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Eliminate Mobile Device Management Headaches: SAP NetWeaver Mobile 7.1 Is IT’s Antidote

by Arvind S. Pawar | SAPinsider

January 1, 2008

Discover how SAP NetWeaver Mobile 7.1 helps IT combat its top three mobile pain points: easing patches and upgrades, ensuring deployed mobile applications are configured properly, and resolving business process issues.
 

Managing an always-moving landscape of various mobile devices raises questions for most IT teams:

  • How do we get patches and upgrades out to all these devices?

  • How do we troubleshoot and make configuration changes?

  • How do we fix users' business process issues?

Tackling these challenges often means deploying crude semi-automated or manual processes with a large team of frontline technical support to walk users through the procedure. Laptops, tablet PCs, PDAs, and smart phones often have unique deployment and management requirements, and the array of applications that IT needs to manage so that users stay productive is immense. Worse yet, the frequency of upgrades and mobile application outages keeps rising. So how does IT manage it all?

SAP NetWeaver Mobile 7.1 was designed to tackle these issues head on. Now companies can deploy this centralized command and control solution to manage mobile devices and applications, greatly improving IT productivity and enhancing mobile user satisfaction.

Addressing the 3 Big Challenges of Mobile Device Management

SAP NetWeaver Mobile 7.1 was designed to greatly simplify mobile device management by eliminating the need for many device management tools.1 Configuration, management, and troubleshooting can all be performed within a single application.2 The results include lower costs to manage remote devices, faster problem resolution, and improved service levels.

Challenge #1: Easing the Patch and Upgrade Process

Consider a group of mobile users that just downloaded and installed a patch as directed by an email from IT. Some users successfully installed the patch while others tried and failed. Others just ignored the email request completely. If IT later discovers a bug in the patch, there is no easy way to identify the mobile users this affects: Do all — or just some — of the mobile devices need software reinstalled? This becomes a huge challenge for IT.

Using SAP NetWeaver Mobile 7.1, IT can distribute patches and upgrades automatically, without any intervention from the mobile user.

Using SAP NetWeaver Mobile 7.1, IT can easily distribute and manage patches and upgrades to all mobile devices. IT can even upgrade an application in phases, either individually or based on user profiles or groups. Advanced version-control features allow multiple versions of an application — such as a beta upgrade and the previous version of an application — to be stored on an individual's mobile device (see Figure 1). This allows immediate rollback if a bug is found in the new version.

Figure 1
Advanced version-control features allow multiple versions of an application to be stored on an individual's mobile device

IT can distribute patches and upgrades automatically, with no intervention required from users. An inventory of all devices in the mobile landscape and their configurations are also stored centrally. Additionally, SAP NetWeaver Mobile 7.1 integrates with third-party device management tools for investment protection.

Challenge #2: Simple Configuration and Remote Troubleshooting

Another challenge is ensuring deployed mobile applications are configured properly. Without a device management tool, IT must complete this task manually or with complex system scripts. Not only is this expensive and error-prone, it provides no easy way to confirm that all devices are properly configured.

Consider a mobile user who complains he cannot print his work order report. Without a device management tool, addressing this issue would require IT to have physical access to the mobile device.

SAP NetWeaver Mobile 7.1 greatly simplifies the troubleshooting and configuration of remote mobile devices. IT can alter any user setting, such as a PDA's battery configurations or wireless port settings for Bluetooth-enabled printers, from a central location (see Figure 2).

Figure 2
SAP NetWeaver Mobile 7.1 allows centrally located IT administrators to change printer configurations on a mobile user's device

In addition, end-to-end transaction monitoring and synchronization statistics allow administrators to track a large number of mobile devices with minimal effort. IT can define thresholds to create proactive performance-related alerts. Additionally, mobile device logs can be remotely transmitted to a central server for monitoring and troubleshooting.

IT can remotely alter key mobile device settings, simplifying troubleshooting efforts without physical access to the device, manual intervention, or complex system scripts.

Challenge #3: Resolving Business Process Issues

Mobile device management becomes even more of a headache when business process problems occur. For example, consider a mobile user who made sales order updates that for some reason are not applied in the back-end CRM system. Traditionally, IT would have to re-enter the changes for the user and hope that the problem did not reoccur. Or, they could ask the user for the device so they could debug the problem — but this would cause downtime and might give the user a negative impression of the solution.

With SAP NetWeaver Mobile 7.1, an administrator can investigate this issue by tracing the transaction from the mobile device to the middleware and, finally, to the CRM server (see Figure 3). With transaction traces, the administrator can see that the CRM application rejected the updates because of business rule violations. Armed with this knowledge, an administrator can work to resolve the problem with minimal user interaction and downtime.

Figure 3
Administrators can use logs or trace files of the operations performed on a mobile device to help manage business process issues

What About Mobile Security Issues?

Beyond handling performance and process concerns, IT also needs to manage and secure sensitive data on all mobile devices. SAP NetWeaver Mobile 7.1 gives administrators the tools to ensure this security. With access to comprehensive security logs, administrators can easily examine incorrect passwords or the number of days without synchronization.

A remote wipe capability is also available with this release; if a mobile device is lost or a password is compromised, data on the device can be centrally destroyed and the device can be locked when any network contact attempt is made. Additionally, data stored on the device, as well as its transmission over the network, is always encrypted and secure.

Conclusion

SAP NetWeaver Mobile 7.1 empowers IT to simplify mobile device management and reduce costs. Patch upgrades, remote configurations, mobile application diagnostics, and security-related issues can now all be managed within a single application. For more information, visit www.sap.com/solutions/mobilebusiness.



1 This article deals specifically with the mobile device management capabilities of SAP NetWeaver Mobile 7.1. For an overview of this release, see the Mobile Matters column in the October-December 2007 issue of SAP Insider (www.SAPinsideronline.com).

2 If you are a current SAP NetWeaver Mobile user and need advice on migrating to SAP NetWeaver Mobile 7.1, stay tuned for a future SAP Insider article on this topic.


Additional Resources

"Overcome the Top 6 IT Challenges of Mobile Business: New Major Release of SAP NetWeaver Mobile Paves the Way" by Hansen Lieu and Arvind S. Pawar (SAP Insider, October-December 2007, www.SAPinsideronline.com)

"Best practices for planning, deploying, and maintaining mobile applications with SAP NetWeaver Mobile 7.0" by Alexander Ilg and Karsten Strothmann (SAP Professional Journal, September/October 2007, www.SAPpro.com)

Arvind S. Pawar (arvind.s.pawar@sap.com) is currently the product management lead for SAP NetWeaver Mobile at SAP Labs India. A former computer science student, he has over seven years of consulting, maintenance, and marketing experience in the fields of enterprise applications, logistics, and retail solutions.

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