SAP is hoping to sow more seeds of interest in its newest technologies, including the HANA in-memory database, through a new online training program available at no charge.
Dubbed openSAP, the program's first course will provide an introduction to developing software on top of HANA, and is scheduled to begin May 27, according to the openSAP website.
It's not surprising that HANA is openSAP's first area of focus, given that SAP is positioning it as the go-forward platform for all of its development efforts.
HANA places data in RAM rather than reading it off of disks, delivering performance that SAP has described as astounding. While initially aimed at analytic processing, HANA also supports transactional workloads and has been ported to SAP's Business Suite.
Future courses could focus on SAP's mobility software, cloud applications and other areas.
Course registration, access to content and the final exam are free of charge, but "courses that focus on software development may require that you access fee-based system environments," according to the openSAP website.
They are offered in English and will last between five and seven weeks, according to a FAQ document. Successful participants will receive a "record of achievement" signed by the course instructor, according to the site.
"SAP has actually opened up to informal learning for a while," said Jon Reed, an independent analyst and expert on SAP's certification and training efforts. Reed cited the example of SAP's HANA Academy video vault and courses offered through the Hasso Plattner Institute's openHPI platform.
Plattner is the co-founder and chairman of SAP, and openSAP will rely on "technology and know-how" from his institute, according to an SAP statement.
However, "openSAP is promising as it marks the first time that SAP Education itself seems to be collaborating on informal education," Reed added, referring to SAP's training division.
While SAP "has a long way to go integrating informal learning, community recognition and field-tested certifications, on balance I'd say this is a good day for SAP Education and a good look for SAP," Reed said.
Another observer also praised SAP's move.
"Anything which enables people to consume information in the way they're comfortable [is good]," said John Appleby, global head of HANA at consultancy Bluefin Solutions and who, like Reed, is an SAP mentor, the designation given to especially active members of the vendor's ecosystem. "It doesn't replace other types of education, it's an option."