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SAP Exec Disparages Open Source As IP Socialism 498

FlorianMueller writes "According to a VNUnet report, Shai Agassi, the president of the product and technology group at SAP, disparaged open source as 'more likely to break applications' than to deliver innovation. He also equated the open-source development model with 'Intellectual property [IP] socialism,' which he says 'is the worst that can happen to any IP-based society.' In Europe, it isn't a secret that SAP's management primarily views open source as a threat to its business, and that SAP is politically on Microsoft's side. SAP and Microsoft co-financed certain pro-patent lobbying activities in Europe, and recently co-founded the European Software Association, an entity that is expected to lobby for software patents and against open-source adoption by European governments."
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SAP Exec Disparages Open Source As IP Socialism

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  • by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @07:06AM (#14006524)
    I take it then that SAP software always works first time, doesn't require an army of consultants to install, correctly and no one has a bad word of any kind to say about it?
    • by peterprior ( 319967 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @07:42AM (#14006686)
      I would refer to someone who purchases their software as a 'poor sap []' but the irony would be too much to bear
    • Thats pretty much my experience of expensive software. The more it costs the more bugs and stiffness from the vendor. While i can install Apache on almost anything running a CPU i can only install some expensive software on specific hardware with tightly controlled patch revisions and with a squadron of elite consultans. It should be the other way around. SAP is scared shitless no doubt since its easier to implement many of the functions in their systems by yourself in open source than to use SAPs systems.
    • Re:Never works? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ackdesha ( 572569 )
      Arkansas set to pull the plug on ERP-driven budgeting approach State moves to scrap 'performance-based' methodology; lawsuit continues against SAP over initial software rollout ory/0,10801,99578,00.html/ []
      • Re:Never works? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by vacuum_tuber ( 707626 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @09:18AM (#14007128) Journal
        Arkansas set to pull the plug on ERP-driven budgeting approach...lawsuit continues against SAP

        An irony in this is that the Ark. Dept. of Health serves something like 2,200 users with a Wang VS mainframe cluster that runs like a clock -- it keeps on ticking. The VS cluster has a repository of about 50,000 programs, some 38,000 of which are actually utilized by users of the system. A very small group of five or six programmers maintains the code and accommodates all legislative and regulatory changes, often in a tiny fraction of the time it takes for adaptations of newer software technologies, especially those provided by outside firms. Of course the State of Ark. wants to "get rid of the Wang" ASAP (or should that be "A sap?").

        It's unclear how it would even be possible to spend money like $60 million creating VS clusters because the stuff just doesn't cost that much. A single VS to serve 500-1000 users can't cost more than low six figures, and new VS technology puts the largest, fastest VS into 3.5" of rack space using industry standard hardware in a Linux host.

  • Bogeyman... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 11, 2005 @07:07AM (#14006526)
    Strewth, Americans really have a thing about socialism. Just invoking the word scares people, even though the rest of the Western world has, to some degree or other, accepted and embraced facets socialism (the Welfare State, socialised medicine). When your elderly people have to travel to Canada to buy cheap drugs, it's socialism that they're benefiting from.

    Now, I'm not an apologist for Stalinism, but socialism, in it's most basic form means "sharing." It means looking after your fellow man, particularly those who have nothing. Attach a bearded guy, and a couple of nails and it turns into Christianity.
    • Re:Bogeyman... (Score:5, Informative)

      by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @07:14AM (#14006561)
      Yes, the amusing thing is that most standard of living indexes (by the Economist, World Bank, UN etc) the USA is often beaten by countries with quite socialist systems.
      • Re:Bogeyman... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bheer ( 633842 )
        Yeah, but the most successful socialist countries tend to be small population-wise and have at least a replacement-level population growth. Scandinavia is a good example.

        For larger countries, say Germany and France, it's a disaster waiting to happen-- all the benefits that they dole out have to be funded from somewhere, and when your taxpaying base is shrinking, it's not a good thing. (Of course, knowing France, they'll probably find a way to make the EU pay for all of this.)

        Finally, standard of living-wise
        • Re:Bogeyman... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ozmanjusri ( 601766 ) <> on Friday November 11, 2005 @08:11AM (#14006812) Journal
          For larger countries, say Germany and France, it's a disaster waiting to happen-- all the benefits that they dole out have to be funded from somewhere, and when your taxpaying base is shrinking, it's not a good thing.

          You mean, compared to the much more sensible US social security system?
        • Re:Bogeyman... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by mikkom ( 714956 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @08:21AM (#14006849) Homepage
          Innovation in Europe happens by government mandate or not at all.
          Really, really strange opinion. Would you please describe a little bit further what you mean by that?
        • The United States' socialized road and highways seem to work ok. Socialism built a pretty good interstate highway infrastructure.
        • Re:Bogeyman... (Score:3, Informative)

          by daem0n1x ( 748565 )

          Innovation in Europe happens by government mandate or not at all

          This is an unfounded and prejuditial affirmation you make. It's the sort of anti-european statements that some Americans like to pull out of their asses.

        • Re:Bogeyman... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by BarryNorton ( 778694 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @11:29AM (#14008157)
          Innovation in Europe happens by government mandate or not at all
          Hey, now wait a minute. We're talking on the Web, which was indeed (in large part) due to publically-funded research in Europe, but the Internet protocols on which it was implemented derive from DARPANet, which was (in large part) due to publically-funded military research in the US.

          Take also the Semantic Web - our research effort (on which both myself and SAP work) is indeed publically-funded research, but one of the building blocks in OWL, which directly descends DAML - DARPA Agent Mark-up Language...

          What I'm saying is that in both areas the government sets the agenda for a lot of research and innovation, the real difference in that in Europea good deal of this is funded for the good of the people (how socialist - bleurgh!), whereas in the US it is funded for the good of the war machine!

    • ...but socialism, in it's most basic form means "sharing."

      See also: Smurfs.
    • Re:Bogeyman... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mikaelhg ( 47691 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @07:47AM (#14006708)
      Actually, this is one of the things the rest of the world laughs at Americans for: willfully buying into the crudest sort of political propaganda, then turning around and creating a one-party system.

      Even the Russians, under the Soviet rule, had the brains to see through the propaganda.
    • Speaking as somebody from post-communist block, the problem with socialism in purest form (communism) is that it looks very nice on paper, but in practise there these main problems:
      - "distributing money" through taxes (in) and social and other support (out) is the very most un-effective way (LOT of money is "lost" and whole process tends to be very very expensive (lot of buerocracy))
      - (some) people tends to be greedy (they try to avoid to share)
      etc. etc.

      But this is all about politics - I think that applying
    • There's plenty of socialism in the US: unemployment benefits, medicare/medicaid (ok, so I'm not clear on the difference) and minimum wage laws to mention but a few.
      The interesting point about the US isn't their lack of socialism, but their deep-rooted fear of calling it by its real name. The word "socialism" in the US seems to have taken on a completely different meaning from the word "socialism" in Europe - it has become so bad it's almost mandatory to translate between UK English and US English just to av
  • by Guardian of Terra ( 753181 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @07:07AM (#14006528)
    This article deals with 'socialism', so I'm waiting politely for the best 'In Soviet Russia' comment.
  • Socialism (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @07:08AM (#14006532)

    If he believes that OSS is "socialist", and also believes that it is a threat to his business, then isn't he saying that the socialist model can come up with a market solution that is more competitive than the capitalist model? I thought to capitalist types that type of thinking was heresy.

    It's all nonsense of course. OSS is the open market coming up with the most efficient solution to an expensive problem. Nothing socialist about it at all, unless you believe businesses sharing development costs for stuff that helps them run their businesses is socialist.
  • He got it all wrong (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MadMoses ( 151207 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @07:09AM (#14006541) Homepage
    is the worst that can happen to any IP-based society

    No, one of the worst things that can happen to our society is that it's turned into an IP-based society.
    • by miffo.swe ( 547642 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {molbdeh.leinad}> on Friday November 11, 2005 @07:38AM (#14006667) Homepage Journal
      Exactly my opinion. Let me explain why.

      The transfer from an industrial society to an IP based is purely based on the fact that the current economical system drives manual labour to countries with cheap labour costs, no unions and poor economies. When we cant have our own industry our only option in the rich countries is to put a pricetag on all our current knowledge and sell that to the emerging economies. We can have them inventing things and selling it without paying us can we. The IP market is more of a defense against the now emerging countries like China. If we cant sell goods we sell ideas, IP and culture to them.

      The proper way would be to fix the system so that it isnt that much benefit in putting all the workforce abroad and keep on manufacturing our own goods. Seen from a global non economic perspective its not a good idea to ship things around the globe.
      • by IgnoramusMaximus ( 692000 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @07:56AM (#14006747)
        The IP market is more of a defense against the now emerging countries like China. If we cant sell goods we sell ideas, IP and culture to them.

        You are absolutely right of course. I would only add that it is also a futile and self-destructive "defense" in a long-term. It assumes, arrogantly, that the others are too dumb to match your R&D efforts or to produce their own culture. I hope I do not need to explain the frightening idiocy of that folly.

        What is amazing and depressing to me is the number of otherwise bright people who buy into this IP sham. It is an economic and social disaster in the making, in the name of short term greed of the corporates and their paid-for, albait brainless, politicos.

        • It assumes, arrogantly, that the others are too dumb to match your R&D efforts or to produce their own culture.

          Maybe it just assumes that you can enforce your IP over the IP of developing countries whether it's valid or not. Being a large economic power with the best funded army in the world does have its merits.
    • No, one of the worst things that can happen to our society is that it's turned into an IP-based society.

      Very insightful indeed. One wonders what sorts of troglodyte "thought" patterns must be present in those "globalization" and "idea economy" shills who fail to realize that all of the economic activity rests on manufacturing like a sky-scraper rests on its foundations. Those who manufacture and directly service the manufacturers, are the ultimate recipients of the bulk of the results of the economy. Perhe

  • Mysql? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Honken ( 665599 )
    I wonder how this fits in with their cooperation with Mysql on MaxDB?
  • by Elrac ( 314784 ) <> on Friday November 11, 2005 @07:11AM (#14006547) Homepage Journal
    SAP is consultingware, sold to bosses, not users. Its user friendliness is abysmal, and the company bleeds its customers for obscene amounts of money in exchange for catering to their fears of not being able to take care of their business. Business processes worldwide are bent and pushed to fit the SAP way of working, rather than the other way around. In other words, yes, SAP is, umm, "evil" in the ./ sense.

    They are also a corporation, and pretty much a monopolist riding a one-trick pony. Of course they see Open Source as a threat! And as a competition, they must combat whatever threatens their bottom line.

    In other words, they had to say this or something like it, sooner or later. You could say they're legally obligated to.

    Nothing new or unusual, in other words. Just the usual FUD. *sigh*
    • Ironically, this is something of a new direction from SAP. I recall distinctly that a looooong time about (about 2001) SAP wanted the future of everything to be Linux. Linux was the future, Linux was the way to go, and soon the universe would be open source. They purchased Adabase and made it SAPDB, which they released as free open source. Then they sold it to MySQL, who made it MaxDB, which is both expensive, and I believe closed source.

      ABAP (the now passe SAP programming language) was designed to be an 'o
  • Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Walkiry ( 698192 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @07:11AM (#14006548) Homepage
    >'Intellectual property [IP] socialism.'

    Well, in many ways you can see that socialism appeared as a reaction versus totalitarian and/or oppresive regimes (yeah, I know this oversimplifies things, don't chew me up for it). So if you see Open Source as "IP Socialism," perhaps you should reflect for a second on why we have gotten to this point.
  • this is expected (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bogaboga ( 793279 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @07:15AM (#14006564)
    ...after all, SAP made most of their profits when opensource was still an underdog. Just like M$ would smear FOSS. Does this surprise anyone?
  • SAP (Score:3, Informative)

    by zaguar ( 881743 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @07:17AM (#14006576)
    In case you didn't know, SAP is a closed-source firm that sells super-expensive specialized software for BIG enterprise.

    The costs are typically astronomical to start with, but the costs just go up as you need a band of specialized software liason managers to manage the system.

    Just so you know where they are coming from. My take? Bullshit/FUD from another closed-source software vendor. []

  • by MosesJones ( 55544 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @07:18AM (#14006579) Homepage

    Interestingly of course SAP has actually had a history of doing Open Source, including releasing its own product (sapdb, now MaxDB) and certifying R/3 on Open Source platforms including Linux, and the MaxDB database. They probably also use some of the Apache libraries in Netweaver.

    So far from breaking their product suite SAP actually enable you to rely on Open Source to deliver the sort of availability you'd expect from a proper ERP.
  • What so bad about OSS being a socialism in the first place? I think this guy just bringing back the old scary story about communists and that "they want to destroy us"!
    Actually, I've studied socialism a lot. And I think that this is a very, very good business model and Free Software is a good proof. However, it still requires carefull research regarding how to implement it right on a country (world?) level.

    My point is: they can't reason anymore about "why is OSS bad" and so they try just to scare people
    • I think your comment misses the point -

      He also equated the open-source development model with 'Intellectual property [IP]
      socialism,' which he says 'is the worst that can happen to any IP-based society.'

      I agree with SAP in so far that "IP socialism" is the worst that can happen to any IP-based societies.

      What SAP is missing out here, is that their comment, much like yours is actually beside the point - shouldn't the question be, whether the type of "IP-based society" we live in is actually a good thing in the

  • by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @07:23AM (#14006607) Journal
    Anyone seen this film (or read John Nash's work on Game theory)?

    The general principle is that cooperation can produce better results for everyone than competition. Calling this socialism (which appears to be an insult in America) does not make it any less true.

    What we need to consider is when cooperating works, and when it doesn't. For most application developement, giving free assistance to others will not actually result in a cost. They will not neccesarily be competing for exactly the same customers and in many cases, the other party is obliged to offer tit-for-tat cooperation. This means the whole industry moves forward faster, costs go down, and the potential number of customers will go up. Everybody wins.

    This does not apply neccesarily so well to the IP based commercial software industry, especially when there is a single company dominating the software. But it doesn't have to. Free software has its place, and can bring benefits.
  • by orzetto ( 545509 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @07:23AM (#14006609)
    [I]f you look at the most innovative desktop today, Microsoft's Vista is not copying Linux, it is copying Apple.

    Maybe because Linux is a kernel, not a desktop.

  • SAP uses open source (Score:5, Informative)

    by Aussie ( 10167 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @07:26AM (#14006621) Journal
    In the SAP web shop you will find Python and Apache struts. They also open sourced their RDBMS.
    I can't logon on to work at moment and check (UPS maint), but it is full of it.

    It is possible this bloke doesn't speak for the whole company.
  • 1. [...] open source as 'more likely to break applications' [...]
    2. [...] SAP's management primarily views open source as a threat to its business [...]

    Perfectly consistent, if they think that 1.) is true, then 2.) is only a logical consequence, because until now it has always been SAP's job to break things...

  • the difference (Score:3, Insightful)

    by illuminatedwax ( 537131 ) <(ude.ogacihcu.inmula) (ta) (egnardts)> on Friday November 11, 2005 @07:34AM (#14006649) Journal
    Socialism is government-mandated. Open source software is market driven.
  • Open Source is Intelligent Design and urked..

    then I thought about and figured, perhaps that is a better definition of OS?
  • SAP is worried (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @07:48AM (#14006711)
    At some point either GNU Enterprise [] or Compiere [] are going to be good enough and supported enough to do away with their only product.

    Oh and open source and free software have nothing to do with socialism and every thing to do with supply and demand...

  • by machalla ( 930299 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @07:52AM (#14006729)
    Hilarious. This guy is attacking his own company in effect. Sap uses eclipse as its development tool of choice and is migrating a lot of the older style development towards java using an eclipse based ide (Netweaver Studio). It uses apache and tomcat for some of its mobile products. Linux is one of the basic supported os that SAP runs on (and is recommended to run on). Having had to use and develop SAP components for the last year or more I now know more about SAP than I have ever wanted to. Ignorance must be a strength in this case..
    • Absolutily.

      Plus, their applications written in ABAP, their own language, are delivered in plain source code. Which may not be OSS by license, but still in the sense of the word.

      And one word on the incredible amounts of $$$ they charge: Actually, neither Oracle nor Microsoft nor IBM are anywhere cheaper.

      So far I thought Agassi knew more about technology... But he seems really anti-OSS anyway, now that I come to think about it. He also changed SAP's web-oriented UI-strategy to web + MM-Flash and integration

  • It's interesting that the best he can come up with is that open source breaks applications and isn't innovative. I admit that OSS isn't (generally) very innovative but then nor are a lot of companies. Yes there are some that lavish money on research but most pretty much just copy what their competitor is doing. More to the point though OSS just doesn't have the budget or man power to do a lot of research. It's a fundamentally different approach to software developemnt than the way it works in a company. I t

  • IP socialism? Is there another kind?

    Debout^H^H^H^H^H^H#TOP les damnes de la terre!
    Debout les forcats^H^H^Hks de la faim
    La raison tonne en son cratere //Someone explain why this line is here?
    C'est l'eruption de la fin^H^H^H#END// Say what?

    Okay, so it's weak...
  • There aint nothing wrong with voluntary socialism. Forced socialism has problems, in that people are lazy, so relying on people to give something for no reward doesn't always work. But if people voluntarily do it, that's called a good thing. Socialism that actually works if you will.
  • Under socialism, you give up property whether you want to or not. With open source, you share if you want to. Nobody is forced to participate. The difference is that black and white. Anyone who tries calling open source "socialism" is either misinformed, or is trying to accomplish something through deceptive philosophy instead of fair trade.
  • So, are they against open source? Why is socialism bad all of a sudden? I thought helping people was good. Are people still obsessing over the whole socalism==communism thing.

    Were these guys paying attention when New Orleans flooded?
  • I heard a story how SAP bought a business from a guy in one European country. With changed names, it could be exactly the same like it was in Chicago in 20s-30s. "We want to buy your company; if you don't want to sell, we will create our product and we will force you out of business." Irony is that the guy was their business partner! The guy literally cried after that "friendly offer".

    After this story, do you still find their OS attitude strange?
  • by number6x ( 626555 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @08:19AM (#14006840)

    When will they figure out that "Open Source is socialism' line just doesn't work?

    Free and Open Source software is about as socialist as "We The People", or "E Pluribus Unum".

    Free software is about a community forming and providing the solutions to their own problems. You know, "By the people, of the people, and for the people".

    I guess that SAP has joined with the opposition party. They all speak with one voice. They all spread the same party line lies and propaganda. Their followers believe the lies.

    What's more socialist, expecting all of your solutions from big brother named Bill, or developing them on your own? Monopolies are illegal can only continue to exist when government allows them to. They oppose democratic grass roots solutions and try to mandate solutions from the top down. They act for their own interest and not for the consumers. That pretty much describes socialism and closed source software.

    Give it up already. Free and open source sofyware is a force of market economics. It is a better way to design, deliver and support software. It is lowering costs and improving the bottom line of the consumers of software. F/OSS is leading the way in the commoditization of software, and the profit margins of the closed source vendors are being threatened.

    Too bad!

    Compete fairly or get out of the game.

  • Barrier to entry (Score:2, Insightful)

    by scottsk ( 781208 )
    People like this from big companies hate open source because there's no barrier to entry. What they've been doing is spending huge amounts of time and money developing certification exams, restricted proprietary software, etc to put a hedge around their domains so not just anyone can get in, only those who pay the barrier to entry fee by taking exams, buying software, buying SDKs, etc etc etc. Only people who are rich, or can get big companies to pay for the barrier to entry, etc can play ball. Open source
  • by dermond ( 33903 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @08:22AM (#14006855)
    "Intellectual property [IP] socialism is the worst that can happen to any IP-based society," he said. "And we are an IP-based society. If there is no way to protect IP, there is no reason to invest in IP."

    actually, as a communist i kind of appreciate this kind of FUD.

    these people equate free software with communism/socialism as a means of spreading FUD against free software, but as a side effect they make the idea of communism/socialism interesting for people who do not like the idea of "intelectual property".

    and the equation is not that far off:

    • socialism/communism => the means of production should be not privatly owned but in the hand of the public:
    • free software => source code (the most important means of production for new software) should be in the hand of the public

    where of course the therm "socialism" is not really exact here because the "in the hand of the public" means in the phase of socialism that it should be owned by the state. where "free software" means not owned by the state but really owned by the public, that is: belonging to anyone who wants to make productive use of it. this form of "free association of working people" is a hallmark of communist socity and not of socialist:

    In a higher phase of communist society, after the enslaving subordination of the individual to the division of labor, and therewith also the antithesis between mental and physical labor, has vanished; after labor has become not only a means of life but life's prime want; after the productive forces have also increased with the all-around development of the individual, and all the springs of co-operative wealth flow more abundantly -- only then then can the narrow horizon of bourgeois right be crossed in its entirety and society inscribe on its banners: From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!
    Karl Marx, 1875 in "Critique of the Gotha Program"

    so the SAP Fud is wrong i think. it is rather not "IP socialism" but "IP communism". where the P in "IP communism" is still an oxymoron of course.

    A specter is haunting Europe -- the specter of Communism. [...] Where is the party in opposition that has not been decried as communistic by its opponents in power? (from the communist manifesto)

  • []

    Well SAP just proudly presents,
    more then 1000 Customers are
    running mission critical Systems
    on Linux. For those who do not
    know, moving a Company to SAP can
    easily cost millions of USD. Money
    is not a primary issue. Stability
    is! So do not put MS and SAP into
    the same spot, MS does not work in
    the Linux-World. Mr. Agassi is a
    manager, who just farted through the
    wrong hole. Do not worry, SAP is rather
    a OSS Supporter. Go for []

    This Article is not good journalism, as you
  • How is it socialism? (Score:3, Informative)

    by jenkin sear ( 28765 ) * on Friday November 11, 2005 @10:52AM (#14007805) Homepage Journal
    My (admittedly naive) understanding of socialism, was that it was the exclusive province of the government; the government decides to provide some good or service that was otherwise only available through non-state actors- companies, contractors, vendors, or not available at all.

    How is this even remotely related to shared intellectual property, contributed by individuals and corporations (non-state actors), to a common good? Especially, as the primary result seems to be the establishment of high-quality standards that private and public players need to adhere to in order to participate in the market?

    It seems like a government appropriation of an idea- which is what copyright and patent laws do, they leverage the power of the state against the ownership of an "idea"- is far further along the path to socialism than the free and interested contribution of ideas to a common market.

    Frankly, this guy's head is so far up his ass, he can probably see out his nostrils.

Nothing succeeds like the appearance of success. -- Christopher Lascl