SAP, Sybase Detail Plans To Expand Mobile Computing Offerings

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The platform, which will take nine months to assemble, will be the most visible element of SAP's $5.8 billion acquisition of Sybase that was announced in May and completed July 29.

SAP and Sybase executives, speaking at a press conference held simultaneously Thursday in Boston and Frankfurt, Germany, also said that Dublin, Calif.-based Sybase would operate as an independent business unit of SAP. Sybase CEO John Chen, who will continue in that post, said Sybase would stay independent to preserve its unique culture and to maintain its customer base.

While many CRM and salesforce automation applications have client components that run on mobile devices, ERP software and other enterprise applications are generally tied to on-premise systems and accessed through desktop systems.

But the demand for mobile access to such applications is growing, said Bill McDermott, SAP co-CEO, at the Boston press conference. "Mobile is the new desktop," he said, pointing to the proliferation of mobile devices in the U.S. and Europe, and their adoption in fast-growing markets such as China that have "skipped the desktop altogether."

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SAP said the new platform, under the banner "Unwired Enterprise," would allow customers to access SAP Business Suite and SAP Business ByDesign applications and SAP BusinessObjects business intelligence software through any mobile device. SAP said the platform, incorporating Sybase technology, would be based on open standards, run on all major operating systems and support all major device types.

McDermott said the platform would provide mobile application development opportunities for SAP's partner "ecosystem," including resellers, ISVs and systems integrators. Earlier this month a number of Sybase ISV partners debuted mobile applications for SAP software on the Sybase Unwired Platform.

Co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe, speaking in Frankfurt in response to a question, made it clear that SAP is developing links between SAP applications and mobile devices through the new platform, not actually porting SAP software to mobile systems. An SAP-Sybase team is being assembled to develop applications for the mobile computing platform.

The project builds on development work SAP and Sybase already had underway. In March, before the acquisition was announced, the two companies unveiled a plan to use the Sybase Unwired Platform to provide links between SAP CRM applications and the Apple iPhone and devices running Windows Mobile.

The technical details of the plan unveiled Thursday involve integrating the mobile component of SAP NetWeaver, the technology integration platform SAP applications run on, and SAP BusinessObjects Mobile software with the Sybase Unwired Platform. The executives said that would create a single mobile development and deployment platform with integrated analytical capabilities.

The companies also will port SAP Business Suite applications and the SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse to Sybase ASE 15.0, the Sybase database that was the core of the company's business in the 1980s and 1990s before its expansion into mobile computing. The SAP BusinessObjects BI software already works with Sybase ASE and Sybase IQ 15.0, Sybase's data warehouse system.