The concept of a platform or portfolio approach to full
cycle mobile application development, application management, and device
management will likely become a dominant force in enterprise mobility in 2014. A
primary benefit of a mobile back-end platform approach is offering enterprises
a standard set of tools for mobile app development, integration with back-end
corporate applications, and security management.

I recently had an opportunity to speak with Tony Kueh, Global VP & Head of Product Management from the Mobile
Division at SAP. He gave me an overview of SAP Mobile Platform 3.0 and some insight
into SAP’s overall mobile strategy.

SAP Mobile Platform 3.0: First reactions

One very important thing about SAP
Mobile Platform 3.0 is that it’s device and tools agnostics. Organizations considering a
move to SAP Mobile Platform 3.0 don’t have to learn new development tools or
have their mobile users standardize on one mobile device or operating system.
The SAP Mobile Platform offers organizations and their developers:

  • No reengineering of processes, resources, or
    existing infrastructure
  • Focus on mobile app core services including
    onboarding configuration, life cycle management, logging, and data integration

SAP plans to add support for native, hybrid, meta-data driven, mobile web, and
SMS app architectures in the future.

The SAP Mobile Platform also has a future-proof architecture
based on open standards and open source technologies, including:

  • Offline capabilities using the Open Data Protocol (OData)
    standard
  • OSGi architecture with Spring and Equinox
    frameworks; open-source Apache Cordova container with platform plug-ins
  • HTML5 both in the product and for building apps
  • HTTP REST APIs common across the on-premise and
    cloud versions of the platform

 SAP and mobility

SAP’s mobile strategy is certainly a departure from the
strategies we assume with SAP.  Kueh
explained to me that SAP Mobile is a portfolio of five key areas:

1. Mobile security: According to Kueh, the first key area is mobile security for
employees to do any enterprise work using Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and
corporate-owned devices. SAP Mobile includes a portfolio of security products
around MDM and the mobile app management space.

2. Platform: The platform play by SAP Mobile is another key element of
the SAP Mobile portfolio. “It’s around the notion that you need a common
runtime environment for all the applications, whether it be for integration,
services, policy implementation, or multi device support. That’s where the
technology and IT is to make that easy so your incremental investments in
additional applications can be done very quickly and easily,” says Kueh.

3. Applications: “The next is our set of applications,” adds Kueh. “I think
the applications that are traditional to SAP are there, but we see a new wave
of applications that are increasing leveraging mobile to transform our thoughts
around what an application should be.” It’s important to note that SAP stopped looking at apps as
an inside/out process. SAP has broken from the established
franchise focus they’ve traditionally held with their ERP and CRM applications
with a new focus on open standard and technology agnostic back ends.

 “About a year and a
half ago, the company introduced the concept of persona-based frameworks. Instead of saying, ‘Here is the CRM system what can we extract out
of it,’ we talk about, ‘Here is the sales executive and design
applications that meet those needs,’ and then we leverage the platform to integrate
the necessary back-end content to ensure that the application is fully
functional. Technology-wise, there is a subtle difference, but from a design
perspective, it is completely different.”

4. Mobile messaging: SAP also has its own mobile messaging portfolio based on an SMS messaging
infrastructure. According to Kueh, “We are able to participate in the global exchange of the SMS network,
which allows us access to 99.8% of the mobile devices that are provisioned
on this planet.” SAP
sees messaging as a common denominator, with use cases like pushing an invite to
download applications and sending password reset information to a known device.

5. Cloud: “Finally, we have the cloud,” says Kueh. “The way we see
mobile and cloud is not mutually exclusive. As a matter of fact, often mobile is
spoken together in the same context of cloud.” Kueh explains, “Most of our large deals have a multi-backend
requirement, and the reason for that is they are enabling life of specific
individuals. They want to enable the sales team to be entirely mobile. For
that, they need to enable ERP and the CRM, which may not necessarily be SAP.” 

“And, so with all of the investment we are
making around cloud, we are leveraging as much of that as possible for mobile
deployment. We also have our mobile platform and mobile apps available in
cloud deployments in our data centers and managed by SAP or compatible with
cloud infrastructure players, such as Amazon AWS, and we offer subscription
pricing. This is a multilayer approach around cloud and SaaS that we have put
forward in the last 12 months.”

Kueh also told me that SAP Mobile customers are no longer
only large enterprises, and their customers buy into the SAP Mobile stack in a
variety of ways. After my discussion with Kueh, it’s easy now for me
to see that mobile moves quicker with SAP and could be quite disruptive (in a
positive way) to the staid side of their enterprise software business.

Conclusion

SAP Mobile Platform 3.0 can help enterprises develop,
launch, and manage a mobile strategy that accommodates tablet and smartphone
users without the challenges of mixing and matching infrastructure solutions.
SAP Mobile does have a 30-day trial available if you want to explore the platform further.

Is your organization considering a platform solution for
mobile app development, MDM, and security in 2014? Let us know in the discussion thread below.