Android and the Enterprise

At the end of 2011, SAP Transport Notification and Status for Android became available in the SAP Store and the SAP EcoHub solution marketplace. Now the new app is also available through the Android Market, Google’s app store for all devices running the Android OS. With the release of this native Android app, SAP is following through on its commitment to support all mobile devices and platforms.

SAP Transport Notification and Status for Android is a new mobile app for supply chain management. It allows truck drivers to see a list of assigned and open freight orders, access details of an order like the freight units and planned stops, and check the route on a map. The app provides users with map and navigation functions via Google Maps and the smartphone’s GPS capability. In addition, truck drivers can confirm an order, input departure and arrival information for each stop, and report delays along the route. The notifications are sent from the app to the backend transportation application, giving suppliers and manufacturers transparency into the movement of goods. You can see a demo of the app here.

Currently, the app is supported in Austria, Australia, Canada, Switzerland, China, Germany, France, the U.K., India, Mexico, and the U.S.A. To use the app, you need to have SAP Transportation Management 8.0, enhancement package 1 for SAP Event Management 7.1, and SAP NetWeaver 7.02 installed in the backend. SAP NetWeaver Gateway 2.0 SP2 and Sybase Unwired Platform (SUP) 2.1 provide the connection to the mobile device. Your Android-based device must be running Android 2.2 or later.

You can find all native Android apps from SAP in the SAP Store and the SAP EcoHub solution marketplace by filtering for the Android OS. SAP partners also have developed Android apps, some of which are offered through the Partner Mobility App Catalog. Partners interested in creating native Android apps should take a look at this Wiki page on SAP Developer Network (SDN) or join the SUP apps group on SDN.

Despite the many resources available for developing apps on the Android mobile platform, the majority of business apps today are still created for iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad. Keep reading to find out why.

Android seen as security risk

Although Forrester Research estimates that 60 percent of companies now support a “bring your own device” policy, Android-based devices only make up 21 percent of total smartphones used in the workplace. BlackBerry use is at 32 percent and Apple is in the lead, with 45 percent of the smartphones in the workplace being iPhones. The slow enterprise adoption of the Android OS is especially surprising because Android-based devices command 52.5 percent of the worldwide smartphone market, according to Gartner.

Most companies seem to shy away from Android-based devices for security reasons. In today’s mobile workplace, smartphones are commonly used to access and update business data in the backend system from any location. This process is made secure via an integrated IPsec VPN client, which encrypts sensitive business data before sending.

Unlike the iPhone, however, Android-based devices don’t currently support an integrated IPsec VPN client. Instead, the Android VPN client is based on PPTP and L2TP, a less secure connection since data isn’t always encrypted before it is sent. This should change in the coming year. In 2012, integrated IPsec VPN clients are expected to be provided for Android-based devices. Perhaps this prove to be the turning point in the adoption of Android OS by the enterprise.