Neptune Application Management in the new 3.0 release
My co-founder Ole-Andre Haugen recently published a blog about the new Neptune GUI Client and our enhanced HTML5 powered editor. I will look into some other features in our new 3.0 release of the Neptune Application Designer.
For those of you attending TechEd && d-code in Berlin the Neptune staff there will gladly demonstrate and give you some on-site training if interested.
A great benefit for ABAP Add-on’s is that the software is running directly on the SAP core systems. This gives direct access to data and functionality, but also roles and authorizations. Instead of replicating users and roles, the existing setup that SAP customers have invested heavily in is reused.
This fact was the inspiration of Neptune Application Management (NAM) and Neptune Application Catalog (NAC), which we ship with our new 3.0 release.
Our previous Phonegap export and AppCache configuration, is integrated in the new solution and ported to UI5 running in the SAPGUI.
Neptune Application Management
NAM allows transformation of web applications to hybrid apps and managing them throughout their life-cycle – from application build, access, distribution, tracking and analyzing their usage.
Administrators can easily host and manage Neptune mobile and desktop applications in a cost efficient and secure way, delivering applications seamlessly on phone, tablet and desktop.
Below is an overview of the administration console, which is the central point for managing Neptune applications.
After creating web applications in the Neptune Application Designer, you want to distribute them to end-users and possibly create mobile apps and make these available through an enterprise store.
You also want to restrict access to the various apps and menu items – this is what the new management tool facilitates.
To provide user groups access to applications in the most convenient way NAM makes use of Bundle Applications. Bundle Applications group applications together based on policies related to the end-users SAP authorization roles.
The first thing to do in NAM is creating a bundle application. You can also use any previously made application as a template, something that is very handy if you have the same security setup and icons.
The traditional concept of an app was that it should have a limited set of functionality and preferable just cover a single process. This is still true in the consumer market, but these design guidelines have not proven successful in the enterprise space.
An obvious reason for this is simply the authentication and security requirements. You do not wish to log on for every single process. In addition working with enterprise applications is quite different than say – checking the weather for tomorrow. The consumerization of IT trend is a hot topic these days, but in some areas enterprise software needs to find its own path. Today the enterprise applications tend to provide a mobile portal experience as opposed to a single app and process functionallity.
Here is an example of how a Neptune bundle app can look with the UI5 framework on a phone with menus shown as tiles or as a list view. The second image in this example is set up as a sub-menu.
After creating you bundle app you can choose to run it with a user role based menu or directly just run a single app. Also you can choose if you want to create this application just as a web app, as a hybrid mobile application or both.
The next step is to choose the authentication settings. You can choose from a standard backend connection, authentication through the enterprise portal or logging on through the SAP Mobile Platform.
The last option will also take care of the onboarding and captcha code processes. We also added a two factor authentication using the email connected to the user in the backend system that requires the user to activate his device to be able to log on.
You now also have a choice to add a pin code authentication that will provide a simple and secure way for the end-user to log on to the system after the first successful on-boarding. In the example below, a two-factor authentication where the physical device needs to be activated is shown.
We also added a choice to automatically encrypt your local data base and now the packaging tool will automatically add a SQLite database instead of the standard web DB.
This provides you with near unlimited storage space for the app and also the option to have it encrypt the data automatically.
Choose settings for your app like preferences, permissions, plugins and media files for icons and splash screens.
You are now ready to build the hybrid app and you can do this for Phonegap/Cordova and we also added Windows 8.x and Windows Phone 8.1 support.
We see a growing popularity for Windows 8.1 devices in the market and specifically the Surface and HP tablets that replace the traditional laptops for managers.
The major advantage of this solution compared to others, as we see it, is the usage of your SAP roles. Setting up policies and attaching them to your Menu Items will both show the user only the navigation he is authorized for and also directly protect the app. So even if you manage to find the url to an application you will not be able to access it without the correct roles.
The solution is client specific so you need to set up your role based menus per SAP client. The effects are instant for the end users and new processes can be added on the fly so it is very rare that you need to publish a new bundle app and thus seldom that the end-users need to update their app.
Neptune Application Catalog
When you have created your app you can publish it to the Neptune Application Catalog which will function as an enterprise app store. You can of course use the official app stores, SAP’s Mobile Place or solutions from other vendors such as XenApp, Air Watch or Mobile Iron.
If you set the published option to “yes” the bundle application will be visible in the catalog.
You can also add end-user documentation and contact information for the application owner and a feedback functionality enabling the user to get help.
When you upload the installation files for the different devices the user will be able to install these from the catalog which automatically detects the type of device.
For the end-user it will look like this:
For the complete NAM documentation you can find it here.
You can also download and test NAD 3.0 with this new NAM feature here.
And again, we hope those of you going to TechEd && d-code in Berlin pass by our booth for a live demonstration.