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Tips on faster mobile deployments: Recent Q&A on SAP Mobility Strategy

by Allison Martin

October 28, 2011

I recently moderated a web forum with SAP's Jim Mossey on SAP's mobility roadmap. Jim took questions on integrated mobile environments, SUP, Afaria, landscape and infrastructure requirements and costs, rollout strategy, and other topics.

For the full Q&A, you can view the questions and Jim's responses in the IT Forum, or read excerpts from the transcript of the Q&A below.

Allison Martin (moderator): Welcome to today's Forum!

In this one-hour Q&A, we invite you to post your questions for SAP mobility expert Jim Mossey. SAP's Matthew Schwartz was unable to join us today, but I’m pleased that Jim will be taking your questions today.

Jim is Director of IT Transformation Services at SAP and is responsible for operational, practice, talent and delivery management activities for mobility. Jim not only develops strategic business programs and initiatives for mobility, he also works with SAP customers to establish delivery models to support their mobility programs.

Jim will take your questions on SAP's mobility strategy, the newest mobile apps from SAP, preparing for the Sybase Unified Platform, and technology and services to streamline implementation. Welcome, Jim!

Some of our members have already posted their questions, so Jim will take a minute or two to respond at the beginning of the forum. If you have a question, we encourage you to post it early - we expect quite a bit of discussion today and hope to get to as many questions as possible before the Forum ends at 2pm.

William Newman: Thanks for fielding questions in advance. I'd like to know what is on the roadmap for integrated mobile environments, for example not only SAP apps but also consolidating non-SAP information and presenting a rendered, uniform environment using SUP. For example, if a customer has different information stores in SAP, Sharepoint, other web and microsites, how can we use SUP to provide a uniform view?

Many thanks.

Jim Mossey: Hi William. The question you post (or business pain point) is the exact value proposition of SUP and what it allows your business to do for managing your mobility enterprise. In short, the intent of SUP is to provide and manage the connectivity into multiple back end systems and data stores. Via the use of a data modeling tool (MBOs), SUP creates a centralized view of your data that is then leveraged via the various native devices (iOS, BB, Android, etc.) you choose to deploy the data and biz process upon.

ROBERTMOORE: A few questions:

1) What type of landscape do you need in place for the mobile apps? Will you need a landscape like ERP where you have sandbox, dev, qual and prod?

2) I know it is relative, but how many employees will it take to support the environment?

3) Are there SAP training classes offered?

Thanks for your time!

Jim Mossey: Hi Robert. The infrastructure components required for mobile applications depend on how you are looking to manage them. Specifically, SUP (Sybase Unwired Platform) is an industry MEAP (Mobile Enterprise Application Platform) that allows you to more seamlessly manage heterogeneous data sources while deploying to myriad smartphones and mobile device types. The MEAP in this case would mirror how you have your current landscape set up. Most use a 3-tier approach (DEV-QA-PRD) as you indicate, so the MEAP (SUP) would be installed across each landscape.

As for employees to support: It does vary, however I would not see this being anything outside of the typical IT or support center that manages current environments. Just another platform to have knowledge and an understanding of.

Lastly, formal classes from SAP Education are being planned.

Allison Martin (moderator): The SAP mobility team provided us with a link for more details on SAP Education courses specifically on mobility. I hope this is helpful!

Kir Chern: I am interested to know more about the Productivity Apps in SAP ERP HCM like mobile leave request/approval, travel request/approval:

1) What is the GA for the above, I believe it is on ramp-up currently?

2) What is the infrastructure required to support the application:

a. SUP, Sybase Mobile Workflow for the Business Suite, Gateway: Are these components absolutely required and is there more?

b. What is the development (and deployment) environment infrastructure required to be setup?

c. Does the employee need to register his/her hand-phone with AFARIA in order to access the apps?

3) Where can I find more materials including technical and how-to-guide and the necessary skill-sets required to start planning for implementing these apps?

4) How much of the solution is based on open standard and not completely locked in to the Sybase technology?

5) Is the app based on native development or can it run in different mobile devices out of the box?

Jim Mossey: Hi Kir. That's a lot of questions! ;) Will try to be fair to others and hit upon a few.

1) The GA for the Productivity Suite Apps has passed. It is already available.

2) The infrastructure required is SUP, SAP Gateway and an ABAP add-in that gets installed on your SAP systems (ECC, SRM, etc.). AFARIA registration is not required to deploy the apps.

5) Yes. They are based on native development and are out of the box. No coding or development required.

Michael Thiel: Here are my questions:

1) For the native apps CRM Sales, Field Service and Mobile Asset Management, do I need necessarily the DOE and mobile gateway as interface to the backend?

2) When will Android be fully supported on SUP? So far the Workspace for this is not available for Android on SUP 2.1.

Jim Mossey: Hi Michael.

1) No, the DOE is not necessarily required, but it depends on the App and how it was built (leveraging what technologies). CRM Sales does in fact leverage these aspects.

2) Not sure what you mean by workspace (hybrid web container?) for Android - however SUP 2.1 does allow for support for Android deployment.

Hugo: Hi, some questions in advance:

1) What is the landscape needed to integrate SAP and non-SAP apps, both for internal users and outside users?

2) Can we use SUP for data capture (barcodes, RFID, etc.) apps running on handheld devices?

3) Do you have a path to convert SAP Dynpros, SAP Console, ITS Mobile, etc. to SUP?

Thanks!

Jim Mossey: Hi Hugo.

1) SUP manages the integration of both SAP and non-SAP data sources

2) The intention of SUP-related development is to also leverage native device technologies and functions - meaning there will always be areas of mobile app development that are more native than SUP based. In short, SUP does not prohibit you creating apps that use these features.

3) Not sure there is a standard conversion path per se as there are multiple options and paths a company might choose when looking to connecting into their existing programs (i.e., JCO, Web Service, etc.).

Paul Kondaveeti: Most of the Mobile Applications that SAP and SAP Partners are developing - and SAP's intent in the future for more developer community to develop - requires Sybase's SUP and backend SAP Enterprise Systems. As most companies are trying to figure out a mobility strategy and at the same time trying to have some quick wins by deploying mobility apps "faster", there are challenges and huge initial cost involved in deploying the MEAP / Sybase SUP.

What is SAP strategic direction to address the huge initial cost involved in deploying the MEAP / Sybase SUP and consuming the 50+ mobile apps that SAP developed so far?

Jim Mossey: Very good insight, Paul. I think what you are calling out is the fact that there are many different way to deploy mobile applications.

A MEAP (SUP or Sybase Unwired Platform) is a mechanism for managing the complexity. Quick wins are indeed something many customers are looking for (setting up a mobile app without the use of a MEAP) in the short term. That near-term thinking might create conflict in short order if a company is accelerating its creation, consumption and deployment of numerous mobile business applications.

As you mention, SAP now has its own growing library of apps. Fast forward just 6 months and I see that growing exponentially. The more apps there are to consume, the more companies in fact will. In time (and it's accelerating quickly) there comes a tipping point where the point-to-point mobile app solutions a company manages becomes unmanageable. SUP becomes that platform tool.

Infrastructure is the initial cost. Creating 1 or 100 mobile apps via SUP or not is not the high cost factor here.

Raf Boudewijns: I'm currently wondering how we can use SAP Products/SUP to easily create B2C apps and how the infrastructure would look like. We won't be needing Afaria as we're not controlling our customers' devices.

Also what's the roadmap for SUP? We just got the license for SUP2.0 but as far as I recall the apps in the AppStore have been built on SUP2.1? Will there be a replacement for the DAD (instead of the current "unofficial" DAD for SUP2.0 for BlackBerry)? And how do you get that DAD for BlackBerry?

Jim Mossey: Hi Raf. Indeed SUP can still be used to create B2C apps - however the infrastructure will depend on the device platforms you are rolling out to (BB considers the BES) and iOS (App Store and server validation, etc.). Biggest consideration to take into account would be volumes and online/offline modes for the apps. Also, yes - the Mobile Productivity Suite Apps are indeed built on SUP 2.1.

Dave Hannon: Jim, I'm interested in your thoughts about rolling out mobile apps. Are there different strategies than there are with on-premise applications? For example, does a "big bang" mobile deployment have the same benefits as a big-bang on-premise, etc? Thanks!

Jim Mossey: There is very different rollout strategy with mobile applications because you are not turning 'off' or switching from another system when you go 'live' -- and because you have the ability to deploy to smaller groups via a pilot or 1st wave concept. Based on stability, value and user adoption within that smaller population, you can then easily open the flood gates and make a mobile app available to all employees, etc.

There is also no significant change management concern or factor like there is with enterprise system go-lives or rollouts. If there was, then I would question the use case of the mobile app - remember, mobile apps are not meant to be just another medium for an end user to run their enterprise desktop applications.

amandeepaggarwahi: Thanks for taking out time to help us. I have a couple of questions

1) For Sybase Unwired Platform, is there a good example of how to create MBOs from SAP BAPIs (which need some inputs) and then use that MBO to create a SUP workflow application? All the tutorials seem to create MBOs from Web Services or Relational Database Tables.

2) What is the SAP recommended MEAP for Asset management applications? Is it Syclo Agentry or SUP? I believe Syclo has come out with its smart applications suite which runs on SUP as well.

Jim Mossey: Hi Amandeep.

Great questions.

1) Not sure what level of detail you are looking for in terms of examples, but I know our consultants have done a lot of hands-on work doing just that type of development.

2) SAP recommends the solution that best fits a company's needs. However in many cases not all canned off-the-shelf solutions meet 100% of a customer's needs or unique processes. I believe that to be the case whether we're talking SAP or any partner-related mobile app solution. SAP has just rolled out and made available a standard EAM app. I would recommend looking at that, along with any other SUP-based asset management solutions, to determine the best fit.

Allison Martin (moderator): Thank you all again for joining us. We have time for just 1-2 more questions before the forum ends.

sascha markus:

1) What are the target mobile platforms which will be supported by the SAP launched apps?
- Android
- iOS (iPhone, iPad)
- Windows mobile
- BlackBerry
- Others?

2) SAP Cart approval app will be available only for iPhone, BlackBerry. How long is the Ramp-Up? When is the GA? Any plans for Android, Windows mobile?

3) What is the current status of "the generic inbox"? When is this App available, Ramp-Up, GA? What needs to be done on the customer side to implement that (same effort like UWL)?

Jim Mossey: Hi Sascha.

Yes. All the above you mentioned are the target device types

There is no formal ramp-up for these Productivity Suite Apps. They are all GA. A few were delayed - but for only a month and expected for release shortly (don't recall if Shopping Cart was one).

Stefan Denk: I have 3 yes/no questions for you - but of course feel free to elaborate:

1) Did you ever go from a global SUP service to a regional / distributed environment?

2) Is latency reduction critical to a successful SUP end-user experience?

3) Is high availability a critical consideration in a SUP environment, given that it is aimed at offline applications and synchronization?

Thank you for your time!

Jim Mossey: Hi Stefan.

1) No.

2) Absolutely.

3) Yes and No. I am not a fan of any production platform not being in HA, but a lot depends on the importance of minimizing a company's system downtime and - for mobility - what (if any) of their mobile apps require 24/7 system access or connectivity.

Allison Martin (moderator):  

Thanks to SAP's Jim Mossey for his insights today! And thanks to all of you who posted in the Forum today. While time ran out to answer to every part of each post, he was able to respond to everyone who posted before the Q&A ended. Thanks for some great discussion!

For additional mobility resources, I invite you to visit Insider Learning Network's IT Group for interviews, articles, tips and other resources. A full summary of all the questions will be available here in the IT Forum. (The IT Forum also archives past Q&As on mobility and other topics, and we'll continue to update you on future Q&As. You can also post your own question for the entire community by selecting "New Thread" in the IT Forum.)

I also encourage you to join the IT Group for ongoing information and additional mobility resources, including tips, previews and updates from this spring’s SAP Mobility 2012 conference.

For more on today’s topic, you can also join Jim on November 8 in a webcast in SAP Consulting’s “Decide Better: Unwire Your Enterprise” series. The webcast "Enterprise Mobility: Opportunities and Pitfalls at Technology's Frontier" is November 8, from 1 to 2pm EDT – full details are here.

Thank you again to Jim Mossey for taking time to respond to these questions today!

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