An important discussion is happening inside the SAP community right now: intellectual property or open source?
For years, SAP’s ERP has been a black box. Most SAP partners make their living off of selling add-ons for the system. These add-ons have to be licensed and customers must pay maintenance fees. It’s profitable business for SAP partners, and customers can enjoy good service and cost-efficient offers.
However, Linux changed a lot of things in the SAP community. The software is free of charge, customers just have to pay for service and customizing. This model didn’t exactly make Suse Linux rich, but it established itself as one of the most trusted and knowledgeable SAP partners worldwide.
Leveraging the same business model, Red Hat was valued at over US$30 billion – if the price that IBM was willing to pay for it is any indication.
The SAP partner community still follows the software license model, and many of them are raising concerns regarding their intellectual property. And rightly so; after all, their livelihood is at stake.
I interviewed SAP COO Christian Klein on the topic. He was surprised to hear about the conflict of interest but assured me that he would contact the partners involved.
Open source is the future
Fact of the matter is that the software licensing business is changing. Therefore, Business Application Programming Interface (SAP BAPI) should be transferred to SAP Cloud Platform and Github as app. These kinds of apps could not only be open source, but they could also be further developed and optimized with tools like Mendix (listed as SAP Cloud Platform for Rapid Application Development by Mendix in SAP’s pricing list).
SAP is still trying to preserve the current licensing model by offering Abap for SCP. However, open source and rapid application development are the future, and SAP and partners should react to these changes before it will be too late.