SAP has extended maintenance for Business Suite 7, abolishing the former Hana deadline 2025. After initial celebration, confusion took hold, raising important questions, like: What about AnyDB and the NetWeaver stack? Without them, Business Suite is practically worthless. SAP needs new contracts with IBM, Microsoft and Oracle to be able to fulfill its maintenance promises.
Off the record, IBM already said three years ago that licensing contracts concerning DB2 and Suite 7 had been canceled. Back then, all involved parties still thought that the deadline 2025 would hold – or, at the very least, had high hopes that customers had switched to Hana by then, and SAP would only have to offer extended maintenance for SoH, Business Suite on Hana.
Well, about that…
As we all know, the switch to Hana and S/4 has been met with hesitation and wariness. Even though most SAP customers agree that S/4 Hana is the way to go, getting there has proved to be a problem for most – which is why we now have extended maintenance for Business Suite 7 until 2030.
I sometimes wonder if SAP even informed AnyDB license providers IBM, Microsoft and Oracle before making such a momentous announcement. Must be, right? To make sure, I contacted the three companies and asked if their contracts with SAP had been extended.
After reaching out to the three database providers, I got very different reactions from each of them. IBM said that they would certainly find a way to offer DB2 for Suite 7 to SAP customers after 2025. Microsoft said that yes, their contract had been extended. Oracle refused to reply on and off the record.
While SAP, IBM, Microsoft and Oracle might fight with each other over higher licensing fees, customers’ entire ERP systems are at stake. How should they plan for the future if they don’t know if Business Suite 7 with AnyDB will still be (legally) available to them?
What SAP could do to save AnyDB and Hana
There are different approaches SAP could take to deal with this situation.
The pragmatic approach. SAP remains passive because Suite 7 will continue to function after 2025 – just without proper database licenses. Until IBM’s, Microsoft’s or Oracle’s legal teams knock on SAP customers’ doors, everything should be fine.
The expensive approach. SAP negotiates with IBM, Microsoft and Oracle and accepts their terms concerning extended maintenance between 2025 and 2030. IBM will leverage its advantages as Hana on Power provider. Microsoft might want to be compensated for the SAP and Azure “embrace”. Oracle and SAP aren’t on the best terms, anyway, but former SAP CTO Vishal Sikka now works at Oracle and could prove a valuable asset in negotiations.
The innovative approach. There have been rumors that former SAP CTO and Hana co-innovator Vishal Sikka once suggested to Hasso Plattner to make database Hana open source. This would have made Hana a public domain product. With a thriving community, it could have become the de facto standard for databases, just as Linux is the de facto standard for operating platforms. Even though Hasso Plattner allegedly wasn’t very fond of that idea, it could ultimately have saved SAP and its Hana vision.
Hana as public domain database
Making Hana open source seems more reasonable than ever. If SAP would declare Hana a public domain product (and effectively renounce commercial licenses), customers could implement the database without financial risk. Even if customizing and implementation costs would be high, it wouldn’t matter as much considering the significant savings on database licenses down the road.
Hana as open source offering in a public domain version would probably also accelerate the database transformation from AnyDB to Hana. Most SAP customers would then still leverage SoH after 2025, but some would have already switched to Hana on Power or S/4. In any case, SAP wouldn’t have the same problems that it has to deal with now – and wouldn’t that be better for everybody?