SAP Takes on IBM in 2013 with Simplified Enterprise Mobile Solution

Charlotte Dunlap
Charlotte Dunlap

Summary Bullets:

  • SAP’s rebranded SAP Mobile Platform integrates Sybase SUP, Syclo Agentry, and eventually all of Mobiliser
  • SAP’s go-to-market strategy is based on simplified MEAP, channel support, continued third-party development tool support

Following a whirlwind year in which SAP appeared to spend all its marketing dollars on its SAP HANA database product, SAP’s mobile platform news will be finally coming out of the shadows. Following the acquisition of Syclo early last year, the company has aggressive integration plans in 2013 aimed at simplifying and strengthening its mobile portfolio and insuring it stays on the radar of core competitors including IBM, Antenna, and eventually Oracle. 

In November, SAP quietly rebranded its flagship mobile application development platform, Sybase Unwired Platform (SUP) to SAP Mobile Platform (which has a nice ring to it, akin to IBM Mobile Foundation). The move seems appropriate, not just because the company is trying to steer away from the association of complexity that usually accompanies SUP, but because the platform is evolving into a more comprehensive mobile solution. So in the first quarter, the newly integrated mobile platform will include SUP (B2E) enterprise platform, Syclo Agentry (framework to simplify cross-platform development), and partial integration of Mobiliser (B2C) consumer platform.

Regarding Sybase SUP’s association with complexity, SAP’s Syclo acquisition and subsequent integration efforts with SUP were all about rectifying that situation. SAP has devoted a lot of manpower in recent months toward simplifying the learning curve required by developers to master the platform, on several levels. Highlights include:

  • Leveraging Syclo’s mature and simplified development framework: By combining Syclo Agentry with SUP, the new mobile portfolio now caters to developers as well as non-developers looking to build and maintain corporate applications. This capability is enabled through Syclo’s extensive experience with tools that support cross-platform device development, and not just smartphones but various devices such as those by Motorola which typically operate in the field. This is a compelling prospect to large corporations that want to move apps they’ve built over the years to mobile devices, but don’t want to write a native app for every platform for each of their web apps.
  • Soliciting channel support: The company is building up its channel program to help support new enterprise mobile projects. So its global SIs and ISVs will be on hand to help large customers, while regional SIs will help the company go after new SMB customers with their mobile app development efforts.
  • Continuing technology partnerships: SAP recognizes that early mobile adopters are knowledgeable in pure play MEAP solutions (such as those by Sencha and Appcelerator) or other popular development environments (such as Microsoft Visual Studio), and don’t want to relearn new tools and frameworks, so the company will continue to build up its partner programs to attract more of those partners’ loyal developers.

Both SAP and IBM have very different but very compelling go-to-market strategies. IBM emphasizes IBM Mobile Foundation’s strength in its mature security, integration, management, and lifecycle technologies. But both are squarely focused on taking a growing majority of enterprises from the mobile planning stage to the implementation phase this year.

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