SAP DB: The Other Open-Source Database

SAP itself will benefit from donating SAP DB 7.2 to the open-source movement, but so will the open-source community.

July 29, 2002

2 Min Read
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While the open-source world has its eyes on MySQL, Firebird and Postgres, ERP vendor SAP has quietly introduced a strong contender to the open-source database arena. The news is well-known in Europe, but we in the states are a little behind.

SAP has donated SAP DB 7.2, the latest release of its database, to the open-source movement under the Gnu LGPL. Its motivation appears to be simple -- to paraphrase: This is not our core product, and both we and the open-source community can benefit from SAP DB.

SAP's R/3 suite of enterprise applications access the database through a programming API, so the company's core products don't need to be released under GPL. Thus, SAP's market position is protected while it draws on the expertise of the open-source community to help further develop its database. SAP has committed its continuing support for the database -- after all, its products rely on SAP DB.

SAP DB is a cut above its open-source competitors. For starters, it is fully SQL-compliant -- including stored procedures and triggers. And SAP DB has an ODBC interface for Linux, something that Firebird, the other popular database with triggers and stored procedures, does not yet have.

We should applaud and reward SAP for its forward thinking. If you're looking into open-source databases, SAP DB is worth a gander. Unlike some proprietary vendors that have called open-source licensing a "virus," SAP realizes a symbiosis between commercial and open-source software is beneficial to all parties and is achievable.Microsoft, meanwhile, has gone so far as to testify in front of Congress that open-source products should not be used in government because they limit the access of software companies to government business. In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Steve Ballmer called Linux (and by extension the GPL) a "cancer." SAP has shown that there is a much more professional way for a software giant to deal with open source: Embrace it for peripheral code bases where it makes sense and maintain proprietary software for the core business. Microsoft and all the vendors that share its views should follow SAP's lead.
--Don MacVittie, [email protected]

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