Dr. Joseph Reger, Fujitsu Fellow and Chief Technology Officer for Fujitsu’s Europe, Middle East, India and Africa
I do not often make anagrams. But this one fits: Open Source Software (OSS) and the Linux of Cloud Computing – namely OpenStack (OST) – are developing into a successful future and have a lot of significance for SAP.
* in German, “passt so” means “fits just right”, “fits spot-on”.
Recently this magazineꞌs opinions page stated that there was such a thing as ꞌopen-stack euphoriaꞌ. If the meaning of ꞌευφορίαꞌ is an ꞌintense happiness or excitement” I take a different view. I say that there is a well-founded open-stack optimism evident in the market.
Why is Open Source software interesting? Perhaps I am using the term ꞌopen-source softwareꞌ a little casually – what I mean is the strict definition of ꞌfree softwareꞌ applied by the Free Software Foundation (1985). What is important for the software is the ꞌfreedom to use, share, study and (very important!) modifyꞌ. (The addition in italics is mine). This is only possible with open-source software. Here it is of secondary importance whether one has to pay for the software in some way. German gives less scope than English does for ambiguity between ꞌfree – not constrainedꞌ and ꞌfree – not subject to a paymentꞌ.
Access to the source-code and the possibility to modify enable a product to emerge that can be a match for commercial products, in terms of functionality, scope for integration, stability, quality, robustness and often indeed scaleability and availability also – indeed it is often superior. Accordingly, Linux has matured into an operating system in very widespread use. Today, for Cloud installations, around three-quarters of all servers are running on Linux – because good enough is good enough and because the community enjoys a degree of trust.
Why is OpenStack interesting? OpenStack is an OSS Cloud operating system and an environment for activity sequences. Apart from Linux, it is the largest and most ambitious OSS project. A lot has been done correctly right from the start – thus all the following are as they should be: governance model and processes, the procedure for code reviews, the integration tests, the automation of all procedures, etc. Paired with the advantages in terms of architecture – modularity, flexibility, capacity for incubation – this leads to tremendous speed of innovation. Thus, bit by bit, the weaknesses in terms of scaleability, availability, security and automation are being ironed out. That is also the reason why we at Fujitsu have decided to take OpenStack as the foundation for our next-generation cloud platform. We are active in the community and contribute many Enterprise characteristics to the further development of OpenStack. OpenStack is sufficiently complete and robust for a lot of instances of use.
Why is all of this of significance for SAP? OpenStack offers an attractive environment for higher layers of the stack – everything that the Cloud heart could desire: virtualisation (VM-s, docker, rocket), PaaS (Cloud Foundry), big-data platform (Hadoop), cluster management (Kubernetes, Mesos), orchestration (TOSCA), service catalogues (Murano), application-monitoring (Monasca). This can not only be supplied but also operated. This also brings us into SAP domains. It is no coincidence that SAP is itself active in some of the OpenStack projects named. There are particularly clear opportunities for deployment for the Hana Cloud Platform (HCP) or Hana Enterprise Cloud (HEC).
Not all of this is perfect yet but OpenStack is barely five years old. SAP-specific capabilities (such as SAP application deployment, system cloning, accounting, high-application-availability) are not yet to be had. Nevertheless the enormous potential for SAP (both for the software and also for the company) is clearly to be seen: OpenStack on Linux can become the perfect SAP infrastructure.
The stack model of IT was not invented without a purpose. Sometimes complete stacks are created, yet usually it is more advantageous if each company involves itself in parts of the stack. This is especially true if the foundations and the infrastructure are already in place. The infrastructure is developing with the times and usually oneꞌs own added-value is shifting upwards. Down below, in many instances open source can take over the tasks. This also applies to SAP. Spot-on – “passst soo!”