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Bringing Order to the Chaos in Mobility

by Jason Fox | SAPinsider

October 1, 2011

For companies working to empower their end users, increase agility, and lower the TCO of their systems, the rise of mobile applications offers a great opportunity to move forward on all three fronts. However, the proliferation of mobile devices, platforms, and applications has also led to a kind of mobility chaos. In this article, you'll learn how SAP's acquisition of Sybase brings order to this chaos, providing solutions that enable organizations to connect, create, consume, and control any number of mobile applications on any device.

CIOs around the globe are focused on three main business goals: They want to empower their end users, increase agility, and lower the total cost of ownership (TCO) of their systems. The rise of mobile applications offers SAP customers a great opportunity to move forward on all three fronts.

Historically, SAP customers have approached mobile applications on a case-by-case basis — establishing point-to-point connections between mobile applications and back-end SAP software. However, the proliferation of mobile devices, platforms, and applications has rendered this approach unsustainable. In many companies, each mobile application might need to be written for three or four different devices, creating development gridlock, performance issues, and cost overruns.

SAP acquired Sybase to bring order to this kind of mobility chaos. Sybase’s mobility solutions give organizations of any size the ability to connect, create, consume, and control any number of mobile applications on any device — freeing the enterprise to capitalize on the promise of next-generation mobility solutions.

Developing Applications for a Diverse World

The mobile infrastructure developed by Sybase was designed to integrate and streamline a variety of mobile applications and devices into a company’s back-end systems. As a central platform for mobile development, the Sybase Unwired Platform offers enterprise customers an unprecedented ability to develop an application once and deploy it to nearly any device. Via graphical modeling of mobile business objects, developers can create anything, from a lightweight, web-based application to a device-specific, custom application with built-in functionality for exchanging data with databases, web services, and back-end applications.

Based on the well-known Eclipse development framework, the Sybase Unwired Platform gives developers the ability to offer a mobile experience that is richer and more user-friendly than simply extending a corresponding back-end application to a mobile device. By capitalizing on skills your organization likely already possesses, the Sybase Unwired Platform also speeds up time to development and lowers TCO of your mobility solutions.

Managing Your Mobile Landscape

Most customers will begin their mobility journey by developing a few key applications first, then expanding the reach of their mobility solutions to cover many more enterprise applications. Next, they’ll need a solution to help secure and manage those applications.

Sybase Afaria is a solution that protects your mobile investment by centralizing the management of applications and devices. Companies use Afaria to distribute applications to end-user mobile devices and manage all aspects of mobile provisioning and security. The power of such a centralized management system for mobile devices and applications is clear when compared with traditional processes for managing in-office computers and applications. With Afaria, the IT department does not need physical access to each device. Instead, IT can deploy application updates, add or remove applications, and deliver updated data remotely and without user assistance. If a user loses his or her device, the data and content from that device can be automatically backed up, and an administrator can remotely delete any applications or data that presents a security risk. Also, since mobile applications need to be available constantly, applications delivered via Afaria are optimized to work regardless of bandwidth. Any changes or updates to the application happen without disturbing the end user.

Not only does Afaria offer ease of use and high levels of security, it also gives end users the freedom to, among other things, choose their own devices through a self-service portal. This unburdens the IT department from having to procure and support company-owned smartphones, tablets, and other devices.

Considerations for Launching Your Mobility Initiative

As with any new technological frontier, companies can get themselves in trouble by moving forward on mobility without a comprehensive plan. For instance, CIOs should put careful thought into determining which back-end applications should be delivered through mobile devices, which devices and standards should be supported, and which users should have access to which mobile applications.

CIOs also need to choose whether to use out-of-the-box apps or to build custom apps. In the near term, the market for out-of-the-box mobile applications is relatively small, though SAP and ecosystem partners already have some of these apps available. In the future, you can expect a booming retail market for many different kinds of mobile enterprise applications, but for now most organizations will have to build them in-house from scratch. The Sybase Unwired Platform offers the ability to develop applications, but connecting them to your back-end applications and delivering them to mobile users will still require some effort.

Finally, bear in mind that complexity in your back-end SAP system will require configuration and connection work on the mobile application. If your SAP back-end is heavily customized, for example, you will need to plan accordingly when developing your mobile applications.

Learn More

The business case for mobility is clear. Not only does it support end user preferences for working with the devices they love, it also allows companies to stay agile and better manage TCO. But to truly benefit from mobility, you need a comprehensive strategy and proven tools to help you execute it.

To learn more about building a mobility strategy and for more information on how SAP and Sybase mobility solutions can help, visit

Jason Fox ( is the National Vice President of SAP’s North America Education business. Prior to this role, he led the IT Transformation Services Group at SAP, where he directed a team of consultants focused on emerging technologies. Previously, Jason served for seven years as a Platinum Sales and Distribution consultant. He has a tremendous amount of experience working with customers on their upgrade strategies and frequently presents on this topic at SAPinsider events.

1 Kelton Research, “Device Disconnect: Companies Not Meeting the Mobile Workforce’s Needs” (July 2011). [back]

2 IBM developerWorks, “The 2010 IBM Tech Trends Survey” (October 2010). [back]

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