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Background:

The annual “Open Source Meets Business” (OSMB) conference was held last week (January 27-29, 2009) in Nuremberg, Germany.  Several hundred attendees were present for an investment summit, a technology summit, and an enterprise summit over the course of three days. 

SAP was a major sponsor, as were SAP partners including RedHat and Novell, open source “start-ups” in which SAP Ventures invests such as Alfresco and BlackDuck, participants in the LinuxLab at SAP headquarters in Walldorf.  SAP had “booth space” to network and engage with customers and others, we ran a day full of breakout presentations as a separate track, and I gave the closing keynote followed by audience Q&A. 

Themes:

The major themes I covered in my talk included:

  • Global shifts and growing trends favoring customer-centric open collaboration … which leads to open innovation and co-development across an entire ecosystem of partners and customers … which incorporate many of the principles of open source and sometimes lead to open source activity and developments … which can then set the stage for open standards (technology, business, industry-specific). 

 

  • An introduction to SAP’s customer-focused ecosystem, including the various partner types and PartnerEdge as a unifying program, plus the various community types including large/open communities and private/orchestrated communities (you know these as SDN, BPX, and the Business Objects communities).  Also examples of SAP’s open collaboration and innovation posture, including: Innocentive, EcoHub, SAP Mentors, and ESME

 

  • The growing importance of open source – including some proof points from the media. 

 

  • Our thoughts on the reasons why open source is successful, and observations that the “pure play” approaches – whether pure open source, or pure closed source (proprietary) – are quickly converging to a more prevalent hybrid of mixed-source. 

 

  • SAP’s active role in open source – including a 10-year history of Linux support, the LinuxLab in Walldorf, our support for OpenOffice and the Open Document Format, support for Mozilla Firefox in SAP applications, the fact that SAP GUI for Java runs on Linux (and Windows, Mac OSX, Solaris, AIX, HP-UX…), SAP Ventures investments in open source start-ups, SAP’s role as a founding member of Eclipse + our high activity in several Eclipse projects + code contributions to Eclipse.

 

  • SAP’s reasons for strong activity in open source (grounded in customer benefit) and our criteria for determining when to support, integrate, and/or contribute to open source organizations and projects. 

 

  •  Also our “best of both worlds” mixed source strategy in order to best meet the needs of our SAP customers – who are different enough to represent every industry, in just about every country of the world, of all company sizes (SML), with a range of strategies, and at various stages of maturity in their company’s lifecycle.
The Presentation Slides:

If you’d like to learn more about SAP and open source, here’s the link to my OSMB keynote presentation in the SCN library. 

Questions or Comments?

If you have questions or comments, feel free to share them here … and be sure to poke around the “Standards & Open Source” section of the SAP Community Network. 

Special Thanks:

The real experts on open source, technology standards, business / industry standards are the members of our Standards Management & Strategy team at SAP.  For the subject of open source covered in this presentation and at this conference (and which they work on diligently throughout the year at SAP), Claus von Riegen and Erwin Tenhumberg are the go-to guys.  Thanks to them and their in-depth preparation of me beforehand, my presentation seemed to resonate with the conference attendees. 

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2 Comments

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  1. Christopher Young
    Mark,
    Thanks for posting the summary of your presentation and discussion from the OSMB conference in Nuremburg last week.  It is an excellent overview of open source, of the blurring of lines between open source and closed source, and SAP’s current approach to open source.  As you know, I too see large value in leveraging the “wisdom of the crowds” and mixed sourcing, played out in our scaling up B2BSX, the customer to customer, custom SAP development exchange. 
    Chris Young
    co-founder, B2BSX, http://www.B2BSX.com 
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  2. Richard Hirsch
    As a member of the ESME team, I just wanted to say thanks for providing an ecosystem that nurtures open-source innovation. Although we’ve expanded beyond the ecosystem (Apache, etc), we are still firmly rooted in this community and feel that there is still great potential to use this environment to promote open-source-related activities that will benefit SAP, customers and partners.

    I thought your slides also provided an excellent overview of the changing character of open-source software as it matures and becomes more relevant to corporations.

    D.

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