SAP bets on HTML5, open source for its mobile app platform

SAP is betting that an open approach will attract more programmers to its platform

SAP is planning to rely heavily on HTML5 and open standards within its products for building mobile applications, and is embracing the concept of BYOT (bring your own tools) in order to draw interest from developers.

Version 3.0 of SAP Mobile Platform, which was announced Tuesday during the Tech Ed conference in Las Vegas, will combine SAP's NetWeaver Gateway, Sybase Mobiliser and Syclo Agentry products "to meet current and future mobile app use cases," according to the announcement.

SAP's mobility tools will support open-source standards such as OSGi, OData and Apache Cordova. Developers can also expect "extensive use of HTML5," SAP said.

Under the BYOT approach, developers can use their desired tools alongside those from SAP's platform. SAP is also planning to offer a cloud version of the mobile platform, according to the announcement.

The company announced updates to its Mobile Secure product portfolio on Tuesday as well.

An upcoming cloud-based version of SAP Mobile App Protection will help companies apply "fine-grained" security to applications running on iOS and Android devices, SAP said. The company has also upgraded its Mobile Documents product, adding iPhone and Android support, and has created a new secure mobile browser.

SAP gained a set of mobility products through the 2010 acquisition of Sybase.

It has been emphasizing mobile-friendly software development heavily of late, and earlier this year launched Fiori, a set of lightweight mobile applications that tie into its core Business Suite ERP (enterprise resource planning) system.

The Mobile Platform 3.0 release also represents a fresh start of sorts for SAP, according to one observer.

"When SAP assumed Sybase's mobile assets, they basically did not have a complete or stable product," said analyst Ray Wang of Constellation Research. "This new release is a major overhaul which allows them to write once, deploy everywhere."

SAP did make tweaks to the Sybase technology as part of the 3.0 upgrade, said executive board member Vishal Sikka, who heads all development, during a press conference on Tuesday at Tech Ed.

SAP has also had some time to rethink what is truly important for mobile developers, Wang added.

"Embedded security, mobile apps stores, and community are key to their potential success this time around," he said. "The challenge will be the price points as IBM is also aggressively competing in this space."

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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