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SAP Mobility Video Podcast - Summer Roundup + TechEd Questions

Mobility is one of the key areas SAP is banking its future on, with 100 million Euros set as a revenue goal for 2011 as a combination of mobility, HANA, and on-demand revenues. But the growth opportunities SAP anticipates in mobility bring organizational challenges as well. With HANA stealing most of the Sapphire Now headlines, important mobilty questions lingered after the event. To get to the bottom of those, I taped a three way video podcast with fellow SAP Mentors John Appleby and Kevin Benedict. During this 40 minute video spiced with a bit of sassiness, we hashed out the burning SAP mobility questions and also discussed what SAP needs to pull off in TechEd season for it to be deemed a success from a mobility perspective.

I’ll embed the video here. Below, you can see a bunch of summary comments, additional links, and other consumption options:

Dennis Howlett, my video partner/ video wizard, is working on some shortened versions of this video shoot for posting on You can see part one here. The audio-only optimized sound file will be posted on the JonERP iTunes feed shortly. You can also download the SAP mobility audio file (right-click).

To get more flavor for the views expressed in the view, be sure to track John’s blog and Kevin’s as well. Both contribute to the mobility section on SCN from time to time as well.

As usual with JonERP podcasts, I have put together some detailed summary notes if you want to skim the highlights here.

Video Podcast Highlights

:50 John’s lingering mobility questions
: The nice thing about Sapphire was that it laid out a strategy and a roadmap that we hadn’t seen publicly prior to that. But there were questions: when is this product ready for primetime and implementation? What is the gap between roadmap strategy and implementation? How are the mobility projects going to converge on an overall platform? And how are SAP going to monetize mobility, and will customers buy a platform from SAP since they are used to buying solutions?

2:30 Kevin: Mobility is a top three IT priority, but there is a huge difference between everybody wanting mobility at the line of business and corporate IT knowing what to do across the enterprise. Across the enterprise these guys are still frozen. Everyone is implementing mobility at the line of business, but corporate IT is still struggling with it. It’s going to take a lot of apps on the Sybase Unwired Platform, but before that, I think people are going to be frozen.

3:54 John: We’re starting to see a shift. We’re building out 14 potential mobility use cases for one of SAP’s largest customers, trying to align the apps strategy with what they will build themselves. That is being driven by corporate IT, and I think that’s because of the high level of demand from Line of Business that you described Kevin.

4:40 Jon to the guys: So are customers clear on what SAP’s roadmap is? I’m clearer on the apps coming from SAP then I am on the roadmap. I’m still not clear on SUP 2.0 versus what’s coming in SUP 2.1, how Gateway fits in, etc? John: Yes I think customers are confused, but there is clarity in SAP’s messaging that isn’t hitting the market, and that’s where local SAP offices come into play. To really understand an organizations’ mobility strategy, you have to understand the line of business demand and make it coherent. Kevin: they have to have a LOB strategy before middleware makes sense at all; they have to get the aggregate demand from the business units figured out. From there, they can reverse engineer the middleware needs to support the demand. Afaria in mobile device security and data security is a no-brainer, everyone believes they need Afaria or some equivalent, it’s where SUP fits in that gets confusing. John: There isn’t a clear understanding of Afaria’s capabilities here in the UK. They understand the need for more devices, but then, along with that comes the need for better device management.

7:55 Kevin: As you said and I said earlier, device management is a no-brainer, but what do you do beyond that with synchronization, etc. Companies seem to understand security more than the other mobile middleware issues. John: line of business demand for mobility can be very strong, including "we’re going with or without you." And IT says, we’ve got security, governance, and synchronization concerns." So they need a cohesive sense of line of business demand. Kevin: in the SAP mobility vendor ecosystem with partners, we’re hearing different numbers - we’re hearing 19 mobile apps, or 40, or 100 new SAP or Sybase apps coming out. In my discussions with the ISV community, I’ve seen many of these ISVs stepping back because they’ve heard about 100 apps coming out and they aren’t sure where to fill the gaps or add value, and they don’t want to end up competing with SAP. I’ve talked to several mobility ISVs taking a pause.

10:33 Jon to Kevin: so isn’t that a serious problem, if SAP has said partners will build 80-90 percent of the apps, how does that get resolved? John: in the past, with industry solutions, this was very similar. SAP will build out the apps, and then partners will build around that, and then in some cases be acquired. Kevin: It depends on what SAP wants to do. If they really want the ISV and the ecosystem to be aggressively building out apps now, they need to be a lot more clear on what they are going to develop and what they are not. Jon: Last time I heard there were 2 apps, on SUP 2.0. Built by SAP, and then numbers around 20-30 in the apps store including partners. EcoHub is the current apps store for mobility apps. Kevin: "Enterprise Apps Store" is a dominant term in the discussion with SAP. They believe it’s an infrastructure and framework for thousands of apps down the road, which will include a store. They are really making a big deal of about building a platform to support these apps.

14:00 Jon to Kevin: SUP 2.0 this is in ramp-up now, with SUP 2.1 coming in September. John: SUP 2.0 is coming out in GA anytime now. At Sapphire, we heard a September timeline to go into ramp-up with 2.1, and that’s the Gateway supported release. My sense is that SUP 2.1 is the real "coming of age." Kevin: At Sapphire, Nick Brown told us a few apps are coming out now, and then 16 more with the HTML5 wrapper in 2.1. Most of the apps we saw at Sapphire were built on the 2.1 platform. John: From an apps perspective, we’re looking at next Sapphire for when we’ll hopefully have a big batch of apps on this new platform.

16:19 Jon to the guys: So what’s your take on Gateway and its impact on mobility, or is it more HTML5 and general SUP 2.1 stuff? John: Gateway here and HTML5 go hand in hand with SUP. If you want to build an online value app from a live system, the Gateway/HTML5 combo will be golden. With more heavy duty apps, SUP will come into play with deeper user experience, complex enterprise apps with offline capabilities. Kevin: In Australia, there is a big emphasis on the need to do offline and online synchronization. There are still connectivity issues in many countries, so if you need apps from a global perspective that work in all areas, all those areas require rich clients that can operate offline/online. Startups in the states blow that off sometimes, but I believe you absolutely need that. John: that’s not going to go away in the short term or even in the mid-term. Plus there are data replication choices with the SUP platform. There are two options, one is data replication from a database table into the mobile device, and we also have the MBO option, to use existing SAP functions to push it out to the device. If you’re using the MBO, you still need the NetWeaver Mobile platform, so that’s not going away anytime soon.

19:43 Kevin to John: So what’s happening with NetWeaver Mobile - what’s happening and how is it going to be absorbed into SUP? John: It may not be so easy to just compile NetWeaver Mobile into the SUP platform and compile it. The NetWeaver Mobile orchestration engine handles some complexity. They are focusing on HTML5, Odata support with Gateway, and apps, and they are not focusing as much on NetWeaver Mobile in the meantime, and that makes sense. Kevin to John: so is there a viable alternative to SUP? John: Well there are other vendors with point solutions and platforms, but within the SAP space, the SUP platform is the main option. Our projects on SUP are going along. The issue is: how do you afford the platform?

22:15: Jon: Let’s look ahead to TechEd and engaging developers: should SAP go the Apple route? Should they give the platform away? Kevin: They charge for NetWeaver and they are going to need to charge for this. I started using the predecessor to Sybase Unwired Platform in 2004 and we did 200 mobility solutions back then and it was worth the OEM license. Whatever model they use, there is a great deal of value. But the challenge is, outside of an application, people don’t see a value in mobile middleware. I would suggest SAP ties the fees they need for SUP into an actual app. John: I’m going even stronger than that. The demand now is from the line of business and the consumption model for consumers have changed, they are used to paying dollars per app or dollars per month. I think that SAP can’t afford to think they will monetize the platform. That’s not how they monetize the Business Suite either, they do it by user. To try to charge by the platform goes against how SAP traditionally has sold. I truly believe they should create the apps store, create it quick, and start charging dollars per apps per month. Kevin: and if they can be clear that there are opportunities for ISVs, they should be clear on what those are. John: ISVs will wilingly pay like Apple charges in exchange for validation.

26:22 Jon to the guys: What will make a successful TechEd from a mobility angle? John: TechEd is all about developer enablement. They want deep dives and hands on. Kevin: I share those views and at the same time, I’d say we need answers. If you can lay out an answer and say here’s the use case, and here’s the working models so you are getting them in a position so they can executive and implement. If you simply say there are a thousand ways you can do it, that doesn’t help. But if you give them a few viable options they can bring back to their companies, they can make a buying decision and start executing. This way, you’re directing people down a guided path. Jon: I would go one step further. I think SAP is making a bit more time on the glamorous long term vision. Here’s the practical use cases that add value right now, here’s what partners can do, here’s the customer options for buying currently.

30:00 Kevin: On my blog, I said that Sybase has to be very clear on what they will support. They can’t be fuzzy. You can’t say Afaria supports Microsoft if you don’t support Windows Phone 7. You can’t say you support all Android devices, they need to narrow it down to what is supported now. This helps the buyer to make a clear decision. It helps the companies who are actually implementing. John: I’ve seen some roadmap slides that have Playbook on them, why even invest in a platform  that was dead before it was born?

31:50 Jon: It will be interesting to see how Sybase presents itself to bloggers, analysts, and customers. We had some good dialogue with Sybase at Sapphire, I hope it continues. Kevin: I’m seeing a lot of progress. Our good natured ribbing or criticism should not be mistaken for lack of progress, there has been quite a lot of it. John: SUP 2.0 is a platform in which we are delivering projects, and that’s a big change from 1.5. Jon: There seems to be a coordinated effort across all SAP releases and how mobility developments with Sybase are trickling into all the platforms in a coordinated way, and BusinessObjects integrated into SUP in the next six months, that’s what we’re looking for.

35:00 Jon: I think SAP will argue is that it’s not easy to manage the landscape. I think SAP will argue that landscape management and integration to back end ERP data is the key added value. Kevin: I’d like to see more on Sybase 365 and how it fits into everything, outside the western economies you see a huge demand for SMS based business apps, and how do some of the Sybase apps like Afaria work in the cloud? How does that fit into the model as well? John: For me, it’s everything we discussed. For TechEd, it’s all about getting the developers to use the  product. Getting clear on the roadmap. That level of honesty within the unwired platform will reap huge benefits. Getting 2.1 out and getting the apps out is key. Jon ends with a TechEd teaser.

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