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SAP — Open Source Friend Or Foe ?

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the beer-more-than-speech dept.

Linux Business 155

pavithran writes "Does SAP, one of the largest business companies offering software solutions, support FOSS as a movement? Why is SAP looking at closed and open source in a similar way? This shows lot of ambiguity in SAP's attitude towards open source software. I found an interesting article in Linux Journal on whether SAP is an open source friend or foe, by Glyn Moody. Here's a quote from the article: 'For an outfit that calls itself "the world's largest business software company," the German software giant SAP is relatively little-known in the open source world. With 51,500 employees, a turnover of 11.5 billion euros ($16 billion) last year, and operating profits of 2.7 billion euros ($3.8 billion), SAP is clearly one of the heavyweights in the computer world. Given that huge clout, SAP's attitude to open source is important; and yet it is hard to tell whether it is really free software's friend or its foe. ... A company that wished open source well would back these ideas. One that really supported free software would also fight against software patents. So, while SAP's involvement in Eclipse and investment in open source companies is welcome — and pretty self-interested, it has to be said, given that it presumably hopes to make a profit on them — it's not really enough cancel out its unhelpful attitude and statements elsewhere. If it wants to be a serious, respected player in the world of open source, as befits its size, it must do better.'"

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SAP just knows that Linux and FOSS suck (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28311897)

Linux just isn't ready for the desktop yet. It may be ready for the web servers that you nerds use to distribute your TRON fanzines and personal Dungeons and Dragons web-sights across the world wide web, but the average computer user isn't going to spend months learning how to use a CLI and then hours compiling packages so that they can get a workable graphic interface to check their mail with, especially not when they already have a Windows machine that does its job perfectly well and is backed by a major corporation, as opposed to Linux which is only supported by a few unemployed nerds living in their mother's basement somewhere. The last thing I want is a level 5 dwarf (haha) providing me my OS.

Answer: Publicly Traded Company (4, Insightful)

linumax (910946) | more than 5 years ago | (#28311921)

That is all.

Or just stupid. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28312217)

"SAP -- Open Source Friend Or Foe?"

Neither. "Sap" is a slang word for "stupid person". Any company that calls itself that is too foolish to be either a friend or a foe.

Re:Or just stupid. (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 5 years ago | (#28314687)

They also don't seem to define what SAP stands for on their own site, so why should slashdot?

Acronym Finder has 7 pages of results [acronymfinder.com] for SAP.

I tagged this story !secondaudioprogram.

(Wikipedia says it stands for Systeme, Anwendungen und Produkte in der Datenverarbeitung ("Systems, Applications and Products in Data Processing").)

Re:Answer: Publicly Traded Company (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28312241)

Bingo. Whose side is SAP on? SAP's.

The question for the Open Source Community is how should Open Source relate to structurally self-interested entities? While the article's enumeration of SAP's relationship with Open Source is a useful starting point for discussion, framing the discussion as "Friend or Foe" is a misleading oversimplification.

Re:Answer: Publicly Traded Company (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 5 years ago | (#28312901)

Bingo. Whose side is SAP on? SAP's.

Red Hat is publically traded as well, does the same apply to them? See, the lines are not always so clear.

Re:Answer: Publicly Traded Company (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28313067)

Red Hat supports the development of FOSS as far as it makes them and their stockholders money. If you think they are supporting FOSS out of altruism or due to some worshiping at the Altar of GNU then you're naive.

Re:Answer: Publicly Traded Company (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28314867)

Short answer, Yes.

Re:Answer: Publicly Traded Company (5, Insightful)

WinterSolstice (223271) | more than 5 years ago | (#28313319)

SAP has a track record of acting in only their own immediate term interest.

For years, SAP was best buddies with Oracle - then they switched to being best buddies with IBM. Then they bought Adabase and made that atrocity that is SAPDB.
Which they sold to MySQL.
Which is now spun off yet again.
Some products were Windows only for a very long time, and the GUI still is for the most part. The Java GUI is multi-platform, but still missing stuff.

As a long term SAP admin (basis) and DBA, the only thing you can count on from SAP is random acts of chaotic self-interest.
They don't play Friend or Foe, they just play Best Buddy of the Moment.

Re:Answer: Publicly Traded Company (1)

Narpak (961733) | more than 5 years ago | (#28313791)

I agree. SAP, like most, probably evaluate Open Source products and try to see how they can use it to advance their own bottom line. I would argue that if they decide that one or more products can be used in a way that they find helpful or profitable; they will use them; if they don't; they will not. Not everything is either or "friend or foe". Outside a few core groups most people do not engage these matters as some sort of ideological competition; but rather try to find real world value in a product or service that they can benefit from. In this matter SAP is no different. And I would argue that trying to artificially create or impose "Us Vs Them" dichotomies is, as you say, oversimplification; and to some extend counter-productive as some of us find that sort of simplistic argument distasteful.

Re:Answer: Publicly Traded Company (1)

Tanktalus (794810) | more than 5 years ago | (#28313105)

Redhat. Novell. IBM. Sun, Oracle. Microsoft. SCO.

I'm not sure that "publicly traded" is definitive on either side of the issue. Probably more to do with whether the business has the smarts to figure out how to make OSS work for them rather than against them. With SAP so tied to HP, I'm not sure they care. If their customers started demanding Linux versions such that Linux was their most profitable platform, I'm sure we'd hear different.

Re:Answer: Publicly Traded Company (1)

bertoelcon (1557907) | more than 5 years ago | (#28314873)

You forgot Google.

I love the black and white thinking here.... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28311927)

You must be a friend or foe, you can't be neutral on the subject. I prefer to use Linux without the dogma attached it it.

It's non-starter.

I had the same reaction (4, Insightful)

Presto Vivace (882157) | more than 5 years ago | (#28311971)

Why can't a company use FOSS when it is appropriate and proprietary when it suits their customers best? Software should not be a religious issue.

Re:I had the same reaction (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28312015)

Simple. Non-free software is unethical.

Re:I had the same reaction (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28312107)

No, you (or anyone else) deciding how I license and distribute my software is unethical.

Don't force your "ethics" on me.

Re:I had the same reaction (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#28312185)

Come see the violence inherent in the system!

Re:I had the same reaction (1)

Narpak (961733) | more than 5 years ago | (#28313813)

Help! Help! I am being repressed!

Re:I had the same reaction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28312915)

Stupid argument at most, like the other way around : what are you doing to me, deciding how you license and distribute your software ?

That's right : you force your "ethics" on me, morron.

It's not about ethics : it's a question of noumenon vs phenomenon, about raw nature of things - culture and knowledge belong to stricly nobody. How could something immaterial belong to anybody ? Closed-source and non-free software are stupid nouns because of that : nothing more, nothing less. Try to protect your thoughts, if you show them to anyone, this will not prevent them from copying it.

Re:I had the same reaction (2)

Tranzistors (1180307) | more than 5 years ago | (#28313237)

No, you (or anyone else) deciding how I license and distribute my software is unethical.

Yes, it is unethical, but no one is deciding how to licence your software but you. However, I do not see ethical problems in frowning upon software license that is hostile (towards free/open source community in this case).

Don't force your "ethics" on me.

American, aren't ya? If my ethics says "killing cows for food and stuff is bad", it might bit over the top to toss buckets of blood at diners in steak restaurant.
However, if it is more like "thou shall not deceive", I find it perfectly reasonable to be mad at lying politicians.

You see, this is more of a matter of common good (what was it about freedoms and where they meet?). If SAP is somehow hurting people, we should find it out and react accordingly.

Re:I had the same reaction (2, Insightful)

digsbo (1292334) | more than 5 years ago | (#28314917)

I'm not sure if they're hurting everyone, but I know SAP is hurting their customers by charging enormous amounts of money for poorly implemented systems that give the PHBs in Finance the illusion of control, while simultaneously hindering anyone actually trying to accomplish anything productive. Yes, I've used their stuff.

Re:I had the same reaction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28313431)

If we could copy food and feed the world, I'd say it would be unethical not to do so.

Uh, nobody is (0)

toby (759) | more than 5 years ago | (#28315273)

I had hoped this thread would elicit some intelligent comments about SAP MaxDB (which they open sourced some time ago), but here we are with the perennial boring anti-GPL trolling.

If you don't like the GPL, don't license your code with it! The rest of us who do, do it because we want to.

Re:I had the same reaction (0, Troll)

gnupun (752725) | more than 5 years ago | (#28312379)

Simple. Non-free software is unethical.

It's the other way around, OSS is unethical because it destroys software business, reducing/eliminating income of business owners and programmers. There is nothing unethical about demanding payment for software when the consumer of the software is gaining some benefit from using it.

Re:I had the same reaction (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28312581)

Simple. Non-free software is unethical.

What kind of "free" do you mean?

Totally free, or GNU "free-with-conditions".

Because once you start attaching conditions like the GPL does, it's not totally free anymore, now is it?

Re:I had the same reaction (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 5 years ago | (#28315301)

GNU is much like society, a set of tradeoffs to ensure fairness.

You will never have true freedom, because a few people will abuse the system and take away freedoms from everyone else... For instance in a totally free society, a warlord or dictator will seize power by force. Thus we have a society where some things are made illegal, so that the remaining freedoms are available to everyone.

Software is much the same, if you give total freedom then a few will abuse that, they will take the open software and close it up, and try to get people locked in to the closed versions so they can effectively blackmail them for more money.

Re:I had the same reaction (0, Troll)

FOSSLoverGNUHater (1575547) | more than 5 years ago | (#28312207)

Because under the Church of GNU, as the disciple who responded to you above shows, there can be no heresy against the proclamations of Pope Stallman I.

Re:I had the same reaction (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#28312265)

You must be knew here.

Re:I had the same reaction (2, Funny)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 5 years ago | (#28312413)

Why can't a company use FOSS when it is appropriate and proprietary when it suits their customers best? Software should not be a religious issue.

      HERETIC! Burn him!

Re:I had the same reaction (2, Insightful)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 5 years ago | (#28312471)

And it never is, ever.

What it /is/, however, is an ideological issue, always. Your software ideology, for example, is that a company should use FOSS where appropriate and propriety when it suits their customers best.

Re:I had the same reaction (1)

IRWolfie- (1148617) | more than 5 years ago | (#28313133)

Why can't a company use FOSS when it is appropriate and proprietary when it suits their customers best? Software should not be a religious issue.

when it Suits their customers best? I thin you mean when it suits themselves best.

Re:I had the same reaction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28315003)

BECAUSE then they are a SERPENT which has been nurished on the BOSOM of the OSS GNU LINUX MOVEMENT.

Re:I had the same reaction (0)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 5 years ago | (#28315325)

It is extremely rare that proprietary suits the customers best... Being locked in is not good for the customer, depending on a single supplier is not good for the customer, having to pay for each copy is not good for the customer, not being able to customize it is not good for the customer, simply not having the source code is not good for the customer... Proprietary is pretty much only best for the vendor selling it.

FOSS is a movement alright (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28312193)

.. a bowel movement of a constipated chiptard

Re:I love the black and white thinking here.... (1)

iPhr0stByt3 (1278060) | more than 5 years ago | (#28312199)

Insightful? I thought he was making fun of the article's seriousless when all SAP really supports is making money... like EVERY OTHER PUBLIC COMPANY.

Re:I love the black and white thinking here.... (1)

Sasayaki (1096761) | more than 5 years ago | (#28312411)

Well, the "With us or against us" binary logic that served Bush throughout his presidency didn't end up doing him much good at the end. Hopefully this kind of rot will go the same way- useful as a simplification early on, but ultimately revealed as flawed and unproductive.

Re:I love the black and white thinking here.... (5, Funny)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 5 years ago | (#28312517)

Besides, it's obvious that SAP's real enemy is its users.

Re:I love the black and white thinking here.... (2, Interesting)

rbrausse (1319883) | more than 5 years ago | (#28313119)

why is this modded as "funny"? I lost ~ 20 years of my life with roll-outs of SAP R/3 in hospitals...

[but I have to admit, the software is impressive. only the human kind is not sophisticated enough to handle this monster]

Re:I love the black and white thinking here.... (2, Insightful)

WinterSolstice (223271) | more than 5 years ago | (#28313349)

Because there isn't a +5 "Freaking sad but true" mod.

Re:I love the black and white thinking here.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28312865)

Not when it comes to politics. Generally I share your pragmatic approach and don't care about what most other companies think of open source.
But big Players like SAP have quite a notable influence on politics, especially on topics like software patents.
Here in Germany, I have the impression that many politicians only care about the interests of the big companies and forget about the rest of the business. When a company like SAP would clearly oppose to software patents because they are a threat to open source, politicians would listen.

It's *SAP* (2, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#28312959)

I agree the question is stupid, but for a different reason. We're talking about SAP. Whether you are in the FOSS or Closed Source camp doesn't matter. If you are on the side of sanity, then SAP is your foe. It's that simple.

Re:It's *SAP* (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28314183)

In a number of industries you are highly likely to end up as a SAP customer simply because most credible packages for doing what you do run on top of it, for example in the casino business.

Re:I love not R'ing TFA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28313361)

By "this" of course you mean the summary, because you (along with all the other posts I see on the same subject) obviously haven't RTFA.

The main thrust of the article is not that SAP is not "doing enough for open source", but rather that while trying to derive positive PR from their contributions to Open Source SAP is at the same time working AGAINST Open source's interests by arguing against mandating use of Open Source in government procuring and for strengthening software patentability.

Re:I love the black and white thinking here.... (1)

jeffasselin (566598) | more than 5 years ago | (#28314227)

I had exactly the same reaction. As if no one can have mixed feelings about something: "you're either with us or against us!". I refuse to participate in such pointless debates, as it is clear the initiator has no intention of actually discussing the matter rationally, and is most likely either stupid, fanatic, or ignorant.

FOSS Zealotry at its finest (4, Insightful)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 5 years ago | (#28311983)

If Open Source is a Movement, you should see a proctologist. SAP doesn't need to be a friend nor a foe to it. They can and should be indifferent, as should 99.9999999999% of the world.

The ideology is simply unimportant in the grand scheme of things. Only zealots feel a need to paint everyone in black and white.

Re:FOSS Zealotry at its finest (4, Insightful)

msuarezalvarez (667058) | more than 5 years ago | (#28312163)

The ideology is simply unimportant in the grand scheme of things.

That is false both in this context and in all contexts.

Re:FOSS Zealotry at its finest (1)

Saiyine (689367) | more than 5 years ago | (#28312529)

That is false both in this context and in all contexts.

Yep, it would be really interesting if it was true in this context and false in all contexts!

Re:FOSS Zealotry at its finest (1)

ToasterMonkey (467067) | more than 5 years ago | (#28315293)

The ideology is simply unimportant in the grand scheme of things.

That is false both in this context and in all contexts.

Well, I guess that would depend on your definition of "grand scheme of things" wouldn't it?
Your ideology is not important to mine, for example.

I could say a particular religion is unimportant in the grand scheme of things too, and have many supporters.
I could even say religion in general is unimportant in the grand scheme of things, and drown in a thousand reasons why hundreds of religions are important to hundreds of different grand schemes, all mutually exclusive.

Ideals are like this, they come and go, existing only in our minds, twisted around an immutable reality.

Re:FOSS Zealotry at its finest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28313005)

The ideology is simply unimportant in the grand scheme of things. Only zealots feel a need to paint everyone in black and white.
--
Without the Death Penalty there can be no justice.

Some people just use freedom and democracy as a tool for their own goal, but sheesh, the ideology of freedom is not unimportant!

OSS is not a religion to everyone (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28312007)

To some people FOSS is just software to get work done. So they use it where they see fit. They contribute where they see benefit. But they don't sacrafice themselve to the holy crusade of FOSS.

Actually I would say this is how FOSS should work. If FOSS would have to rely on the altruism of companies it would be doomed. I don't think it is.

Re:OSS is not a religion to everyone (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 5 years ago | (#28313089)

To some people FOSS is just software to get work done. So they use it where they see fit. They contribute where they see benefit. But they don't sacrafice themselve to the holy crusade of FOSS.

I would say that's probably a fair share of even FOSS developers. The stereotypical lone developer working to "scratch his own itch" is only developing and contributing where he sees some kind of benefit.

But lots of people who are enamored with FOSS seem not to recognize that a lot of the development on major projects comes from paid developers working at companies like Google, IBM, Novell, and Redhat. Those companies are "friends" to FOSS, but at the same time, they're contributing to areas where they see benefit. They're profiting from sales of products and services that use FOSS, and they contribute funds and code for the purpose of improving the capabilities of the products and services they sell. There's nothing nefarious about it, but that's just where a lot of the funding and code comes from.

So some other company doesn't contribute as much, but they also don't benefit as much or as directly from ongoing development. So what? Forgetting everything I wrote in the preceding paragraphs, here's something else to consider: none of these FOSS licenses prevent you from leeching. There's not a clause in the GPL that says you have to contribute in any way in order to make use of the software, or even to distribute the software. The developers who license their software under the GPL have knowingly given the entire world full permission to leech off of their work. If they don't like those terms, then they picked the wrong license.

Re:OSS is not a religion to everyone (1)

Narpak (961733) | more than 5 years ago | (#28313903)

here's something else to consider: none of these FOSS licenses prevent you from leeching. There's not a clause in the GPL that says you have to contribute in any way in order to make use of the software, or even to distribute the software. The developers who license their software under the GPL have knowingly given the entire world full permission to leech off of their work.

One could even argue that the more their software is used, even if the majority of use is "leeching", if would still benefit since increased usage would potentially mean more people that would consider active participation. Even if 99% of all new users are leeching that would still mean 1% that contribute; the larger the total number of users the larger the participating group would be. Not to mention that no one would consider contributing to a project that none at all wanted to use.

Friend or FOE (0, Redundant)

Decameron81 (628548) | more than 5 years ago | (#28312009)

So SAP is either with the Open Source movement or against it? Reminds me of Bush. You know, we would do much better if we realized there ARE shades of grey between black and white.

Re:Friend or FOE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28312301)

There are even lots of colors between black and white. And most people love them.

It's pretty simple (4, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28312011)

SAP support Open Source in any tool that allows them to develop and interact with their product.
The gnomes of SAP will never open SAP up.

If you have ever looked at SAP structure or code you don't want that box open~

Re:It's pretty simple (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28312181)

But the nice thing with SAP is that you can look at the code. They ship their sources to all the customers. I know many so called big open souce supporting companies that don't ship the sources of their products.

Re:It's pretty simple (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28312215)

True. But seriously, that craps a mess.

Re:It's pretty simple (1)

sunking2 (521698) | more than 5 years ago | (#28312467)

They aren't shipping it to be nice. They are shipping because they make tons of money off of the consulting and training that is an offshoot of every business wanting to tweak it. It's all about miling the customer come upgrade time.

Re:It's pretty simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28312885)

So they ship it with source, and the customers can modify it? So SAP is already an open source company. A much more limited open source than anything with a BSD or GPL license I assume, but the customers get exactly what they need to do their thing with the software.

Except for the training, which costs extra.

Re:It's pretty simple (2, Insightful)

sunking2 (521698) | more than 5 years ago | (#28313195)

No, they aren't open source. You have to buy it from them and are not allowed to distribute/sell your modifications and there are quite a few strings attached to receiving it. The source is simply a product deliverable.

It's similar to the free as in beer argument. Or maybe more accurately the coke dealer giving the first hit free knowing you'll come back for more services. Most consider Open Source an ideology, and SAP certainly does not drink that punch. They are all about generating revenue through providing services. Giving you the source when you buy it opens up the door for providing more services to the customer who now believes because they have the source its a good idea to bastardize it and make future upgrades next to impossible without spending tons of money.

Fair price (1)

happyfeet2000 (1208074) | more than 5 years ago | (#28314913)

I read a lot of complaining about IT being treated and paid like a utility to be used at the lowest possible price, a simple raw material to be imported from wherever it is at the lowest price. Here is a company, SAP, that instead tells its customer to consider its software like an investment, that is, you will pay for it a percentage of the profits it is helping the customer make. They have managed to be payed like management instead of being paid like labor like the majority of IT is. We should take a page from SAPs book.

Re:It's pretty simple (3, Informative)

novasoy (85800) | more than 5 years ago | (#28312587)

Agreed. You don't want to look at your code. ABAP gives me a headache, and the way SAP designs their code.... I guess I'm just not smart enough to follow what's going on after the 20th INCLUDE within an INCLUDE within an INCLUDE. It's poorly documented, and usually the comments [in the code] are in German.

Re:It's pretty simple (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28312775)

Poorly documented? Horrible design? Sounds like SAP really is a buddy with OSS. At minimum they seem to share each other's design methodology!

SAP - What Do They Do? (1, Funny)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#28312161)

What does SAP sell?
I checked their website, and it was filled to the brim with buzz words.

No actual product to buy.
Yet I bet they make billions selling it.

(Yes, I'm trolling)

Re:SAP - What Do They Do? (5, Funny)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 5 years ago | (#28312415)

They let you optimize your business performance with integrated solutions.

I can tell by the generic photos of smiling business people, that they can maximize my ROI with their virtual collaboration packages.

Re:SAP - What Do They Do? (1)

audunr (906697) | more than 5 years ago | (#28314851)

I use SAP every day, and I understand why they don't describe it on their web site in plain text. They should consider burning their source code, not opening it up.

Quoth SAP (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28312271)

Of course open source is our friend. We love OSS and all the money that it can save us. We support and even run lots of Lunix servers ourselves.

What? Open source our code? No! That would be stupid. We'll never do that. That would make OSS our foe and we want to remain friends with OSS.

Group hug :D

As an employee... (4, Interesting)

VorpalRodent (964940) | more than 5 years ago | (#28312293)

I don't have a lot of exposure to the sales side of things. I'm an engineer and will work on support calls as needed. However, I can say that internally, I have not witnessed any sort of stigma against it. We've recommended open source solutions for customers as workarounds for issues and have used open source tools internally where appropriate. Everything I've seen suggests that it is viewed like anything else - a potential tool that our customers may or may not benefit from, if used correctly. We build many products on many variants of Linux (which can be viewed as supporting those customers who support and use open source software).

I admit that it sounds mighty idealistic, but at the same time, like many of the earlier posters, I wholly agree that it is quite possible to take a more neutral stance on the issue. It's not limited to only friends and enemies.

At the same time, I've been involved with discussions with legal ensuring that GPL'd code is not present in software products I am responsible for as a matter of protection of corporate interests.

Re:As an employee... (3, Interesting)

Sasayaki (1096761) | more than 5 years ago | (#28312505)

Everything I've seen suggests that it is viewed like anything else - a potential tool that our customers may or may not benefit from, if used correctly.

This is how all software should be, in my opinion. Creating a zealous movement around it (be that Apple, Linux or Microsoft) does nobody any good. Pieces of software are tools; sometimes you just want a hammer to run games (Windows), sometimes you want a saw to host a web server (Linux), sometimes you want a screwdriver to boost your 'hip' score (Apple).

Use the correct tool and your life will forever be easier. The Free Software Movement is very important and cool, but ultimately when you find a nail you better have a hammer.

Re:As an employee... (2, Insightful)

migla (1099771) | more than 5 years ago | (#28313091)

"Use the correct tool and your life will forever be easier. The Free Software Movement is very important and cool, but"

I bet, that for life to "forever be easier", every tool will have to be a Free tool. In other words, I claim that openness and freedom are necessary components of any ideal (as in perfect) tool.

Granted, we're not there yet, but it's good that some people are ideological and looking into the future.

Re:As an employee... (1)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 5 years ago | (#28314605)

You make some fairly sweeping claims with no backing whatsoever. Care to elaborate in support of your beliefs?

Re:As an employee... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28314121)

Use the correct tool and your life will forever be easier. The Free Software Movement is very important and cool, but ultimately when you find a nail you better have a hammer.

"All tools are hammers, except chisels which are screwdrivers."
-- Handyman's Motto.

However, if F/OSS is about choice in tools then it doesn't sound like SAP's SOP. Have you ever experienced an SAP 'deployment'? It is very black and white. You either do it all SAP's way no matter how hard or you don't do it with any of SAP's stuff at all. (Similar to other companies I could talk about.)

Re:As an employee... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28314159)

The Free Software Movement is very important and cool, but ultimately when you find a nail you better have a hammer.

Without the free software movement, you would end up without any choice but commercial, proprietary software.

Re:As an employee... (1)

rdavidson3 (844790) | more than 5 years ago | (#28314679)

sometimes you just want a hammer

When the only tool you have is a hammer, then all problems start looking like a nail.

Re:As an employee... (2, Insightful)

jchawk (127686) | more than 5 years ago | (#28312735)

Idealistic or not you hit the nail on the head with your post.

Plenty of companies look at software as a tool similar to a hammer or a lathe. Which model or version of the hammer will get the job done for me in the most cost-effective manner.

I work for a large industrial manufacture and we are deploying plenty of Linux right along side HP-UX, Microsoft 2003, AS400 and Mainframe. What tool makes the most sense for the problem we are trying to solve?

I honestly believe the longer you work for a for profit company the more you start to understand the statement "Choose the right tool for the job."

SAP can be friends with both (3, Interesting)

juanergie (909157) | more than 5 years ago | (#28312295)

Every software company benefits from Open Source, whether they'd like to admit it or not. They can peek in the Open Source world and find implementation tricks or functional paradigms and apply them to their products. Maybe even embed some GPL applications into a larger proprietary suite.

I believe SAP will not give up its competitive advantage by fully embracing Open Source if this translates into reduced profits; it does not make economic sense. However, SAP can be supportive (at least non obtrusive) of Open Source to further leverage whatever advantages it may provide and, secondarily, keep the die-hard computer programmers marginally happy.

I do not understand this attitude (3, Insightful)

slashdotlurker (1113853) | more than 5 years ago | (#28312335)

I use open source software extensively in my work. I have also contributed open source code (not all GPL, but a good fraction of it is). I like open source for many things.

However, I do not understand this expectation that software companies should help open source. Microsoft is a special case - it tried to work with hardware vendors to delay the rise of Linux, Openoffice, etc. However, when it comes to pure software competition, a company that makes its living off software (and is not interested in the pure free-software-pay-for-support model than open source encourages) cannot be expected to act against its own financial interests to earn brownie points from the open source crowd.

Sometimes those interests will mandate open source participation. Other times, they won't. Interested in getting them to support open source ? Change market conditions to make it their interest to participate in open source. Open source might be religion to some, but it is simply an instrument for most of us. Pretty good instrument in most cases, but nothing more.

OpenERP (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28312341)

Nice true open source alternative to SAP:
http://openerp.com/

SAP is open source (5, Interesting)

ingo23 (848315) | more than 5 years ago | (#28312353)

Technically speaking, SAP is probably one of the first companies to distribute the source code with their product. Any company that purchased an SAP product gets complete source code for the business application (except for the core, which is more like an OS). One does not even need to apply for access to it, the whole application part is developed in an interpreted language with the source, IDE, and debugger readily available.

The article complains that SAP does not support all the OSS community initiatives (as if nobody in OSS world ever has had any disagreement) and backs software patents.
As a software development company, SAP has no other choice than to hold on to their patent portfolio, even if for defense reasons. I am not saying that SAP will (or have) never sue anyone for patent infringement, but I have not heard of any widely publicized case of them doing so.

Re:SAP is open source (1)

rbrausse (1319883) | more than 5 years ago | (#28313353)

as long as you abandon your support for the changed parts of the software.

yes, you can get a developer access - but SAP don't sells a off-the-shelf-product but services. you should KNOW what you do before you request a developer key

Re:SAP is open source (1)

ingo23 (848315) | more than 5 years ago | (#28313655)

You are talking about modifying the SAP developed code. What was the last time you made your own changes to Apache or Linux kernel source? In the SAP world almost nobody is changing the SAP code, although almost everybody looks at it and uses parts of it. There are multiple ways to customize SAP application without changing their own code, that's one of their strong points.

I am not saying that SAP is an open source product in EFF terms (of course you cannot contribute back). But the source code is openly available to customers to peek into. Unlike most of the software vendors that only give you binaries.

Re:SAP is open source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28313555)

Sorry , but no , altough they distrubute source for some of theyr components.

SAP is the worst shit company ever , ask anyone who have actually worked with that shit , its all about vendor lockin.

if you ever tought ms was bad at theyr worst , they was still second by far to SAP.

avoid that software by any means possible if you dont want to be locked into retarded crap and pay $1000 fee a hour for consultant work.

It's a Mistake... (4, Insightful)

SwashbucklingCowboy (727629) | more than 5 years ago | (#28312417)

... to treat a large company such as SAP as monolithic.

Some inside of SAP will be FOSS friends, some will be foes, some will be neither. It depends upon the individuals involved, their attitudes, roles and the incentives SAP gives them.

Re:It's a Mistake... (3, Insightful)

werfu (1487909) | more than 5 years ago | (#28314163)

Indeed. I work for a multinational consultant firm (27k+ employee) and the official stance on open source isn't for or against either. If FOSS solutions are possible under a situation, that their TCO is less than their closed source equivalents and that the client is open to it, we usualy go the FOSS way. Most often its a mix of it. We use a lot of Java EE. Many Java EE containers use Tomcat as their application server too. We also use extensively Eclipse and customize it for our needs. Anyway... when you get to that size of company you can't have a global thinking against or for FOSS. Heck I know some guys that work at Microsoft that use Linux at home and do open source developpment too!

Heh (1, Offtopic)

hansraj (458504) | more than 5 years ago | (#28312513)

I was about to tag the story "kdawsonsucks" :-D

Re:Heh (0, Offtopic)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 5 years ago | (#28314389)

Believe it or not the same happened to me....untill I saw that Microsoft was not mentioned in the article.

What the hell? (1)

sirwired (27582) | more than 5 years ago | (#28312639)

SAP is in the business of making money, not supporting or not supporting free software. I imagine they support some efforts when it suits their interests (like Eclipse), and oppose others, when it doesn't ("all software should be free".) Of course their participation in open-source is self-interested; they are a business, not a charity. I doubt SAP gives one flying *bleep* about being a "serious, respected player in the world of open source."

SirWired

Re:What the hell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28312763)

But this is Slashdot...

Money == evil

Free == ethical

If you're looking for logic, you're in the wrong place...

open source or free software (paging RMS) (1)

bluescreenbert (1185323) | more than 5 years ago | (#28313059)

> SAP's attitude to open source is important; and yet it is hard to tell whether it is really free software's friend The article publisher does not seem to know enough to tell open source and free software apart. There are very few comanies that endorse free software but many that endorse open source. So, what is the article about? Please call RMS to have the difference between open source and free software explained to you.

Google FOSS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28313125)

Tell Google to open their web search engine source code.

The answer is simple (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28313191)

SAP is nobody's friend. They're the enemy of all mankind.

What do you expect? (0, Flamebait)

imidan (559239) | more than 5 years ago | (#28313213)

Y'know, this kind of article is exactly the reason why we're always having conversations about whether or not Linux (and other FOSS) is ready for general purpose use. Here you have all these open-source advocates, telling anyone who'll listen how great FOSS is, and how it's got this low TCO. That sounds great, but then it turns out there are strings attached. You're a bad FOSS citizen if you're not contributing some completely unquantified amount back to the project. Look, guys, you can't give something away for FREE! and then start laying a guilt trip on whoever took you up on the offer. If you expect X amount of contribution from the users of the software, then you need to move to a licensing model that supports that.

-

This entire, whiny article sounds like the Chotchke's manager trying to get his employees to wear more than 15 pieces of flair. If you have some expectation, then make that expectation known. Don't lie about your expectation. If you expect your employees to wear 37 pieces of flair, then make that expectation clear. If you expect users of your software to contribute in some specific amount, then make that expectation clear. But if you lie about your expectations, don't bitch about it when they aren't met.

Open source == corporations cooperating (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28313483)

Open source projects aren't sponsored because corporations want to support hobbyists or have any altruistic notions about supporting "software freedom". Corporations support open source out of self-interest. Even Sun, up until now what I believe to be the most vocal proponent of open source is only doing so because it suits their business model of bottom-up adoption of their products by developers. None of them contribute to open source so that people like us geeks can get stuff for free out of the kindness of their hearts.

Some companies like Sun are pretty extreme and straightforward about it. At the other extreme are companies that are traditionally downright hostile to open source, like Microsoft. In the mushy middle are companies that some would describe as hypocritical, like IBM and Red Hat, who contribute to the community strategically, but also take and refuse to give. It's in their strategic best interests to build a business model that gives just enough to open source but also withholds enough and take enough to ensure they make a profit. Hand-in-hand with this strategy is the use of patents to prevent open source forks from going too far, which even Sun is guilty of with the IP they have behind Java.

When anybody refers to the open source "community", much of that community is corporations (ex members of the Eclipse Foundation) and individual developers who work for those corporations. It's not a bunch of geeks coding in their basements.

So when SAP is described as perhaps a friend or foe of open source, it means the company is large and complex enough that elements of it view open source as a means of benefiting from inter-corporation cooperation, and others view it as unfair competition for their proprietary products. It also means that they don't have the strategic clarity with regard to open source that Sun, IBM and Red Hat have.

Open source == corporate cooperation (1)

javacowboy (222023) | more than 5 years ago | (#28313775)

No business involves themselves with open source out of idealism or philanthropy. It's all about self-interest.

Here's the continuum of corporations and their open-source philosophies:

1) Sun: Open-source almost all their products, gain developer adoption, get bottom-up adoption in corporations, and then charge for support.
2) IBM/Red Hat: Contribute to the open source community in a large way, but maintain other products that are completely proprietary. Talk up how "pro open source" you are in a massively exaggerated way, unlike Sun that quietly walks the walk.
3) Apple: Open source some stuff, close source most others. Definitely take more from the community that you give.
4) Microsoft: Open source nothing. Publicly slam open source: Proprietary development all the way.

SAP hasn't figured out where it is on the continuum. It's that simple.

Re:Open source == corporate cooperation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28314261)

4) Microsoft: Open source nothing.

False. They have released a number of things under the OSI-approved MS-PL and MS-RL. I'm sure this lying bullshit will get modded up though since it's anti-Microsoft.

Re:Open source == corporate cooperation (1)

javacowboy (222023) | more than 5 years ago | (#28315021)

The point isn't to be an anti-Microsoft troll. It's to illustrate the prototypical anti-open source company is. Unfortunately, due to their tradition anti-open source stance, they're the best example.

I realize that Microsoft is edging closer to 3), which is the Apple view of open source, but I couldn't think of a better example to illustrate the extreme.

case by case (1)

binaryseraph (955557) | more than 5 years ago | (#28313905)

I can't speak about SAP and what they do or do not support. But here is my guess... Open source has its place and time- not every project should be OS, however, for those of us who love programing on our free time, or have ideas about making sotware that would be far more enhanced by contributions by the public, it is great. That's not to say their isnt a money making business solution for OS products as well (various linux flavors for example). From a software corp. standpoint, just giving a 'well wish' might be the proper grounds to play. Sometimes being a little vague or contradictory on your standing is the best choice in the long term (politicians do great at this). In short, I have no doubt these guys are looking at a lot of open source, and maybe waiting to watch the industry evolve and see what other software giants do (aside from trying to squeltch it) But mum is the word.
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