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By Julie Tregurtha, Head of Database & Data Management at SAP Africa

From modest beginnings at the fringes of the staggering growth of the PC market in the 1980s and 1990s that was dominated by a small handful of large vendors, open-source has become a cornerstone of modern innovation and organisational success. From global financial leaders such as JPMorgan and the London Stock Exchange backing Hyperledger to ExxonMobil releasing an open-source developer toolkit for oil and gas companies, organisations are realising the value of using open-source to drive innovation. Even the White House requires US government agencies to release 20% of any new code they commission as open-source software.

The latest Gartner data predicts that more than 70% of all new in-house applications will be developed on an open-source database management system by 2022. Open-source is a powerful driver of innovation within the modern enterprise, but there are limitations that make it difficult to scale open-source innovation projects into an enterprise-ready state.

Open-source innovation drivers

Many database management innovation projects today utilise open-source technologies during the early stages, for example Hadoop or MongoDB. The benefits are many-fold: most open-source tools can be used free of charge, and the large passionate communities supporting such tools ensure there is a wealth of documentation on best practice, general use and troubleshooting. Teams are not locked into a specific vendor and can enjoy a cost-effective environment for incubation and testing of new capabilities. Open source also circumvents lengthy sales processes by offering immediate downloads, which adds speed and convenience to innovation programmes.

Open source is by its very nature collaborative, relying on constant incremental improvements to produce extremely powerful and resilient solutions that can withstand the pressures of early-stage innovation – the internet itself is by definition a large collection of individual open-source projects. And since there’s no heavy capital investment, the risk of any given innovation project is greatly reduced as the cost of failure is minimal.

The evolution of open-source in the enterprise environment has levelled the playing field between the larger enterprises and their smaller peers. Big budgets no longer guarantee competitive advantage, and the focus has firmly shifted toward innovation as the key enabler of future success. Open-source has by and large democratised innovation to some extent.

However, while open-source is a powerful driver of innovation, many organisations are finding immense challenges when attempting to scale their innovation into an enterprise-ready state. Enter the enterprise-scale database management platform.

Scaling open-source to enterprise-ready

The divorcing of enterprise-scale database and data management platforms from broader app ecosystems now enables open-source developers to scale their innovation projects without having to get locked in to a specific vendor’s app ecosystem. SAP, for example, has uncoupled its HANA relational database management system from its broader app ecosystem to hand database administrators and internal innovation teams a powerful tool for taking innovation projects into full production.

Through the SAP Cloud Platform, teams are further able to circumvent heavy capital investment and adopt a form of Database-as-a-Service model that can significantly reduce costs without compromising on computing power or production capability.

Once innovation projects are brought into the HANA environment, in-memory capabilities enable teams to run advanced analytics alongside high-speed transactions for an accurate and up-to-date view of true performance. These real-time insights from live data increases the agility of decision-making within the enterprise, while parallel data processing delivers extreme speed.

For modern database administrators and innovation teams, open-source offers a viable, cost-effective and powerful avenue to large-scale innovation. But without an enterprise-scale platform to support it, many innovation projects will fail to go into full production as they struggle to scale effectively. Here, the power of enterprise-level database and data management platforms such as SAP HANA provide the perfect bridge between open-source and enterprise-ready.

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