Two weeks ago SAP announced that it will acquire Sybase, the leading company for enterprise mobility. Many people criticized this move because of the huge amount of money SAP will spend. msc mobile and I work with Sybase Mobile solutions since a while and therefore I can fully understand SAP. With this series of blogs I want to introduce Sybase’ Enterprise Mobile Application Platform Sybase Unwired Platform (SUP).
SUP is not only the bases for the SAP/Sybase co-innovated applications Sybase Mobile Sales for SAP CRM and Sybase Mobile Workflow for SAP Business Suite, but also a platform on which SAP customers can create their own mobile solutions.
SUP as a platform can not only be used to mobilize SAP, but all kind of enterprise systems and it has multiple connectors to access these systems. As most companies run other systems next to SAP, the clear benefit is that with SUP you can mobilize your whole enterprise and not only SAP. SUP also includes Afaria, the market leading device management system from Sybase.
If you will decide to mobilize SAP with Sybase Unwired Platform, you have the choice of multiple ways how to access SAP:
1. Web Service – SUP can read and write to SOAP Web Services. Modern SAP systems are equipped with a huge amount of pre-defined Web Services and SUP can leverage them. Of course you can write your own web services and mobilize them too.
2. RFC – the SUP middleware server is Java based and can be connected to SAP via the SAP Java-Connector (JCo)
These two ways have in common that SUP is replicating the required data from within SAP to the middleware. This has the benefit that there is less load on the SAP system, as data has to be pulled from SAP only once and that it is distributed to the mobile devices from the SUP middleware. The same concept applies if you access non-SAP systems via either JDBC (direct access to a database) or JCA (Java Connector Architecture).
3. DOE Connector – SUP can connect to the NetWeaver Mobile 7.1 middleware (aka DOE – Data Orchestration Engine) via the Mobile Gateway. The Mobile Gateway is an ABAP AddOn developed and shipped by SAP. It was developed to have a standardized way how SAP partners like Sybase or RIM can access the NetWeaver Mobile middleware. The staging of data in this scenario is done by the DOE server, not by SUP. As soon as new data arrives on the DOE, it is pushed via Web Service to the SUP server, from which it is again pushed to the mobile devices. This way it is possible to implement an end-to-end push from SAP to the mobile device and back. You can learn more about the NetWeaver Mobile 7.1 middleware http://blog.msc-mobile.com/2008/10/21/1224620880000.htmlhere and http://blog.msc-mobile.com/2008/11/04/1225833780000.htmlhere.
The following figure gives a high level overview of the landscape:
I cannot give you a clear answer which of these connectors to SAP you should use. Each one has its pros and cons – the DOE Connector is the most powerful one and you can benefit from the distribution rules within the DOE, but at the same time it comes with the most complex landscape and administration. The Web Service and RFC connectors are simpler, but also come with a few limitations. I would recommend them for small and less complex scenarios.
So why use SUP instead of NetWeaver Mobile?
First, SUP supports more client platforms out of the box. While NetWeaver Mobile only supports Windows and Windows Mobile, SUP can connect to Blackberry, iPhone/iPad, Windows Mobile and Windows 32 and 64bit. Support for Android is planned for the future.
Second, you are able to do native development for each platform and therefore use the full power of each of them (read why I think that this is a good idea here).
Next week I will introduce the SUP 1.5 development tools. See you then!