Development / Open Source

If SAP Can Support Developers, Then What are You Waiting For?

12 Jun 2015 10:05am, by

How many of you are from the enterprise applications world? If you are, then words like SAP, SharePoint, SQL Server and Oracle are familiar to you. And if you are like me, your technical comfort with them may be high, but your personal relationship with them is panic-stricken. Not only are these systems old, they seem to encourage and promote the world of waterfall and waste. So you can imagine my surprise when I first discovered SAP’s contributions to the world of open source.

Large companies contributing open source projects to the masses is not a new thing. SAP, with its presence in the open source community, is no different, which is particularly evident with its presence on GitHub. The not-so-secret angel of most of these projects is recruiting. If you have ever attended events like Velocity or Enterprise DevOps, you will be surprised to see Target and Netflix as sponsors. They are not there to encourage you to do online shopping and watch movies as you code. They are there to hire you. Companies put a lot of effort into getting great developers.

At Velocity this year, I visited the GitHub booth, as I always do, to see if their were new stickers. I got into a conversation with them about how line-of-business applications are slowing people down. But they surprised me and gave me a counterargument, saying, “Yeah, but the SAP services team not only uses GitHub, they have many open source projects they share”.

SAP’s use cases are not so much about recruiting. The solutions team does a ton of integrations, and so it is more a matter of, we created it, so why not share it. The code itself does not pose an IP risk, and it serves as good brand awareness — an accelerator for prospective and existing customers of the platform.

Most of the projects SAP offers are related to their specific products, with an emphasis on the more modern ones: Lumira for visualizations, and the cloud version of HANA. But there are a few tidbits for the broader market. I particularly like OpenUI5, XCode Maven Plugin and ReviewNinja.

It is these tools that give me great excitement for the future of Dev. Some of the slowest moving enterprises are being pulled in the direction of modern software development by means of acquisition, and/or team members who push the contribution. But it also creates a little fear.

Let’s face it. All developers love OSS, which makes you wonder if all tooling will be adopted in this way. If you picture a world where 100 percent of the tooling and components come from open source, some serious issues arise; not to mention the security risks, but also the instability of the market itself, which will limit the sustainability of any application. However, it does encourage a lot of professional services built just to address these problems. System integrators will be the new software vendor, perhaps. And companies like Sonatype and OpenLogic will do very well. Let’s hope they embrace smaller organizations at the same time.

These corporate OSS projects are not small. It requires a team to maintain the branding of the Git pages and manage what is posted there. So, it really is an investment — do not underestimate their commitment.

The challenging fact for the consumer is, most of the tools offered are very specific to an application. For example, sometimes it is trickier and more costly to adapt a tool from NetFlix to fully fit with your application than it is worth. However, using the code is not the only value; there is also a lot to learn from their approach. I noticed, in particular with SAP, that all the projects seem general and small enough to be used by most anyone. Unlike Deployinator, a release automation tool from Etsy.

It really is exciting times, no matter what the motivator is, to see large enterprise projects that support the developer community. I’m currently for anything that pushes the DevOps needle towards legacy organizations. However, the biggest benefits are education, and being able to see the evolution of components and delivery changes happen right before my eyes, commit by commit.

SAP is a sponsor of The New Stack.

Feature image via Flickr Creative Commons.

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