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Simon Phipps 4 phases of Open Source adoption – What phase is SAP in?

Simon Phipps is chief open source officer of Sun Microsystems. In the FLOSS Weekly 39 he talks about Open Source and business. I want to point especially on his 4 phases of Open Source adoption. Starting at 56:30 he talks about this 4 stages a business has to go through as they become Open Source Business:

  1. Willingness to collaborate with their friends and customers i.e. the SAP ERP ABAP source code
  2. Be completely open but in terms of a license. Busy on knit picking every line of a license and trying to work out perfect licenses.
  3. Realising that code is king and that the license doesn’t matter so much as long as the code gets written and gets written fast and well.
  4. Community is king. So not the original author has to write and control all the code. It’s actually the community where all the benefits which make you successful gonna come from.

So in what stage does SAP and the SAP Community Network is currently in? I think clearly SAP is committed to provide their customers access to the source code which runs their business. Perhaps it’s a little bit less open on the Java side of NetWeaver as far as I know that as an ABAPer. SAP is working on the second step by introducing a so called Community Licence and has discussions going on with the Not authorized to view the specified document 7840 on that topic. Perhaps it would be better to skip that step and directly go to a already existing licence where everyone is familiar with. Because I think that the community is already there as you can see from the amount of users here in SCN or also in the list of ABAP Projects on Google code.

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  • Hi Gregor
    you touch a sensitive point. There is not that point one that you say. every customer writing it “own” abap program grant ownership of that code to SAP. I think owner of every abap code in the world is SAP. That is not openess, it’s very very propietary. Could you imagine SUN claiming ownership of every java code ? I think open source in ABAP is just an ilusion.
    • Hi Ignacio,

      I remember that some time ago I’ve signed a document that SAP has the first right to buy a custom developed solution. But I haven’t found a document on the Service Marketplace like “Developer License”. Can anyone provide a link?

      Best regards

  • Hi Gregor and others:

    Here’s a link to a blog I wrote earlier this year after speaking in Nuremberg Germany at the “Open Source Meets Business” conference.  It outlines my talk and links to my presentation.  /people/mark.yolton/blog/2009/02/06/open-source-meets-business–postlude

    Here is a link to the “Open Source” section on SDN, which has a lot of information on this topic.

    Best regards,
    Mark Yolton

  • This reminds me of the old-skool mentality behind the CBT Tape ( ) and sharing of Assembler code in MVS and DOS.  At the time I was involved, IBM supplied the source code to their operating systems and sub systems, so it was Open Source (but not Free).  This is similar to the ABAP situation today; I can see how SAP programms certain functionality.

    In both scenarios, you use any resource to get your own functionality working (including ‘research’ of vendor supplied code).  The issue arises when there’s only one sensible way of coding something; an example would where you want to replicate SAP code elsewhere, but can’t use a module or class.

    In the CBT example, if you took code from an IBM routine and used it in your code, there wasn’t anything IBM could (realistically) do about it.  Sharing your code, that contained pieces of IBM code, was pretty much accepted, as long as you acknowledged where the code came from – as much for documentation for future maintainers as for legal reasons.  This worked nicely (until it became irrelevant due to IBM not shipping source code any more), because both IBM and the community were reasonable about what they did.

    I’d suggest a similar approach by us (the customer) and SAP would make great sense. Apart from the legality of using SAP code in your own projects(as above, pretty much unstoppable by SAP),  when it comes to sharing, you sort out with your employer whether its theirs or not, and whether it should be shared.  And go ahead and do it !!  SAP benefit because Customers get better examples of how to do things.