SAP inks open-source database deal

Business applications vendor SAP AG is putting increased muscle behind the open-source movement, which could ultimately allow enterprise resource application customers to more easily deploy Linux and similar technology as the flavour of choice for their databases.

In an announcement Wednesday, SAP said it is partnering with Sweden-based open-source database maker MySQL AB to share sales and technology resources. As part of this partnership, SAP will allow MySQL to collaborate in the development and resale of its database.

“MySQL will have stewardship of the product,” said Faheem Ahmed, director of market strategy and collaborative solutions at SAP. That means MySQL development and management tools will be able to work with SAP DB, ultimately helping to cut down on the cost of administration, Ahmed said.

SAP will continue to support existing and new SAP DB installations, and MySQL plans to assist in future tasks such as developing application programming interfaces and testing SAP DB to ensure that it remains true to industry standards.

According to Martin Mickos, CEO of MySQL, SAP DB will be renamed and marketed by his company by the third quarter of the year, and both products will interoperate. He said the SAP DB line will continue to exist “for a long time.” The changes will also allow MySQL to exploit some of SAP DB’s technologies and slash the time to market for new features in the MySQL product.

In terms of open-source support, SAP is putting itself ahead of rivals such as Pleasanton, Calif.-based PeopleSoft Inc., which recently announced Linux support for its product line, said Stacey Quandt, an analyst at Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc.

Not only will the deal allow MySQL to support features already familiar to SAP users; it also will give customers more choices when selecting a database to support their ERP applications, said Quandt. For instance, rather than going with Oracle Corp.’s more expensive database, they can use Linux. This also builds on SAP’s commitment to open-source, which has been in place since 1999, she said.

At first glance, it sounds like there is potential for the deal to enrich the features of SAP DB, said Charlie Brann, SAP administrator at Swisslog Translogic Corp. in Denver. The company, which makes material-handling systems, runs SAP R/3 software and SAP DB. Although Brann doesn’t have much interest in going to a Linux database right now, he said the changes could at least open up SAP DB to management technologies outside of what SAP currently provides or to management by basic commands in DOS.