As can be read here, SAP is increasing its participation in the Eclipse open source project. SAP’s raise of the membership level at the Eclipse Foundation is just one example of this increasing participation.
SAP is one of the founding members of the Eclipse Foundation and started as a so-called “Strategic Consumer”. Now SAP decided to raise the membership level to “Strategic Developer”, meaning that SAP will have at least 8 developers assigned full time to the Eclipse project.
So what will these 8 or more developers do? If you’re following the news around Eclipse you might have already noticed that SAP joined, co-initiated or proposed new projects at Eclipse. For example, SAP co-initiated the new Eclipse GIT Team Provider (EGit) project where a few of the initial committers will come from SAP as the following quote from the project proposal shows:
- Robin Rosenberg (Dewire AB)
- Shawn Pearce (Google)
- Gunnar Wagenknecht
- Mik Kersten (Tasktop)
- Matthias Sohn (SAP AG)
- Christian Halstrick (SAP AG)
- Stefan Lay (SAP AG)
Another area where SAP is planning to contribute to the Eclipse project is the proposed new project Pave. In case you don’t know yet, what Pave will be about, here is a quote from the project proposal:
“The objective of the Pave project is to create an extensible framework, which supports the following use cases:
- Enable PDE developers to define new patterns.
- Allow reusing of existing operations and their UI in patterns.
- Provide a single point of entry for all patterns based on a contextual input.
- Manage enablement of patterns – make available only patterns that are applicable to the current object given as input.
- Manage validation within patterns and operations – enable overriding existing validations and add new validations.
- Enable data sharing between the operations within a single pattern – the output data of previous operations should be matched to the input data of the following operations, where possible.
- Allow creation of complex patterns – composition of patterns.
- Allow contribution of UI elements to the patterns: wizard pages, dialog boxes, etc.
- Enable headless execution of patterns.
- Define a pattern that generates a skeleton for creating a new pattern.
- Define patterns that exemplify the usage of the framework. If any of these patterns fit better in the scope of an existing Eclipse project, then they may be moved to that project later.”
Another Eclipse project SAP gives Equinox a closer look is the Eclipse Equinox project. The Eclipse Dash project provides nice metrics and graphs illustrating SAP’s past and current contributions to various Eclipse projects. Looking at the data you will get reminded that SAP has already made a number of contributions to the Eclipse Data Tools Project (DTP) and the Eclipse Web Tools Platform Project (WTP). Eclipse WTP is also one of the examples where SAP has a leading role, i.e. Kaloyan Raev from SAP is the project lead of the WTP EJB Tools project. Another example is the Eclipse Memory Analyzer (MAT) project which is led by Andreas Buchen from SAP and is based on SAP’s initial code contribution in 2007.
SAP also tries to mingle with peer Eclipse developers from other companies in order to improve collaboration and to make new friends. The recent Eclipse DemoCamp Walldorf Videos – Part 1 was the first Eclipse DemoCamp on SAP premises and immediately turned out to be a huge success. It looks like the DemoCamp in Walldorf was the largest DemoCamp ever with almost 200 attendees. We got This was the Eclipse DemoCamp in Walldorf as well as from the blogosphere.
I guess SAP’s Eclipse story illustrates how many software and hardware vendors as well as enterprises get involved in open source. Initially SAP was mostly a consumer of the open source Eclipse technology which is also reflected in the initial membership status at the Eclipse Foundation. However, now that SAP has become more familiar and more comfortable with the Eclipse Foundation and the various Eclipse projects, SAP is also increasingly participating and contributing. Therefore, I personally agree with Matt Asay that open source foundations are a great way to increase open source participation over time and to also guarantee the long-term viability of open source projects.
Since SAP’s participation is only one aspect of SAP’s involvement in open source, let me also give a quick overview about other areas where SAP has been or is supporting open source. Actually, if you haven’t seen it before, you might want to take a look at Open Source Meets Business – Postlude earlier this year. As Mark points out in his slides, SAP was one of the first supporters of Linux and thus helped to built up Linux’ credibility as an operating system for the datacenter and also encouraged other vendors of enterprise software to support Linux as well.
Another Linux-related fact that many people don’t know is that SAP was one of the investors in Red Hat before Red Hat’s IPO. Read for example the following quote from this article:
“A major commercial-grade supplier of Linux scores a chunk of investment dollars from Germany’s leading software company. SAP today announced an equity investment of an undisclosed amount by the SAP Venture Fund in Red Hat Software, adding more support to the Linux bandwagon and the open source movement.”
Talking about SAP’s past and current investments in open source companies, many people also don’t know that SAP was one of the investors in MySQL AB before it got acquired by Sun Microsystems as this press release illustrates:
“MySQL AB has said that the company has completed an $18.5 million Series C round of financing led by Institutional Venture Partners (IVP), the Menlo Park, California-based venture capital firm. Corporate investors in the round were Intel Capital; Red Hat; SAP Ventures, a division of SAP AG; and Presidio STX, the U.S.-based venture investment subsidiary of Sumitomo Corporation.”
However, that does not mean the SAP, or SAP Ventures to be more acurate, stopped investing in open source companies. Current investments by SAP Ventures in open source companies include Alfresco, JasperSoft and ZEND as well as Intalio and GroundWork. Thus, SAP is influencing the open source ecosystem quite a bit through its investments.
Finally, as Mark Yolton also pointed out in his OSMB keynote presentation, SAP is supporting open source technologies like Firefox and OpenOffice.org. If you want to see what this support for OpenOffice.org looks like, check out OpenOffice.org / ODF Support in SAP Software.