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Is Your Portal Solution Part of Your Mobile Strategy? It Should Be

by Aviad Rivlin | SAPinsider

April 1, 2013

For companies wondering where to start their mobile initiatives, the first consideration should be existing landscapes and infrastructures. For instance, if you already run an SAP portal, you can use SAP NetWeaver Portal, mobile edition to build a mobile infrastructure. When used on a mobile device, this mobile portal edition acts as a web and role-based aggregation layer for structured and unstructured content, web and native mobile applications, and SAP and non-SAP applications. In this article, you’ll learn more about SAP NetWeaver Portal, mobile edition and how it can help you enter the mobile world.
 

The mobility era is at its peak and every company, from the largest Fortune 500 organization to the smallest startup, is looking for ways to mobilize their business and connect with customers, partners, and employees anywhere, on any device. At the same time, we see a constant demand to cut down the IT budget and to do more with less. Trying to balance the need to mobilize with the requirement to keep costs down can make it difficult for companies to know where to start with their mobile strategy.

One way to save costs while building a mobile strategy is to first look at what is already available, considering your existing landscape and infrastructure. For example, you most likely already run an SAP portal that provides a web-based interface for your business applications and content. Doing something as simple as optimizing this interface for mobile and making it available to your employees, customers, and partners can provide enormous benefits to your company in the form of increased productivity and a better customer experience. This is also a way to ease mobility into your organization since all mobile devices, no matter the vendor, have built-in browsers that can provide the same web-based, single-point of access to relevant business information and assets. 

SAP NetWeaver Portal: A Starting Point for Your Mobile Projects

The mobile transition is made easy with SAP NetWeaver Portal, mobile edition, which can be accessed through a mobile browser. If you already run SAP NetWeaver Portal in your organization, you can reuse your portal investments to build a mobile infrastructure. No new knowledge or hardware is required, which can mean thousands in savings for implementation and training costs. 

When used on a mobile device, SAP NetWeaver Portal, mobile edition acts as a web and role-based aggregation layer for structured and unstructured content, web and native mobile applications, and SAP and non-SAP applications. The portal can be accessed within or outside the company network and can be built as a template-based solution or in a “freestyle” approach, giving you the flexibility to design for your specific business needs.

Using the intuitive mobile workspaces environment available through SAP NetWeaver Portal, mobile edition, you can aggregate unstructured content and predefine applications for specific groups of users, which makes it easier to deliver relevant content, such as company news, sales resources, and marketing campaigns (see Figure 1). You can even configure role-based entry points for different lines of business in minutes.

SAP NetWeaver Portal, mobile edition
Figure 1 SAP NetWeaver Portal, mobile edition allows you to easily deliver content to employees, partners, and clients on the device of their choice.

SAP NetWeaver Portal, mobile edition provides an excellent mobile shell, acting as the single point of entry for enterprise mobile applications. Once you’ve decided to use it as the starting point for your mobile project, the next step will be to decide which kind of mobile apps you’ll choose to run within the mobile portal.

What’s the Right Mobile App for Your Company?

Companies will need to decide whether they want to start using native or mobile web applications. There are pros and cons for each approach that you should weigh as you decide which would be more appropriate for your organization. There is no one-size-fits-all solution; you may even end up using both types of applications for different use cases since there are some scenarios in which native apps are most suitable and other scenarios in which web apps are the better fit. 

For example, companies will often choose to implement native applications because they integrate easily with mobile device capabilities, such as camera and GPS functionalities. On the other hand, web-based applications can run on any mobile device that has access to the internet, so a company doesn’t need to develop applications tailored to each device type, which can be a hassle to develop and maintain.

Let’s take a closer look at each approach.

Native Applications

If you choose to develop native mobile applications, it is best to do so through SAP Mobile Platform since it is an end-to-end platform that provides all of the required capabilities to develop robust and feature-complete native applications. Another option is to develop a native Objective-C, Android Java, or other platform application and consume the data through SAP NetWeaver Gateway using the dedicated plugin.

Web Applications

There are several options for developing web applications to be used in your mobile strategy. Let’s start with the most straightforward: developing a portal application and rendering the user interface in HTML5 or SAPUI5. The data for these kinds of apps can be consumed from the SAP system either via SAP NetWeaver Gateway or through the traditional business application programming interfaces (BAPIs) and remote function calls (RFCs). Another approach is to host the web applications on a separate web server, such as the ABAP web application server, and access them through a URL.

Choose the Mobile Strategy That Works for You

Fortunately, SAP NetWeaver Portal, mobile edition can aggregate whichever mobile technology approach (or approaches) that you take, providing an easily accessible entry point for your enterprise mobile apps, and giving your company the flexibility to build a mobile strategy that works best for you.

Learn More

IT organizations trying to enter the mobile world would do well to look to the portal technologies they already have in place for a good place to start their mobile initiative. For SAP NetWeaver Portal customers, taking advantage of the mobile edition of the solution means getting a solid start in mobilizing the IT landscape. On top of that, these customers can enjoy a low TCO since they’re leveraging an existing investment and require no new training. For customers who have yet to invest in SAP NetWeaver Portal, it isn’t too late to take advantage of the robust and scalable platform with its multi-channel entry point. To learn more about SAP NetWeaver Portal, visit http://scn.sap.com/community/netweaver-portal.

rivlin

Aviad Rivlin (aviad.rivlin@sap.com) is a Product Manager in the SAP NetWeaver Portal group. He joined SAP in 2002 and has worked as a team lead in the development group, a senior consultant, and a product manager focusing on go-to-market and customer success. Aviad received his bachelor’s degree in computer science and MBA from the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel.

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