In Surprise Move, SAP Backs OpenStack and Cloud Foundry

Traditional ERP and CRM enterprise software vendor joins archrival Oracle as sponsor of OpenStack Infrastructure-as-a-Service initiative.

Some industry pundits were surprised by SAP's announcement this week that it was sponsoring two cloud-based open source projects. The company also released development tools for its HANA platform.

SAP, a German company known for making traditional ERP and CRM software, is backing the OpenStack Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Cloud Foundry Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) initiatives.

The move to adjust to a cloud-centric services industry for enterprise software shouldn't be too surprising, however, as Jeffrey Schwartz noted earlier this year that the company "took the plunge, making its key software offerings available in the cloud as subscription-based services." Of course, proprietary solutions have been giving way to open source in many tech markets, with few companies choosing to stay on their own traditional paths, while moving to cloud-based and X-as-a-Service models..

In fact, SAP is joining archrival Oracle Corp. in becoming an OpenStack sponsor. The Register also seemed surprised by the "perplexing" news when it reported "SAP gets into OpenStack bed with... ORACLE?" Another competitor, Salesforce.com, was rumored by The Wall Street Journal to be joining OpenStack last year ("Salesforce.com to Join OpenStack Cloud Project"), but that didn't materialize, and SAP may have gotten a jump on its CRM competitor with this week's move.

The OpenStack project originated in 2010 through a partnership between Rackspace Hosting and NASA. It provides a free and open source cloud OS to control data center resources such as compute, storage and networking.

What is HANA?
[Click on image for larger view.]What is HANA? (source: SAP SE)

"SAP will act as an active consumer in the OpenStack community and make contributions to the open source code base," SAP said. "In addition, SAP has significant expertise in managing enterprise clouds, and its contributions will focus on enhancing OpenStack for those scenarios."

Meanwhile, SAP had an existing relationship with Cloud Foundry, as last December it announced "the code contribution and availability of a Cloud Foundry service broker for SAP HANA" along with other open source contributions. SAP HANA is the company's own PaaS offering. "The service broker will allow any Cloud Foundry application to connect to and leverage the in-memory capabilities of SAP HANA," the company said yesterday.

Now the company is jumping fully onboard with the Cloud Foundry project, started in 2011 by VMware Inc. and EMC Corp. and now the open source basis of the PaaS offering from Pivotal Software Inc., a spin-off collaboration between the two companies.

SAP said it's "actively collaborating with the other founding members to create a foundation that enables the development of next-generation cloud applications."

To foster that development of next-generation cloud applications on top of the HANA platform, SAP also yesterday announced new cloud-based developer tools, including SAP HANA Answers, a portal providing developers with information and access to the company's cloud expertise. Developers using the company's HANA Studio IDE -- based on the popular Eclipse tool -- can access the portal directly through a plug-in.

"SAP HANA Answers is a single point of entry for developers to find documentation, implement or troubleshoot all things SAP HANA," the company said. The site contained no content as of noon today, EDT.

Another HANA Cloud Platform tool, the SAP River Rapid Development Environment, was announced as a beta release last month. "This development environment, provisioned in the Web, intends to bring simplification and productivity in how developers can collaboratively design, develop and deploy applications that deliver amazing user experiences," the company said at the time.

Yesterday, SAP exec Bjoern Goerke summed up the news. "The developer and open source community are key to breakthrough technology innovation," Goerke said. "Through the Cloud Foundry and OpenStack initiatives, as well as new developer tools, SAP deepens its commitment to the developer community and enables them to innovate and code in the cloud."

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for 1105 Media.

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