SAP isn't the first company that comes to mind when one says the words "open source," having (in)famously deprecated open source at the Open Source Business Conference a few years back. SAP simply hasn't had to deal with open source as a clear and present danger, and probably won't for a very long time.
Still, the company hasn't completely dropped its open-source interest, registering it this week by announcing a significant contribution to Eclipse:
As part of its commitment to support the open-source developer community, SAP AG today announced that for the first time it will contribute software development capabilities to the Eclipse community. This new tool will enable developers to build more efficient enterprise applications within Eclipse, the leading open source integrated development environment (IDE). All Java developers will be able to benefit from memory analyzer capabilities within Eclipse that were previously available only for the SAP NetWeaver technology platform. This signals a deeper commitment from SAP for Eclipse technology, beyond its long-standing support for the Eclipse IDE and plug-ins, which help developers connect Eclipse with SAP business process applications.
SAP has been involved with Eclipse since its inception, but this is (so far as I can remember) the first big open-source contribution that it has made. To anyone. Sure, it partnered with MySQL over MaxDB four years ago, and it has invested in several open-source companies, but these are peripheral to actually digging deeply into open source.
Eclipse provides a safe environment for SAP to get its feet wet with open source. Eclipse, as, is an ideal platform for a proprietary company like SAP to engage its competitors, customers, and partners. This is a good move on SAP's part.
Vorwärts und aufwärts!