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I apologize for this blog being devoid of any technical information but, I felt that this was important enough to talk about it here.

 

Many of us have been hoping that SDN could be the place where we has SAP developers could come together and start to create useful Open Source solutions our “own” Craig Cmehil has begun an SDN and Open Source  However, it seems that SAP as a whole or at least Shai Agassi, doesn’t think Open Source can produce anything enterprise grade.

In a talk given November 9th for the Churchill Club in Sunnyvale Calf, Mr. Agassi said, “We all talk about how great Linux is, but if you look at the most innovative desktop today, Microsoft’s Vista is not copying Linux, it is copying Apple.”  He also went to say that. “Open source is great for debugging, but it’s crucial not to touch [the code].”  I have written on SDN previously about how SAP could be poised to take their entire application suite and make it more open source.  It would appear from Mr. Agassi’s remarks that not only will this never happen but, it would be “the worst that can happen to any IP-based society.”  I was very surprised and saddened at this obvious rebuke of the usefulness of Open Source solutions epically considering how much SAP as a company uses them.  Just as an example, Eclipse is the foundation for the NWDS, which is a totally open source project.

I could not disagree with Mr. Agassi anymore about open source not being innovative.  Linux might not have the lead in “beautiful” desktop software, but peel back the pretty covering from Apple’s OSX and you’ll find a Free BSD system propping the whole thing up.  Free BSD might not be as sexy as Aqua but without its innovative use of the Mach kernel (developed by folks at Carnegie Mellon University) and SMP Aqua wouldn’t work.  If anyone should understand that innovative doesn’t mean sexy it should be SAP.   For years they banked on their stable unbreakable ABAP stack, which is decidedly not sexy.

  Disclaimer:  I was not actually at the talk all quotes come from an article posted here.

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  1. Ed Herrmann
    Excerpt from first page of article:

    …If SAP’s software did go open source, Agassi claimed that the company would no longer have an incentive to innovate.

    “Intellectual property [IP] socialism is the worst that can happen to any IP-based society,” he said. “And we are an IP-based society. If there is no way to protect IP, there is no reason to invest in IP.”

    Excerpt from second page:

    …”There are pirates in the market,” Agassi said in a reference to Oracle. ” There is a big pirate ship that goes around. But we are sailing faster.”
    …This leads organisations to stop buying new software and upgrades, requiring large scale to survive. “If Oracle is right, it’s the end of innovation in this industry,” warned Agassi.

    I have heard Shai speak at several events, and I respect his opinions and think he is an absolutely great speaker.  However, I was not impressed with what I read about this one at all. 
    It sounds like we are to believe that SAP is the only company that is innovative and if anyone else tries to compete, whether it is opensource or a major competitor, then they are hurting the market and killing innovation.  I would be very interested in hearing the whole speech and/or hearing Shai’s comments about this here on SDN. 

    -Eddie

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    1. Daniel McWeeney Post author
      Jeff –
      I agree it does not appear to be as doom and gloom against Open Source as the reporter makes it seem.  However, from a customer point of view, it sounds like SAP plans to close more of their code base rather then share it with us as they have always done.  I think i would prefer him being just anti-OSS!
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      1. Jeffrey Word
        I’d suggest you watch the video as well, Shai explains very clearly what and what will not be open to customers & partners and the logic behind our strategy.  The reporter was just stirring up some controversy
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