November 11, 2005
Shai on Open Source - don't touch the code!
Shai Agassi, president of the product and technology group at SAP, gave his (really?) views on Open Source at a speaking event yesterday. According to the report, Shai said that "Open Source will fail to deliver innovation and is more likely to break applications". Another quote from the CIO-today article: "Open source is great for debugging, but it's crucial not to touch [the code]."
There are plenty of comments floating round the blogosphere and instead of the unavoidable SAP/Shai bashing - the real question should be how the Open Source community can work with SAP (and vice-versa) so that customers profit regardless of which choice they make. Open Source is about adding to the choice a corporation has when considering what sort of IT solution it wants to deploy. No company is going to throw out SAP tomorrow and run with an Open Source ERP product. But small companies, who don't have the resources to tackle an SAP installation can choose to go with an Open Source solution because it's "good enough" for what they need.
Shai should be actively talking to the Open Source community on how the two worlds can be integrated for everyone's profit.
Update: Jeff Nolan with some comments. I also changed the title of the post to "Shai on Open Source" as I don't really think those views (if stated correctly) stand for everyone at SAP (thanks Frank).
Another update: Shai Agassi writes on his own blog.
Posted by Matthew at November 11, 2005 10:38 AM
As far as Linux and open source as a platform, SAP definitely "gets it", just as Oracle and others do. I had some contact with their Linux team in 2000, when I was with Linuxcare, and they had some bright guys who understood Linux very well, and saw the value in it for their firm.
With regards to an open source ERP, to me it looks like a field ripe for a "disruptive technology" to start stealing some of the low hanging fruit.
Posted by: David Welton at November 11, 2005 01:09 PM
I would really like to know what the context of his remarks were. I find it hard to believe that this is supposed to be a general remark - especially watching how open source is being used more and more to enhance the usefulness of SAP, or even to make Netweaver a more attractive development platform. Then again, Shai's remarks on PHP being "just for college students" were followed by SAP Ventures' investment in Zend.
Posted by: Frank Koehntopp at November 11, 2005 01:53 PM
I think Shai's comments should be taken with a grain of salt, though it is true that SAP has had an up-and-down relationship with open source over the past year or two. SAP was early with MySQL and gets Linux but, like any big company, has multiple heads, some of which don't like open source. This is normal.
I know they've struggled with "open source" in the past two years, even while being an active supporter of Linux (and LinuxWorld). Torsten Geers (Head of SAP's Open Source Office - the fact that they have one says a lot about how seriously we should take Shai's comments) and Frank Vitte are both excellent representatives of SAP's "happy about open source" face. Shai may have momentarily represented the "unhappy about open source" crowd (and in a company the size of SAP, with the revenue stream deriving from proprietary products that it does, of course there must be a large group of anti-open source people), but SAP's long-term support for open source is not in doubt. At least, not to me.
Posted by: Matt Asay at November 11, 2005 03:12 PM
But he isn't sharing it with everyone, this is all I get:
Portal Runtime Error
An exception occurred while processing a request for :
iView : pcd:portal_content/SDN/Roles/com.sap.sdn.roles.folder.sdn20/com.sap.sdn.anonymous/com.sap.sdn.weblogs/com.sap.sdn.content.homepage.iview.weblogs
Component Name : com.sap.sdn.weblogs.Weblogs
The exception was logged. Inform your system administrator..
Exception id: 12:36_12/11/05_0030
See the details for the exception ID in the log file
Posted by: Armin at November 12, 2005 01:33 PM
Works for me Armin:
Posted by: Matthew Langham at November 12, 2005 01:47 PM