Tuesday, 10 April 2007

The boring bits are a SAP's strength





Last week, while still in Cannes, I read an article about SAP’s point of view on the impact of open source in ERPs. Henning Kagermann, SAP’s current CEO, declared in Computer Business Review that “Open Source is an option for operating systems and databases but not at the business application level”. This point of view does not surprise me since it is not a new statement coming from a top software executive. In the past, important executives such as Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer also disregarded the Open Source opportunity/ threat in the operating system world. But … you know … what really strikes me is the main rationale that Henning was using to support his point of view. He argumented that Open Source successful projects are those where developers like to work for “fun” and literally said “I have never seen anyone who likes doing that (referring to altering applications to cater for legal or regulatory changes such as Sarbanes-Oxley or Basel II). That is not fun. There is no choice. The boring bits are a strength of SAP” .
I am really astonished … Can we imply that SAP’s strengths against open source competitors are only built upon boring pieces?. Does Henning see open source competitors failing on their purpose because there is no fun on building ERPs?. If that was the name of the game … and you are working at SAP … please tell your boss that our growing community encompassing now more than 50 employees and more than hundreds of individuals working for IT companies around the world is really having “fun”!!!!. But please tell him that we are not having fun for the sake of fun. And here it comes the true reason why open source will make it in the world of ERPs: Fun for the sake of building Openbravo, the leading open source ERP Company in the space. At the end experience tells us that everything that can be built on open source, is finally built on open source (see other similar projects that are building business applications successfully with open source @ the Open Solutions Alliance )".

Anyway … I am convinced that we will see Henning in the future adapting its pitch as many others (read Gates and Ballmer) have done it. Don’t you think?

23 comments:

Cesar said...

Great Post Manel!!!
I´ve heard before this type of comment coming for SAP, but I don´t remember who did it.

We can only think about this (for those who had a brain for thinking) that they are ignoring the evidence. No problem, time is the best judge.

Who was that guy that hit Goliat? David?

Manel Sarasa said...

Yes Cesar, your comment reminds me of the great Red Hat video: Truth Happens (see http://www.redhat.com/v/mov/TruthHappens.mov ) which uses the famous Mohandas Gandhi statement of:

First they ignore you ...
Then they laugh at you ...
Then they fight you ...
Then you win ...

I guess we are entering in the "fighting" fase?

Ivan Yong said...

Hi Manel,

I helped a SAP Partner to build a business using 2 of SAP most current product SAP Business One and mySAP All in One for SME customers in South East Asia not too long ago.

For Henning to say that i think he is definitely seeing competition !

SAP has been trying to reinvent itself into a business solution not merely an ERP solution.But Goliath has recently lost more nimbleness with Shai leaving now.

Ironically, they are building a platform Netweaver to enable the use of common programming language like Java.

Way to go with Openbravo ! I am seeing a lot of potential using an Open Source ERP to give real value benefits to customers. And not to bog customers down with further maintenance fee.

Thank you for the opportunity for us to truly deliver SaaS !

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