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SAP — Open Source Friend Or Foe ? 155

pavithran writes "Does SAP, one of the largest business companies offering software solutions, support FOSS as a movement? Why is SAP looking at closed and open source in a similar way? This shows lot of ambiguity in SAP's attitude towards open source software. I found an interesting article in Linux Journal on whether SAP is an open source friend or foe, by Glyn Moody. Here's a quote from the article: 'For an outfit that calls itself "the world's largest business software company," the German software giant SAP is relatively little-known in the open source world. With 51,500 employees, a turnover of 11.5 billion euros ($16 billion) last year, and operating profits of 2.7 billion euros ($3.8 billion), SAP is clearly one of the heavyweights in the computer world. Given that huge clout, SAP's attitude to open source is important; and yet it is hard to tell whether it is really free software's friend or its foe. ... A company that wished open source well would back these ideas. One that really supported free software would also fight against software patents. So, while SAP's involvement in Eclipse and investment in open source companies is welcome — and pretty self-interested, it has to be said, given that it presumably hopes to make a profit on them — it's not really enough cancel out its unhelpful attitude and statements elsewhere. If it wants to be a serious, respected player in the world of open source, as befits its size, it must do better.'"
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SAP — Open Source Friend Or Foe ?

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  • As an employee... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by VorpalRodent ( 964940 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @03:10PM (#28312293)
    I don't have a lot of exposure to the sales side of things. I'm an engineer and will work on support calls as needed. However, I can say that internally, I have not witnessed any sort of stigma against it. We've recommended open source solutions for customers as workarounds for issues and have used open source tools internally where appropriate. Everything I've seen suggests that it is viewed like anything else - a potential tool that our customers may or may not benefit from, if used correctly. We build many products on many variants of Linux (which can be viewed as supporting those customers who support and use open source software).

    I admit that it sounds mighty idealistic, but at the same time, like many of the earlier posters, I wholly agree that it is quite possible to take a more neutral stance on the issue. It's not limited to only friends and enemies.

    At the same time, I've been involved with discussions with legal ensuring that GPL'd code is not present in software products I am responsible for as a matter of protection of corporate interests.
  • by juanergie ( 909157 ) <superjuanelo@gmail.com> on Friday June 12, 2009 @03:10PM (#28312295) Homepage Journal

    Every software company benefits from Open Source, whether they'd like to admit it or not. They can peek in the Open Source world and find implementation tricks or functional paradigms and apply them to their products. Maybe even embed some GPL applications into a larger proprietary suite.

    I believe SAP will not give up its competitive advantage by fully embracing Open Source if this translates into reduced profits; it does not make economic sense. However, SAP can be supportive (at least non obtrusive) of Open Source to further leverage whatever advantages it may provide and, secondarily, keep the die-hard computer programmers marginally happy.

  • SAP is open source (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ingo23 ( 848315 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @03:14PM (#28312353)
    Technically speaking, SAP is probably one of the first companies to distribute the source code with their product. Any company that purchased an SAP product gets complete source code for the business application (except for the core, which is more like an OS). One does not even need to apply for access to it, the whole application part is developed in an interpreted language with the source, IDE, and debugger readily available.

    The article complains that SAP does not support all the OSS community initiatives (as if nobody in OSS world ever has had any disagreement) and backs software patents.
    As a software development company, SAP has no other choice than to hold on to their patent portfolio, even if for defense reasons. I am not saying that SAP will (or have) never sue anyone for patent infringement, but I have not heard of any widely publicized case of them doing so.

  • Re:As an employee... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sasayaki ( 1096761 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @03:22PM (#28312505)

    Everything I've seen suggests that it is viewed like anything else - a potential tool that our customers may or may not benefit from, if used correctly.

    This is how all software should be, in my opinion. Creating a zealous movement around it (be that Apple, Linux or Microsoft) does nobody any good. Pieces of software are tools; sometimes you just want a hammer to run games (Windows), sometimes you want a saw to host a web server (Linux), sometimes you want a screwdriver to boost your 'hip' score (Apple).

    Use the correct tool and your life will forever be easier. The Free Software Movement is very important and cool, but ultimately when you find a nail you better have a hammer.

  • by rbrausse ( 1319883 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @03:57PM (#28313119)

    why is this modded as "funny"? I lost ~ 20 years of my life with roll-outs of SAP R/3 in hospitals...

    [but I have to admit, the software is impressive. only the human kind is not sophisticated enough to handle this monster]

  • Friend or Foe ? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gearloos ( 816828 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @08:07PM (#28315865)
    The debate is still open wether SAP is even it's own customers Friend or Foe!! I work at a ~20k employee company that went SAP this year. I have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING good to say about SAP. So I'll just shut up and keep my integrity, what little I have left heh
  • Foe (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lord Crowface ( 1315695 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @09:31PM (#28316423)

    They sold MaxDB to MySQL, who open sourced it. After MySQL and various contributors improved MaxDB to the point where it was useful, they bought it back and immediately closed the source. Those are pretty clearly the actions of a ardent foe of open source.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"