Getting in front of open source and defying it is like getting in front of a freight train. But SAP has little choice.
Battered by a growing open source threat (mySQL, Ingres) on the one hand and an emboldened Oracle (buying PeopleSoft and Seibel) on the other, executives like Shai Agassi (right), president of the company's product and technology group, are in the position of the lawyer who has neither the facts nor the law on his side.
The only solution is to pound the table.
In a speech in San Francisco this week, he compared called open source "intellectual property socialism," said code should never be tampered with, and said if his company supported open source it would have no incentive to innovate.
Good rhetoric, but will it work? Doubtful. Companies don't buy rhetoric, they don't install rhetoric. They buy and install solutions. They look to things like Total Cost of Ownership. Scaled open source projects may still be vulnerable there, because most have not yet scaled. But they are scaling, fast, and no matter how fast SAP sails the community, together, is sailing faster.
Agassi also called Oracle names, names like "pirate." But it's actually SAP that should be the pirate right now, stealing enterprise customers who must transition now out of the products Oracle bought, and are thus vulnerable to a sound sales pitch.
But rather than report or criticize, I'm interested in your view. If you're an enterprise customer, what do you see and fear over the next 3-5 years, and what are you doing about it?