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The iPad is the must have gadget in the enterprise world. I wonder if customers and SAP are able to support a complete new device with the current portal infrastructure. 

One of my customers, an international Pharmaceutical company is doing a large HR implementation.  One of the requirements is to use an iPad to access the HR service through the portal. The global sales organisation has decided to replace the current notebooks with iPads. This means that all functionality that is current available in the portal solution need to be accessible through an iPad. The current HR portal runs more than 50 standard and custom made HR services; these are accessible for different roles in the organisation.

I have been working with SAP and web technology for the last 15 years and this was the first time I had to take a closer look at the SAP mobile landscape. SAP has done a big push in mobile space using mobile apps. In the area of HR there are a total of 8 HR mobile apps delivered by SAP and number of other apps delivered by SAP content partners.

Mobile apps require new investments in the hardware/software and skills. The native mobile apps are written in the programming languages Objective-C, C, C++ or JavaScript. Normally you don’t find the skills in departments that support SAP IT systems.  Departments that support SAP system have skills in ABAP, ABAP WebDynpro, Business Server Pages and maybe some Java, but no Objective-C, C, C++ or JavaScript.

This customer just migrated from a custom HR portal solution to a standard SAP Portal solution. If they want to have access to same functionality that current is available in the portal they need create a large number of mobile applications. This means back to custom build and a built a team that can support these new programming languages and technologies.

The alternative is to make the portal available through the Safari browser on an iPad. SAP has a solution called “Portal on Device”. The “Portal on Device” creates a menu which can be used to access the portal through an iPad, but it doesn’t mean you can run your ABAP WebDynpro, Business Service Pages and Java WebDynpro without any issues.  For example if you start Java WebDynpro services than you get the error that WebDynpro can’t be run with this version of your browser. The ABAP WebDynpro can be started, but you are unable to select any items from the dropdown list which makes the application not working correctly. If you ask SAP why the standard SAP web technology is not working correctly on an iPad you get unclear answers and you are redirected to the product availability matrix (PAM).

I understand the SAP’s point of view that they want to maximum return on their investments in the SAP mobile platform, but do they think about the investment made by their clients in the portal/web scenarios build on top of standard SAP web technology?

I would like SAP to do the right thing and make the standard SAP web technology available through the safari browser on an iPad.

Join the fight! 😉

Independent Senior SAP Portal Consultant

Onno Bos

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15 Comments

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  1. James Ibbotson

    Hi,

    We run ESS/MSS and SRM via SAP portal.

    If you are on the latest EP patch and back end ABAP stack release the issues mentioned are fixed, and you can remove the SAP browser block. 

    If need be i can book annual leave via WDJ on my ipad, view my pay slip and 99% of most of the daily tasks needed.

    You can also tweek the settings on both the SAP Portal and ABAP backend to allow Safari access which we have done, as we have a wide MAC community.

    Although not 99% perfect ESS/MSS/SRM/E-Recruitment which are our SAP Portal deployed applications work fine with both Chrome and safari.

    We have used this without issue a 6000+ sap HCM user base

    Cheers

    James

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    1. Onno Bos Post author

      Hi James,

      Thanks for the comments. What tweaks did you make on the SAP portal and backend to allow Safari access on your iPad?

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          1. James Ibbotson

            HI James. If you read the SNOTE it contains the SDA files and patch levels required for any 7.0 Portal. Have Applied it to our 7.02 one without problems. You need to be on the correct patch levels though.

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      1. James Ibbotson

        Hi Simon that’s correct.

        The stipulation is that you have to be on your companies WIFI or behind its firewall using VPN.

        Its not slick but it works.

        If you have a look at my profile i’ve written a quick blog about it.

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  2. Bernhard Escherich

    Hi Onno,

    thanks for sharing your hand-on experiences.

    I have implemented many ESS/ MSS portals in the past and I am proud of the portals we created then. But as a matter of fact many users in projects now demand a “real” mobile experiences via apps.

    I completly agree with you that investments should be protected but the standard HR apps like the leave request app enable this without the need that skills in JavaScript ect. need to be built up.

    I am looking forward to future blogs from you about your experiences.

    Best regards,

    Bernhard

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    1. Onno Bos Post author

      Dear Bernhard,

      I think it is much broader demand than just a demand for “real” mobile experiences. I think there is a demand for accessing great HR services without the limitation of a time and place. Customers want the same user experience independent of the device they using the access the HR Service.

      Best Regards,

      Onno

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  3. Gavin Quinn

    Thanks so much for your post. I think you are right on. SUP is a huge investment. SAP has web servers, why can’t they write nice cross-browser code?

    This is what we have been doing with http://www.mindsetconsulting.com/

    Mobile solutions in jQuery mobile, running without any additional hardware, any change to security, or any new licensing.

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  4. SherryAnne Meyer

    Thanks for the valuable information, James, and for initiating this discussion Onno.  I’m appreciative of your talents that make HR services more accessible.  This is a critical topic for HR — enabling access to self services in multiple ways. Good to know what’s really possible. 

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  5. Varun Biswas

    Hi All,

    Usually I’m a very ordinary consultant (read not a blogger), but seeing this blog, I couldn’t control myself 😳 .

    The client for which I am working for now, run around 6 TBs of  BI production servers, reporting on which is done on SAP/Non-SAP application. With the BI undergoing a 7.3 upgrade, the portal Landscape which I am representing also has to go there.

    Now I know its always, “We support, but we recommend…” from SAP;  2 of our applications are which run on iPads as well (1 purely on iPad) providing the C levels business insight are now in danger.

    I believe with portal on device much can be achieved, but targeting a specific use case and matching it with huge resources which SAP provides as refernce is itself proving to be a tough job.

    Hope I can find some thing to turn around this roadblock into a innovation opportunity.

    Thanks.

    Varun

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  6. Jose Zankiz

    Onno,

    I am going through the same problems. Besides what you mention, I am trying to incorporate Business Objetcs, which are Flash.

    I really believe SAP should make an extra effort on this issue.

    Thanks,

    Jose Zankiz

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    1. Onno Bos Post author

      Dear Jose,

      I agree. You will have even have more troubles, because flash will never be supported by Apple. Hopefully SAP will transfer Business Objects to HTML5.

      Kind regards,

      Onno

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