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What an upcoming HANA One mobility webinar tells us about SAP’s Mobile and Cloud strategy

I recently saw an announcement regarding a new SAP HANA One webinar on June 18 called “Build Your Mobile Solutions with HANA in the Cloud” and I was irritated by the title so I decided to take a moment and reflect on the reasons behind my irritation.  

The very short description of the webinar is:

SAP HANA is one of the most compelling and innovative development platforms worldwide. Listen to Jan Teichmann, our HANA Mobility expert, talk about how you can develop mobile applications in the cloud with HANA One in only 20 minutes. Join us to see how easy it is.

I did some more digging and found that Jan has published two detailed blogs about Android apps running on HANA One: “How to create an Android app on SAP HANA One in 20 minutes” and “Extend an Android app on SAP HANA One in 20 minutes” . My assumption is that the webinar will focus on HANA XS on AWS and its ability to act as the foundation for mobile apps in that environment.  

With this background, why should I be annoyed? 

For me, the title and the description reflect an insular view of the options for developers in that HANA One is just one option among a variety of possibilities to create mobile applications based on cloud-based HANA. In particular, the HANA Cloud PaaS also provides developers an excellent platform to create mobile apps. Indeed, one of the major selling points for this platform is to “deliver mobile-ready Web and portal solutions accessible on any mobile device”. If you need examples of mobile apps running on the platform, take a look at the “Mobile Time Sheet Application” created by Chris Paine and Joanna Chan or the Paul Predicts iOS app created by John Astill.  The HANA Cloud Portal which runs on the HANA Cloud PaaS is also focused on mobile usage.

One way to distinguish between the two platforms is the target audience involved.  SAP HANA One is often marketed to start-ups as the ideal platform.  Yet, the focus on a particular offering rather than its inclusion in a broader cloud strategy could lead to a problem as start-ups evolve and start to focus more on the requirements of existing SAP customers. In such cases, the use of a SAP-hosted environment with corporate support, SLAs, etc might be more appropriate and acceptable to such customers.

I’d also expect some guidance for developers of such mobile apps as to what is necessary after the creation of the app itself.  For example, what about typical enterprise mobile administrative requirements (security, monitoring, etc) usually met through the use of MDM environments such as SAP Mobile Platform (SMP).   Another option to meet this business requirement might be the newly announced SAP Mobile Platform on HANA Cloud to administer HANA One based mobile apps.

The content of the upcoming webinar might include broader information concerning SAP’s cloud strategy but the title is indicative of a more fundamental problem that I blogged about last year concerning the lack of clear distinctions between SAP’s HANA and cloud strategies. As these two areas become increasing intertwined, clarity is necessary to avoid confusing customers even more than they already are.  I have no problem that both HANA One and the HANA Cloud PaaS provide a platform to create HANA / cloud-based mobile apps.  Yet, I’m missing any decision-making tools / guides that support mobile developers to choose the most appropriate platform that meets their needs.   Furthermore, the marketing of HANA One must reflect that this offering is a part of a broader cloud platform rather than an isolated solution. It has a place in the market – the challenge is to crystallize its position relative to other SAP offers and that of the competition. 

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