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SAP has lowered formerly-forbidding barriers for mobile developers to build within its ecosystem.

Here’s the announcement from Monday. It boils down to four things:

1) A free 30-day trial to SAP’s lauded mobile app development platform, SUP, and the market-leading SAP ERP application;

2) Access to the above software, including a downloadable SDK, via the Amazon Web Services hosted service (hosting fees with AWS still apply);

3) A new, simpler partner program for mobile developers, including the ability to sell their apps via the SAP Store at an attractive 85:15 split in their favor;

4) New ways for mobile developers using the popular Adobe PhoneGap, Appcelerator Titanium and Sencha Touch platforms to connect and exchange data with the SAP mobile platform.

For more, read the FAQ by SAP mobile evangelist Ian Thain or watch the recorded webcast.

Some observers criticized the use of AWS as being kludgy and not being free for developers. But initial reaction has been mostly positive:

Adrian Bridgwater, Dr. Dobbs: “SAP’s mobile technology strategy has ratcheted up a gear this week with the launch of a new glut of developer services and industry interconnections.”

Rick Whiting, CRN: “The latest efforts build on a series of announcements SAP made at its Sapphire Now conference in May where company executives touted channel opportunities around the SAP Mobile Platform and Afaria mobile device management software.”

Dave Courbanou, Channelnomics: “SAP’s success remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: SAP is making an aggressive push into the US marketplace and its surrounding trends. Stay tuned.”

 

“Providing free license and access to community resources for mobile developers is a key step in expanding SAP’s developer eco-system”, says Thorsten Franz, Enterprise Architect at AOK Systems and SAP Mentor. “It adds value both to customers that will benefit from extended innovation and to developers making their engagement easier and affordable. Developers can easily start developing business mobile apps with the SAP Mobile Platform, hone their skills to mobilize existing applications,  create new apps – ultimately forming a business for themselves”.

Courtney Bjorlin, ASUG News: “Paying special attention to developers is a crucial piece of SAP’s strategy for mobile, HANA, cloud and the newer area of APIs, says (SAP’s David) Brutman, who helps head a team formed in the last few months solely to engage, interact with and recruit developers (a task that used to be handled by each product team).”

Reed also told TechTarget that letting developers retain the intellectual property, i.e. the apps, that they build using the free trial of the SAP platform or sell through the SAP Store for Mobile Apps was a big deal. “They’ve conquered the IP ownership issue, which is no small feat for SAP.”

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There will be four SAP webinars focusing on how to use mobile in different industries, including distribution, utilities, finance and chemicals. Sign up here.

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  1. John Moy

    Hi Eric,

    Just to add my thoughts.  I’m pretty happy with these announcements and the general trajectory of where SAP is going with this.  I’m also really sad that this thinking wasn’t applied one year earlier, because I think SAP would be much more dominant in Enterprise Mobility if it had.  I think Sanjay Poonen has driven the right changes in this space, and I credit him and others such as John Wargo for taking a heightened focus on developers.

    In relation to the AWS commentary, I’m taking a glass half full perspective on that.  I’m quite a convert to AWS actually (I’ve shared my thoughts in a series of blogs starting with this ).  If we consider the SAP world, in the past I was used to always running a local ABAP server on my laptop.  As the years went by, I found this to be sub-optimal for my needs as laptop upgrade cycles would get in the way, and also laptop drives as we know can fail (which brings added work and complexities of backups etc.).  Now I use Macs (and have for the past three years ever since I became an iOS developer) and of course you can’t run an SAP ABAP instance on that, unless you go to the trouble of installing a Windows virtualised environment on your Mac (which itself consumes resources).  So I actually think AWS is a good option for me, even with the (relatively modest) costs, which in my country is tax deductible.  I can ramp up or down the system resource (CPU/memory etc.) on demand, I can backup my instance with a right click, and I can connect via a free Windows Remote Desktop Client (with acceptable performance) or via a Java SAPGUI.  Now lets consider the SUP on AWS use-case (which is a completely different proposition than an SAP ABAP instance).  I think that SUP on AWS is completely fine and appropriate.  MOST developers will simply use SUP in the nature of an authentication service and secure reverse proxy, consuming OData feeds via NetWeaver Gateway.  If we assume they won’t work on the server side, and the appropriate business logic / resources are exposed to them (a big assumption, I admit), then really these developers will be mainly concerned with crafting the mobile UI layer (and from my experience, this is where much of the time is invested).  But even with SUP on AWS, this client-side work can be accomplished locally, using a local SDK and IDE (eg. XCode for iOS).  So I think with SUP on AWS, most of the actual time spent won’t be on that server, but on your local machine crafting the app.  Sure, if you take the path of Mobile Business Objects in SUP you will spend some upfront time modelling your objects, but after you generate the baseline client code from that you are once again in the land of building client-side apps, which can be accomplished locally.  Also, SUP on AWS means you have the added benefit of easily testing your mobile app OUTSIDE the confines of your home network (assuming you are not exposing your home WiFi network), in real-world situations where network connections can fail (eg. when you are on a train going into a tunnel … which is something I have done several times).  Of course I am a supporter of mobile platforms being available in the cloud generally, as I have blogged about that in the past as well.

    That said, I think the most interesting challenge will be what REST APIs / services these developers will actually be able to tap into.  Lets say for instance they connect their SUP on AWS to the ES Workplace (which is a full SAP instance).  That has some services exposed but not nearly enough in my mind … but SAP can easily fix that, and I assume will in the course of time.

    That’s my 2 cents anyway.  I feel in any case we are in a much better place than we were one year ago.  The trajectory is heading the right way, let’s hope it keeps heading that way, and fast.

    Regards

    John

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  2. John Moy

    I forgot to add …

    If the new SUP AWS image includes the preloaded Android / Blackberry emulators and SDKs which the 30-day free trial image did, then this is also a good thing.  From my experience it TAKES TIME to download all these things and install them on a local machine – sometimes the whole process can take half a day or more.  Having this available on demand to developers is time saved, and that in itself has value (and helps to offset any AWS costs).

    Regards

    John

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    1. Eric Lai Post author

      John – very thoughtful and comprehensive comments, thanks! And I’m glad to hear at least one developer/Mentor weigh in that AWS is a good option for them. I wasn’t anywhere remotely involved in the decisionmaking process, but I am sure my colleagues at SAP gave this a lot of thought and wanted to present as good of an option to everyone as possible.

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