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How SAP is embracing Open Source

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Emerging technologies like AI and Open Source were at the center stage of the SAP TechEd summit in Las Vegas, Nevada. I sat down with Daniel Lahl, Vice President, Product Marketing at SAP, to break down some of the key focus areas of SAP TechEd.

Explaining the importance of Open Source at SAP, Lahl Said, “We have to be part of open source communities. It allows us to adapt and innovate faster so we can help our customers and partners deliver cool things to the marketplace,” said Lahl.

But SAP, as a company is older than me. This 46-year-old iconic-German company also has a massive workforce of seasoned developers and engineers. Most of the emerging technologies are less than 6 months old, so it’s a massive undertaking for a company of SAP size to bring its workforce to the modern era. It’s not unique to SAP, most such companies are going through their own transformation as they are embracing these newer technologies for their customers.

When asked about this challenge, Lahl said, “As compared to earlier, we now have a great mix of seasoned developers and younger developers. The culture within SAP is shifting and we need to have both.” SAP’s seasoned developers have been building everything internally for decades, but now they have come to realize that they can’t build everything. They have to look outside at open source and embrace it.

“Now SAP teams are utilizing open source in more places than ever before. In addition, we are adding more capabilities to our platform that come from other vendors. To be able to help our customers better, we have to embrace technologies that may not have come from us. We are going out and bringing those capabilities to SAP, that’s the only way SAP is going to survive,” said Lahl.

That’s true of any industry today. There is just way too much code to be written that it’s not worth the investment for a single company to write all that code. Everyone is moving towards collaborative development of software and that’s where open source projects like Kubernetes and Cloud Foundry are gaining momentum.

Working on Cloud Foundry and Kubernetes

SAP is working closely with the Cloud Foundry community, SUSE and IBM to build some of the greatest Cloud Foundry technologies. “We continue to increase the number of committers we have for Cloud Foundry,” said Lahl.  The SAP is building an Open Service Broker API for Cloud Foundry. It’s working with IBM to build a Kubernetes orchestration layer for Cloud Foundry; it’s working with SUSE to build Cloud Foundry distribution top of Kubernetes.

“These three projects are going to bring Kubernetes and Cloud Foundry even closer together. As a result, on one hand customers will have solutions for containerization and orchestration of containers using best of breed Kubernetes, on the other hand, they will have the best of breed developer experience with the Cloud Foundry.

SAP is also investing heavily in Kubernetes. At SAP TechEd, SAP announced Kubernetes as a Service for SAP Cloud Platform. It’s available as a private beta to customers.  It will allow customers to deploy containerized business application workloads in a Kubernetes environment.

You can watch the full interview on YouTube

Here are some of the talking points:00:14:20  Keynote wrap:
01:07 Working on Cloud Foundry and Kubernetes
03:30 – Serverless vs Function as a Service
05:19 Focus of SAP on Machine Learning and AI
06:38 Open Source at SAP
08:01 Culture at SAP
11:29 Bringing ABAP Language to the modern world

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Swapnil Bhartiya
I have more than 12 years of experience covering Enterprise Open Source, Cloud, Containers, IoT, Machine Learning and general tech. My stories cover a very broad spectrum - traditional Linux, data center and Free Software to contemporary emerging technologies like 'serverless'. Widely Read: My stories have appeared in a multitude of leading publications including CIO, InfoWorld, Network World, The New Stack, Linux Pro Magazine, ADMIN Magazine, HPE Insights, Raspberry Pi Geek Magazine, SweetCode, Linux For You, Electronics For You and more.

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