SAP: Love those developers, hate that open source

Enterprise software giant SAP is making a renewed push to build ties to the developer community, but that enthusiasm isn't likely to extend to making the source code for any of its core components available.Speaking at Sapphire, the company's Asia-Pacific user conference, executive board member Shai Agassi boasted that the company's SAP Developer Network site had attracted 50,000 members since launching in September last year.

Enterprise software giant SAP is making a renewed push to build ties to the developer community, but that enthusiasm isn't likely to extend to making the source code for any of its core components available.

Speaking at Sapphire, the company's Asia-Pacific user conference, executive board member Shai Agassi boasted that the company's SAP Developer Network site had attracted 50,000 members since launching in September last year. By the end of the year, the company hopes to have 150,000 registered developers.

While those numbers might be a drop in the ocean compared to more widely deployed enterprise technologies such as J2EE, Agassi, who heads up the company's platform development efforts, argues that their overall impact will be greater.

"Comparing the amount of money that people make with Java versus the amount of money that our developers will make with NetWeaver, I actually think we have about the same gravity," he told Builder AU in an interview.

SAP's developer push comes as it aggressively promotes its NetWeaver platform as a base for building and extending applications.

"SAP has more app servers than IBM and BEA put together," Agassi told the 2,000 attendees at the conference in Brisbane. "The problem is we've never sold one of them."

However, SAP has no plans to follow the lead of BEA, CA or Sun in making elements of its technology available as open source.

"It's not in our plans," Agassi said, arguing that open source only makes sense with commoditised and interchangeable elements. "Databases are completely interchangeable, but not platforms. The J2EE part, absolutely . . . but if you look at the NetWeaver stack, J2EE is maybe 5 or 7 percent of the whole stack."

After initial scepticism, the enterprise IT world is slowly recognising the benefits of open source. Last month, BEA released elements of its WebLogic Studio platform in an open source project known as Beehive, while CA announced plans to make the code for its Ingres database available. Sun is also reported to be considering making elements of Solaris available as open source.

Angus Kidman travelled to Sapphire as a guest of SAP.