Blog Editor-in-Chief

Container Virtualization

It’s hard to imagine B2B software without open source. SAP's customers are already familiar with open-source solutions, and not just because of the Linux/Hana collaboration. But is SAP making sufficient use of open source’s potential?

SAP needs more than Linux

Most SAP customers are now aware that open source is much more than just Linux. IBM did not acquire the company Red Hat to have another operating system to offer, but because numerous open-source tools enable an IT enterprise to have a new organizational system and architecture. SAP customer Henkel, a company that creates adhesives and laundry detergent, is working with Red Hat to build a new IT infrastructure that will bring more flexibility and resilience.

On-prem vs. cloud

From the perspective of an open-source community, the discussion “on-prem vs. cloud computing” seems very academic and artificial. After all, container virtualization of S/4 would put an end to this discourse: whether Docker and Kubernetes and other components are available in one’s own data center through a host or hyperscaler would be irrelevant in the first stage for the S/4 containers.

Docker and Kubernetes

A roundtable discussion at Red Hat shows that users and SAP customers are sometimes further along than some providers. SAP legacy customer Henkel is working with Red Hat to build an IT infrastructure with cloud functionality and will run its own applications as containers. Through this container virtualization based on Kubernetes, Henkel aims to achieve the greatest possible independence, flexibility, and resilience.


For many years, VMware dominated the SAP community with its virtualization technology. Almost every CIO followed the call to consolidate, harmonize, and virtualize. SAP itself worked extensively with VMware because the technology brought unprecedented flexibility to the ERP world. Virtualization was later replaced by SAP’s cloud computing, and apparently no one at the company recognized the possible synergy between these two technologies. With the container concept, the open-source community has shown that things can be done differently.

S/4 Container

Has SAP missed the opportunity of the century by ignoring container technology? The first step with Hana on Linux and SAP’s cooperation with Suse (a cloud solution company) and Red Hat was the right call. This was then followed by the use and evaluation of further components from the open-source portfolio. A fundamental conversion from the ERP architecture to a container virtualization was obviously something SAP never considered. From the current perspective, an S/4 packaged in numerous containers could possibly have prevented the tiresome discussion about cloud first, cloud only, private, public, and hybrid cloud in the first place.

Perhaps it’s not a technical discourse, but rather a question of generational differences and attitude. Back when I studied computer science, there were only mainframes with punch cards at the university; there was no Linux yet. This makes me an open source novice, and I hope for more knowledge and insight from SAP in the future.

Any questions, comments, or concerns? Please feel free to let us know in a comment down below.

About the author

Peter M. Färbinger, Editor-in-Chief

Peter M. Färbinger is Editor-in-Chief and Publisher at E-3 Magazine, AG, Munich, Germany. He can be reached at

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