SAP courts developers with new license, tools, open-source contributions

SAP's HANA in-memory platform figures prominently in the new announcements, which include the long-awaited launch of River

SAP has made a series of announcements aimed at bringing more software developers into its fold, making their jobs easier and bolstering the reach of its HANA in-memory computing platform.

The most significant changes include a new, unified developer license that covers a wide range of SAP technologies, and the long-awaited launch of the cloud-based River application development toolset for SAP's HANA in-memory computing platform.

River is "a key first step toward reimagining and dramatically simplifying the experience of application development," said executive board member Vishal Sikka in a statement released Wednesday.

SAP has been talking about River since at least mid-2010, and Sikka said at the time that work had been ongoing for about 18 months. The subsequent, rapid emergence of HANA as the focal point for all of SAP's new product development may have required development teams to switch gears.

River will provide for "increased developer productivity through a simpler development process," SAP said in a statement.

But River still isn't generally available, as Wednesday's announcement referred to a "regional test drive" of the toolset. The River website asks those interested in the early adopter program to select from Europe, Asia and the U.S.

Also Wednesday, SAP announced that it was contributing parts of its SAPUI5 framework as open-source code under the Apache 2.0 license. The code is available on Github.

SAP has also developed an open-source service broker for the Cloud Foundry PaaS (platform as a service) that allows Cloud Foundry applications to connect to HANA.

Finally, SAP announced a closed beta for a new edition of PowerBuilder, the application development tools it gained through the acquisition of Sybase in 2010.

"This is a compound announcement of multiple things, but what ties them together, mostly, is HANA, which is what you would expect from SAP of course," said IDC analyst Al Hilwa, via email. "It is great to see SAP tying together a lot of loose ends and HANA is giving them an important point of focus that they have been able to build momentum around."

Support for Cloud Foundry is "an important future bet," while continued work on PowerBuilder "is important for a significant community of loyal developers," Hilwa added.

The launch of River is significant, according to Hilwa. "It is deeply integrated with HANA and like all such abstracted environments promises just the right blend of productivity and flexibility," he said. "It will be interesting to see how they position River in the cloud and if they can challenge Salesforce's Force.com momentum."

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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