info

Linux, Red Hat, Alfresco, MySQL, and OpenOffice.org have two things in common: They are all Open Source software (OSS) providers and are all supported by SAP in many different ways, not least financially.

In his keynote in Nuremberg, Mark Yolton articulated what he regards as a general economic trend: “The world is becoming increasingly customer-oriented and user-centric.” Open collaboration and open innovation from customers and suppliers are the buzzwords of the hour, he says. Taking various examples, the Senior Vice President of the SAP Community Network demonstrated how companies from a wide range of industries are opening up to their customers, allowing them to participate in the development of new products and services.

“Tearing down the barriers between SAP and its customers”

“SAP is aligning forces with its customers too”, says Yolton. In interactive communities such as the SAP Developer Network (SDN), Business Process Expert Community (BPX) or the Industry Value Networks, customers, partners, and developers exchange ideas, requirements, possible solutions, and even share best practices. According to Yolton, this is about nothing less than tearing down the barriers between SAP and its customers, a move that improves technology and stimulates co-innovation.

In the SAP EcoHub, the online marketplace for selected SAP and partner offerings, customers can discover, evaluate and buy solutions online. The Enterprise Social Media Experiment (ESME) project is one example of the growing number of community projects that deal with SAP issues, but are neither founded nor financed by SAP.

Yolton also feels that SAP plays an active part in the Open Source movement, citing the following evidence:

  • SAP delivers source code
  • SAP NetWeaver is based on Java and Eclipse
  • SAP supports OpenOffice.org and Mozilla Firefox
  • SAP provides a multi-platform client: SAPGUI for Java
  • SAP supports Open Source languages
  • SAP began supporting Linux back in 1999. In the SAP LinuxLab, hardware partners such as HP, DELL, IBM, and Bull, distributors Novell SUSE and Red Hat, and the technology consulting firm REALTECH work to help keep Linux solutions ready for business critical applications.
  • SAP is the founding member of the Eclipse Foundation that develops an Open Source integrated development environment (IDE) for Java and has taken a leading role in a number of its projects

For Mark Yolton, the combination of all these factors means that SAP offers its customers a wide range of choice. Its commitment to and its work with Open Source confirms that SAP considers customer requirements a top priority.

Focus on customer requirements

“Companies want to have a choice, they want to be independent from certain providers and platforms, and they want to keep their IT running costs as low as possible,” explains Yolton. They also want to enjoy legal security, data security, and reliability.

SAP seeks to satisfy these requirements by offering customers “the best of both worlds” – in other words, the best solutions from Open Source and Closed Source. Looking to the future, Yolton says: “The boundaries between Open Source and Closed Source are becoming increasingly blurred.”

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