This is Part 2 of my interview with Sybase's Willie Jow, vice president of mobility product marketing with Sybase.
Kevin: Tell me about the announced mobile SDK. Where will the SAP/Sybase SDK stop and the native development environments start?
Willie: That is still being finalized even as we speak. The target date for release is Sapphire 2011.
It is important to note that there are two different kinds of applications, 1) native applications like the CRM and field service apps, and 2) the container approach. The container is on the device, and we populate it with data. Our workflow app is a container application. However, our mobile CRM is a native app. Both will exist and be supported in the SDK.
Kevin: What do you mean by “container?”
Willie: Think of it like an application sitting on your mobile device using native features and code. However, it has no business logic, or data elements. We push data to the container. It is for simple queries and data collection. Our SAP workflow apps fit this model, like travel approvals or discount approval. We push the data to the mobile container application. We see HTML 5 also in this area and are evaluating.
Kevin: For many years there was an internal debate within Sybase about whether to develop mobile applications, or leave them up to your OEM and SI partners to develop because of potential partner conflict issues. How are you going to address that concern today?
Willie: I would not characterize it that way. I see it more as a question of our core competencies. We have a lot of core competencies around mobile middleware and infrastructure. We used the SAP CRM project with SAP to demonstrate what can be done with mobile applications on our infrastructure. We did not intend this to mean we are transforming into a mobile applications company. It takes a different set of core competencies to develop mobile applications in a particular industry vertical. In the past, we simply chose to invest in our core competencies which is building mobile infrastructures.
Kevin: What is your current message to your OEM partners?
Willie: We will continue to support our OEM partners as we believe they are vital to the ecosystem. Our road map is very important to them. They will actively participate in our road map direction. We are definitely going to work through partners. We want to define where SAP is going to develop solutions, and then where we need our partners to deliver. We need partners to drive the reach of mobility.
Kevin: Systems Integrators are asking what they should recommend today for a mobile strategy. The SIs want to be aligned with SAP’s strategy. What is that strategy today?
Willie: We will be innovating and developing SUP, so those building mobile applications today should use SUP. That will ensure they are aligned with our direction. They will benefit from the work we will be doing. SIs and in-house developers should definitely look at SUP as their starting point and start learning and developing on it.
Mobile Expert Interview Series: Sybase's Willie Jow, Part 1
Mobile Expert Interview Series: Sybase's Willie Jow, Part 3
Kevin Benedict, SAP Mentor, SAP Top Contributor, Mobile and M2M Industry Analyst
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Full Disclosure: I am an independent mobility consultant, mobility analyst, writer and Web 2.0 marketing professional. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.