Tuesday, April 17, 2012

SAP's Acquisition of Sybase in 2010 Revisited - A Third Cup of Coffee

Cup #1
A third cup of Java's "bowl of soul" coffee, and now I am having flashbacks to May 2010.  I was and am a big fan of SAP's acquisition of Sybase.  I was a long time partner of Sybase and valued their mobile middleware, which I embedded in my mobile business apps for years. The cautions I shared in 2010, were that Sybase did not have a library of mobile apps or a robust SDK at that time, and businesses still needed to figure out how to get mobile apps.

[Kevin Benedict, May 12, 2010]  … none of [Sybase’s] solutions provide a company with mobile applications that solves their [business] problems.  A database is not an application.  Synchronization is not an application.  Mobile device management is not an application.  All of these solutions are just pieces that offer no value unless somebody builds something with them.

[Kevin Benedict, May 12, 2010]  Sybase is not a mobile application company.  They have great mobile middleware, mobile databases, synchronization and integration technology and mobile device management.  However, none of these products provide a company with a mobile applications that solves their problems.

Cup #2
[Kevin Benedict, May 13, 2010]  Sybase is not known for their mobile applications.  They primarily license mobile middleware and mobile databases to companies that develop mobile software applications.  SAP users need mobile applications.  Mobile applications, not mobile middleware, provide the ROIs customers seek.

[Kevin Benedict, May 12, 2010]  Sybase does not have an SDK.  How can a large enterprise with custom mobility needs build an application?  

OK, I am back to 2012!

SAP's announced intent to acquire Syclo last week will provide SAP with a proven SDK, a library of valuable mobile applications and a mobile app customer base.  These are good.  These were the missing pieces of the puzzle.  With this acquisition, however, there will be some overlap in capabilities between Sybase and Syclo as this 2010 interview with Syclo's EVP Jeff Kleban reveals (oh no!  Another 2010 flashback!!!!).

Cup #3
[Kevin] Who is Syclo's biggest competitor? [Jeff] It varies since there are so many point solutions in the market, but if a customer were looking for a MEAP, they will tend to look at Syclo and Sybase who are the leaders.   

Soon both MEAP vendors will be owned by SAP.  SAP will, I expect, continue to port the Syclo solutions onto SUP to unify the solutions.  I am scheduling a call with the SAP mobility team next week to learn more.

The new partnerships with Adobe's PhoneGap, Sencha Touch and Titanium SDK from Appcelerator will give mobile app developers even more tools and options for rapid application development.  In addition, long term SAP partners Open Text, Sky Technologies and ClickSoftware also have mobile solutions and SDKs that are tightly integrated with SAP solutions.  Again, this is good for the SAP ecosystem, although a plethora of choices does not always make for speedy decision making and lower TCOs (total cost of ownership).

It now seems the pieces to the enterprise mobility puzzle are on the table, however, the puzzle picture to be solved is unknown in many cases.  The problem for many companies, is the lack of strategy.  Now that developers have the technologies and tools - what are they to develop?  This is most often a decision that the business must make.  The business must paint the puzzle picture.  They must understand how enterprise mobility and mobile apps can and will change the competitive landscape of their industries.  The business must understand this and work with developers to take advantage of mobility.

It would be sad for the developers to have a wide selection of powerful tools to develop innovative mobile solutions, but then not be able to get the business to paint the picture or to re-engineer their processes to take advantage of them.

On a side note - Just because all of these tools are now available, it does not mean a company should develop their own mobile solutions.  Companies may be better off out-sourcing, subscribing to a cloud based solution or purchasing an off-the-shelf app.  There are a lot of different points to consider. We will discuss this in more details soon.

***Next week on April 26th I will be speaking in Atlanta at a lunch event organized by Motorola and ClickSoftware.  If you are interested in attending please register here.  I will be providing an update on my latest research into enterprise mobility, best practices and mobile strategies.

Read more on the subject of SAP's intent to acquire Syclo here:
SAP Acquires Syclo - A First Analysis Over Coffee  
SAP Acquires Syclo – A Second Cup of Coffee and 25 Comments
Kevin Benedict, Independent Mobile Industry Analyst, Consultant and SAP Mentor Alumnus
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Full Disclosure: I am an independent mobility analyst, consultant and blogger. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.