SAP’s Mobile Road Map – Part II

Photo: iStockphoto
Photo: iStockphoto

At the Mobile Business Conference staged by NEO Business Partners in Berlin, Jürgen Röhricht presented an overview of SAP’s mobile strategy. Part 1 of this article, published last week, provided some basic information about SAP’s three-pillar strategy, starting with the topic of apps. Part 2 is devoted to the second and third of these pillars – the enhancements being made to SAP Mobile Platform and SAP Mobile Secure.

SAP Mobile Platform

SAP’s mobility portfolio has expanded gradually over time as the result of acquisitions. Sybase Mobiliser and Sybase Unwired Platform (SUP), which enable the development of mobile enterprise applications for both B2C and B2B/B2E, were added to the portfolio following the acquisition of Sybase in 2010. In April 2012, the portfolio was extended further by the addition of Syclo, a solution provider. Syclo’s solution offering for mobile sales, service, and inspection services is built on their Agentry platform. SAP is now merging these three solutions into SAP Mobile Platform.

Joint standards: The three solutions are based on different development concepts. “That means a certain amount of complexity for the customer,” said Röhricht. By merging the solutions, SAP is unifying these different approaches on the basis of open standards, primarily OData (Open Data), for data structures and models and for integration into backend systems. The transport protocol used as standard is http(s). According to Jürgen Röhricht, this process of standardization will help companies save on the costs of development and operation that arise when the solutions are deployed separately. “The total cost of development will fall, because joint standards mean less development effort,” he said. Consolidating the solutions on the OData standard, he added, means that companies will enjoy better interoperability compared with proprietary data models.

The future direction of SAP Mobile Platform

Status and progress of standardization: The current version is SAP Mobile Platform 2.3 Enterprise Edition, in which the Sybase Unwired Platform and Agentry technologies are merged and can be administered and operated via a single console. Alongside the Enterprise Edition, there is also a Consumer Edition for B2C applications. SAP has indicated that it will technologically unite the Consumer and Enterprise Editions in the next platform release, however, it has not yet named a precise launch date.

Next page: Bring Your Own Tools for app development

Röhricht highlighted the following advantages of the SAP Mobile Platform (SMP):

– Several applications are operated on a central infrastructure, which cuts support and operating costs. It makes no difference whether applications are implemented on HTML or as native apps, because SMP covers all the major market architectures.

– Integration with the enterprise mobility management platform SAP Afaria allows the automated roll-out of apps, including app configuration and device management. The platform also makes it possible to manage authorizations, security, encryption, offline/online capabilities, and integration into the existing IT system landscape.

– SMP is optimized for integration with SAP backend systems and can work with all existing non-SAP systems.

– SAP supports the Bring Your Own Tools concept for mobile app development. This means that developers can use the provided SDKs in the development tools that they are familiar with, including XCode, Eclipse, Sencha, Cordova, and Appcelerator Titanium.

– SAP Mobile Platform supports application scenarios in B2E, B2C, and B2B and is ready to be deployed on premise or in the cloud.

Security thanks to comprehensive enterprise mobile management

SAP Mobile Secure

SAP offers customers enterprise-grade security in the form of an end-to-end security portfolio. It therefore refers in this context to enterprise mobile management (EMM), which goes beyond the often-discussed topic of mobile device management (MDM).  “End-to-end security” does not just mean securing a mobile device; it means securing all types of apps and protecting content, said Röhricht.

Next page: The Functions of SAP Enterprise Store

SAP Mobile Secure contains the following components:

– SAP Afaria as a mobile device management (MDM) solution for securing mobile devices. SAP Afaria also makes it possible to provision and manage apps via an app portal.

– Mobile App Protection by Mocana: SAP and Mocana have entered into a reseller partnership agreement in which SAP sells on the Mocana Mobile App Protection security software that enterprises can use to set up application and security rules for iOS and Android applications. It is possible, for example, to ensure secure data transfer between wrapped apps and to set up authentication for individual apps. “This is particularly relevant in BYOD scenarios and in industries that are highly regulated,” said Röhricht.

– SAP Enterprise Store: This platform goes a step further than the Afaria app portal by allowing companies to offer custom-branded apps for download to non Afaria-managed devices, too – both as an in-house app store for the company’s own employees and for partners or their customers. Additional services include functions that are familiar from consumer app stores, including brief information about each app and options for rating them.

SAP Mobile Documents: Dropbox functions – and more

– SAP Mobile Documents: This app simplifies document exchange between local PCs and mobile devices. In addition to Dropbox functions that are familiar from the private user domain, SAP Mobile Documents can be connected with enterprise content management systems (CMS) such as SAP NetWeaver Knowledge Management or Microsoft Sharepoint. SAP Mobile Documents has extensive security functions: certificate-based authentication, encrypted document storage on mobile devices, integration with SAP Afaria, and the capability to define centrally whether on-device storage of documents is permitted or whether access is restricted to online-only.  This means that companies can issue authorizations for documents in such a way that not every user can access every file.  It is also possible to regulate how documents are used. For example, if a company stores its price list in SAP NetWeaver, sales personnel can call up the document on their mobile devices but they cannot download or e-mail it  ̶  thus avoiding the risk of outdated price lists remaining in circulation.