Interview: More Than Just an Open Source Company Pt.2
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Interview: More Than Just an Open Source Company Pt.2

In Part 2 of our E-3 interview with Suse Linux CTO Thomas Di Giacomo, we dive into the cooperation with SAP, legacy IT and the switch to Hana.

E-3: Let’s talk about the SAP customers. Obviously, they see all these innovations and new products from SAP based on Open Source. Some of them may be at a crossroads when it comes to their way into the future. What is your advice for them?

Di Giacomo: I think companies need to find out what they really need for improving their core business. Take Leonardo for example. It’s a set of different tools and customers may not need all of them all the time. Based on that, the next question is: How do we implement it?

The solution can be on-premise with third party support, hybrid cloud, etc. As a rule of thumb, I would say: If it’s not business critical, don’t do it yourselves.

From our expertise at Suse we can say that sometimes people are confident that they can operate Open Source themselves simply because they have access to the code. That unfortunately is not enough.


You need processes in place for patching, a lot of knowledge in-house. So, packaged solutions are a better idea in this case. Innovation happens so fast, even if you have the knowledge available internally today, you may be outdated already in six months.

Partners will help you keep pace with the speed of innovation so you can focus on the core business, as well as with regulation compliance, audit etc..

You can’t just do that with one or two full-time employees and should probably better focus your resources on your business value-added.

E-3: For the SAP-customers looking at Open Source and Suse Linux Enterprise, how do you cooperate with SAP?

Di Giacomo: The answer is very simple: We’ve been developing technology and solutions together for a long time now. We also have joint support, which means if a company gets support from SAP, all the Open Source components are covered by us.

We are working behind the scene so the customer only needs to call one number if issues arise.

We’ve been doing a great job to hide the underlying complexity and have the customer focus on his core business. At the end of the day, the user should not worry about the underlying infrastructure but focus on the business value.

This is a proven cooperation and we will continue to provide the same level of support, but it’s not only a technical integration between Suse Linux Enterprise and SAP.

It’s also joint optimization, joint improved user experience and support integration.

E-3: So, for the SAP community you could say that the switch to Hana and S/4 does not bring any risks in terms of infrastructure because the cooperation will continue?

Di Giacomo: Exactly, we’ve done that in the past as well with the change from NetWeaver to Hana.

Working with SAP on the migration to Hana Enterprise Cloud, SAP Cloud Platform or S/4 will just be the same. Again, we’re trying to hide the complexity as much as possible, together with SAP. In 1999, we’ve built the reference architecture for SAP on Linux in the Linux Lab.

Last year we joined the Cloud Lab with SAP and are doing just the same now for OpenStack and Cloud Foundry.

So once again we build the reference architecture, ensure interoperability and optimization, make sure it works and it’s supported for the long term, and bring it to the data center of the SAP customer.

E-3: What could be the goal?

Di Giacomo: It all comes down to strong support to anticipate the needs of our customers. In that context, we try to be as open as possible for partners, not just when it comes to Open Source.

Our partners can also have proprietary components. At the end of the day we need to provide the best stack for our customers.

Also, our job is to make sure projects fulfil the requirements for enterprise features. Sometimes communities only focus on innovations and new technologies.

We then focus on expanding stability, security, scalability, automation and ease of deployment and maintenance to these projects, also when multiple ones are used together, which is more and more the case.

E-3: And what´s about legacy IT?

Lastly, we also need to consider legacy IT as well. Obviously, reality is not about forcing adoption of a full new stack. Customers had to make significant investments in the past and that needs to be accounted for.

We need to find ways to make sure these investments integrate nicely with new Open Source solutions.

The stack needs to be open to have different pieces from different companies and different technologies work together to ensure interoperability.

E-3: Almost half the SAP customers are running on Windows but now Hana obviously means Linux. How do you deal with that?

Di Giacomo: We are working very closely with Microsoft on migrating the SAP customers running on Microsoft to Hana on Azure.

That means you can start a Hana instance on Google Cloud, AWS or Azure on Suse Linux Enterprise. You just click on Hana and it all comes together. As Azure is growing even faster with Linux, that makes a lot of sense from Microsoft’s perspective also.

We’re again trying to hide the complexity behind the scenes which means you don’t need detailed Linux knowledge to run Hana that way. You don’t need to worry about Hana or Linux instances on the public cloud, it’s all integrated.

We try to make it as easy as possible to bring the SAP community running on Windows to Hana on Azure.

E-3 Magazine (German)

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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