SAP Mobile Platform 3.0 unites platforms and allows developers to build tailored apps using open standards. The story doesn’t end there.
When Dirk Boessmann watches his 12-year-old son play with his smartphone, he sees the future of communication: “E-mails and Web sites are passé,” says Boessman, who studied communications engineering. His son uses WhatsApp to chat with his friends. “He thinks apps,” says his father, vice president of Mobile Development at SAP.
SAP also ‘thinks apps,’ and just a few weeks ago it presented its new mobile platform strategy that will make apps easier to build.
SAP Mobile Platform 3.0: Taking the best and creating something new
All systems running on older technology stacks, such as the e-commerce platform Sybase Unwired Platform, Sybase Mobilizer Platform for B2C applications, Syclo Agentry middleware, and Integration Gateway are now on SAP Mobile Platform 3.0.
“We have unified their capabilities,” says Boessmann, “We’ve taken the best and created something new.” Customers now have one a single platform for all their mobile apps. This means that their IT staff can spend less time on stack administration and more time on driving innovation. “Developing apps has never been easier,” says Boessmann, who previously headed SAP’s Rapid Innovation Group.
The end result: an app that works in any browser. The next step is where Apache Cordova comes in. It enables the app to receive the authorizations required from an interface. The native app is now ready for consumers and is deployable on Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android, and Windows 8 devices. “For tablets and smartphones, customers are not only able to send push notifications and incorporate the app user’s location data. They will soon be able to use the apps offline as well,” says Boessmann.
Simplification as top priority
Security standards for accessing company networks, for example, can now be handled much more simply. What used to require 1,000 lines of code can now be done in just 50 lines by abstracting authentication to allow single sign-on. There is also a new algorithm that automatically encrypts the cache. According to Boessman, these new functions reflect the overarching goal of simplifying processes.
Special tools, such as SAP UI5 and Sencha tools, are required to develop hybrid apps like these. “In the past, a whole range of tools were used to build apps, which made everything seem proprietary,” Boessmann explains. SAP’s new Bring-Your-Own-Tool (BYOT) strategy aims to put an end to that. Though developers do not have to use an SAP tool, there are standards. Besides BYOT, the SAP River Rapid Development Environment enables developers to build Fiori apps in the cloud using SAP UI5. This browser-based, end-to-end tool can be used instead of Eclipse, Appbuilder, and other tools.
Software development kits: updates no longer required
SAP Mobile Platform 3.0 has new software development kits (SDK) that are easier to use. Only new apps are created in the latest version. Existing apps only have to be updated “if they otherwise would no longer work,” says Boessmann. This simplification was brought about by separating client and server, and saves customers time and license fees.
British energy company National Grid and 20 other companies participated in SAP Mobile Platform 3.0 ramp-up. Their verdict: “This is the right path to take, especially with regard to open architecture, but customers still feel that a few functions are missing,” says Boessmann. Offline functionality being one of them. Boessmann believes that the platform’s modular design gives it the flexibility required to deliver more functions quickly.
The next level: context-aware apps
The future is context-aware apps. They switch off a sales employee’s smartphone at night if they have met their quota. Or they function in certain locations only. They can recognize, for instance, that the user is logging into an untrusted WiFi and respond by restricting the range of functions available. And they can use nearby sensors for their functions. “That leads to our next challenge,” says Boessmann, “Big Data.” Sounds like a job for SAP HANA.