A roadblock for going mobile for quite a few customers these days are the costs of the recommended solution from SAP, Unwired Platform, Syclo and soon to be released SapMobilePlatform 3.0. There is also the shortage of experience resources to develop and implement it leading to higher costs and risks. Having worked as an architect and development lead for a very large SAP customer running Sybase Unwired Platform 2.1 and seeing the massive server setup with failovers etc, I can fully understand the concern.
So how can we as consultants and those customers interested in taking baby steps get the ball rolling? There are numerous options available or soon to be available that cost much less with regards to licensing and hardware.
1. Netweaver Gateway with SAPUI5 is a very attractive, inexpensive option. The focus from SAP is very much on these 2 tools going forward, the best example of this are the Fiori apps which are 25 now and soon to be many more. For ABAP developers, the learning curve for the Netweaver Gateway should not be that steep and developers that know html5 can quickly come up to speed with SAPUI5. For security purposes it is possible to setup a reverse proxy / web dispatcher with the usual firewall and DMZ setup, similar to what normal portal setup would include.
2. Netweaver Portal Mobile edition. For customers already using the NW portal, this could be an option.
3. SAP screen Personas – with version 2.0 in rampup HTML version. With this upcoming release there is the interesting option of making HTML versions of the screens as well as the current option of silverlight. Having used this tool a bit, I feel this has a good potential for really quick browser based UI that can delight the end users without costing too much. (screen personas require a licence fee to SAP)
4. NWBC – HTML version. The netweaver business client is already the recommended desktop UI and with the HTML version narrowing the gap to the desktop version it is going to start to come into the picture as a mobile option.
5. Implement Fiori apps. Having spent the last couple of weeks with these apps I have a very positive feeling that they are going to be very popular with customers. The implementation is relatively easy, they can be customized and extended with or without breaking SAP standard and currently cover many of the most used functions for “casual” users. With the Fiori portfolio growing over the coming months, even more customers will find the apps that support their processes. Fiori is based on SAPUI5 and Netweaver Gateway (both licence free for the customers named users) but the Fiori apps come with a licence fee.
6. Neptune Application Designer – I have to mention my friends at Neptune here as well. They have built a very interesting tool to build both mobile and desktop (browser) apps that is worthy of consideration. The apps can be based on SAPUI5, built inside the SAP stack and utilizing all the normal benefits of transport system, security etc. that comes with it.
I am sure there are other options out there, not that they make the life any easier for us trying to keep up and advice our clients on the way ahead but they certainly make things interesting.