Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mobile Expert Interview Series: SAP's Nick Brown

SAP's Nick Brown on the right
I had the opportunity to catch up with SAP's Nick Brown with the Mobile Business Unit on the phone this morning.  He was calling from dark and snowy Waldorf, Germany.  This call was scheduled to help cover some of the questions that did not get answered at last week's SAP Infuencer Summit (see my full report from this event here).

Here are the questions that were asked by you the readers of this blog that were not answered in full at the event.

*Important Note:  These are not the exact words of Nick Brown.  I have often shortened the answers and revised them to be more concise for the purpose of this article.  I have tried my best to keep the original meaning.  Blame me for any misinterpretations.

Kevin:  Will there be Android support in SUP (SAP unwired platform)? 
Nick:  Yes, full support will be released in the second half of 2011.  However, partial support for lightweight applications will be sooner.

Kevin:  What are your thoughts about HTML5?
Nick:  HTML5 is not just a cool presentation layer.  It is very important in helping simplify development, so more web developers can become mobile developers.  Web developers can help mobilize more content. We will be using HTML5 in SUP.   That does not mean we will go away from supporting native environments.  This is also important for maximizing the user experience.  I am impressed with what I have seen in BlackBerry version 6.0 that was done in HTML5 as well. 

Kevin:  How can I get trained or certified on SUP so I can help clients mobilize processes? 
Nick:  Sybase has historically only trained a few systems integrators that have proven their ability to drive revenue.  We will need to increase our online training and learn how to scale.  This is something we need to do.  We have trained SAP, and SAP should help us learn to scale.

Kevin Comment:  Solving this issue is critical.  Supporting the SAP ecosystem means you must scale and empower systems integrators and IT organizations to use SUP and the mobile SDK.  This must be a very high priority to help with rapid adoption.  Not scaling quickly is not an option.

Kevin:  Will SAP co-innovation partner, Syclo, support SUP? (About five questions like this were submitted).
Nick:  Yes, Syclo has told me they will support SUP. Your readers should probably talk directly with Syclo to get those questions answered.  Syclo is proud of their technology.  Their middleware technology is powerful and they invested a lot into it, so they are asking all the right questions and completing their due diligence on SUP.  They must determine what is right for them.  The bottom line, though, is that ISVs will have a hard time moving forward in the SAP ecosystem if they don't support SUP.

Kevin:   Industry analysts have mentioned that implementing SUP can take 12 months from design to production.  Do you agree?   
Nick:  In the past yes.  Early adopters that were developing complex mobile applications on SUP took a significant amount of time.  However, today development is much faster.

Kevin:  I used your SQL Anywhere solutions for my mobile application development for many years with the SQL Anywhere server, mobile client and Mobilink.  How is SUP different than the solution stack I used?
Nick:  The iAnywhere stack was database centric.  It focused on providing data storage on mobile devices and synchronizing that data to a backend server.  SUP gives you many additional layers of solutions that make things simpler to use and manage.  SUP helps with business object integration, provides runtime monitoring tools, and helps integrate with a big list of different ERPs and business solutions.  Plus, Afaria can be included in SUP.

Kevin:  Many of the questions that were submitted related to wanting to know what mobile applications SAP would develop.  Do you have any comments on this subject?
Nick:  We mentioned our mobile application priorities at the SAP Influencer Summit (mobile CRM, mobile salesforce, basic mobile field services, basic mobile enterprise asset management, basic mobile business intelligence, etc).  The bottom line is that we will focus mostly on basic horizontal applications.

Kevin:  What can you share about how Project Gateway fits into SUP?
Nick:  The word gateway is being used in many different ways, so it is important to understand the context.  SUP has gateway features for integration.  The NetWeaver Mobile and DOE team is now part of the SUP team, and these solutions will be integrated together.  The formal "Project Gateway" effort is being driven out of  Vishal Sikka's office (SAP CTO), and it is a different solution.  SUP will utilize it, but it is not part of SUP.  SUP will consume content via Project Gateway.

Kevin:  I have seen announcements about SAP Business ByDesign and Business One mobilizing.  Are you involved in these efforts?
Nick:  They are separate efforts today.  SAP is large and all groups within SAP are prioritizing mobility in their areas so there is a lot of great innovation going on.  Over time, we will incorporate this innovation into our solutions and roadmaps, but this will take some time.

Kevin:  Tell me more about the Mobile SDK.  Is it primarily being developed to support the Mobile Business Unit within SAP, or as a tool for third party developers?
Nick:  Bob Stutz's team will be developing all kinds of mobile solutions, so they are the primary driver of the requirements for the Mobile SDK, but we feel their needs are reflective of the market in general.  The value will extend to all mobile developers.

Kevin:  How can systems integrators get pricing on SUP?
Nick:  They should engage with the field overlay team led by Dan Mahowald, VP, North America Enterprise Mobility, SAP Americas.  This is a dedicated team to help get pricing for customers and partners.  I expect that pricing models will continue to evolve as we learn, and the Sybase pricing models are integrated with the traditional SAP pricing models.  There is a lot of value in mobile clients, mobile middleware and integration.  I believe this value should be monetized.  We are working on models now.  A lot of the new mobile solutions are mission critical and need to have their own lifecycle management, maintenance, etc., so there needs to be a cost.

I encouraged Nick to push hard in two areas:
  1. Please get training on SUP in place ASAP so it can be scaled.
  2. Please get pricing models completed so it is easier to quote solutions using SUP.
Thanks Nick for taking the time to answer our questions!

Kevin Benedict, SAP Mentor, SAP Top Contributor, Mobile and M2M Industry Analyst
Phone +1 208-991-4410
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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.