SAP Executive: VARs Can Tap Into New iOS Apps, Platform As Part Of SAP's New Partnership With Apple

SAP partners will be able to reap the benefits of a newly announced Apple and SAP partnership, an executive told CRN on Thursday.

The partnership will allow SAP, Walldorf, Germany, to develop native iPhone and iPad iOS apps for critical business operations, as well as deliver SAP HANA Cloud Platform SDK exclusively for iOS -- both of which will be available for SAP channel partners that sell to midmarkets and small to midsize business customers.

"We see traditional VAR partners having an opportunity to resell these industry applications and provide their unique expertise," Kevin Ichhpurani, SAP executive vice president of strategic business development, told CRN. "This is also an opportunity for partners to resell the platform to customers and innovate on top."

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An Apple spokesman did not respond by publication time to a CRN email inquiring about whether the partnership indicated a channel play for Apple resellers.

As part of the partnership, SAP will develop native iPhone and iPad iOS apps for critical business operations using Swift, Apple's programming language.

The companies will also deliver a new open platform as a service SAP HANA Cloud Platform SDK exclusively for iOS, which will enable businesses, designers and developers to build their own iOS apps for the iPhone and iPad.

According to SAP, these native apps will take advantage of iPhone and iPad features, including TouchID, location services and notifications, while providing access to data and business processes on the SAP S/4HANA business suite.

While SAP was once known for selling its customer relationship management applications to large enterprises, more recently the company has sharpened its focus on the SMB space and buffing up its partner program for that market.

"This [partnership] will enable more business for us," said Tomas Fertig, CEO of Seidor, a Spring, Texas-based SAP partner. "Apple and SAP working together didn't surprise us. Apple is one of the leading companies for providing mobile apps, and today the whole world is moving to consuming software through mobile."

On Apple's end, this most recent deal with SAP is reminiscent of the Cupertino, Calif.-based company's partnership with IBM in 2014, in which IBM would build industry-specific apps for iOS gear and resell Apple iPhones and iPads.

IBM now has engagements for more than 200 deployments of native iOS apps for large enterprise customers to accelerate mobile transformation, according to Apple.

During Apple's second-quarter earnings call in April, CEO Tim Cook said the company is making "great progress" with its enterprise initiatives.

"This partnership will transform how iPhone and iPad are used in enterprise by bringing together the innovation and security of iOS with SAP's deep expertise in business software," said Cook in a news release. "As the leader in enterprise software and with 76 percent of business transactions touching an SAP system, SAP is the ideal partner to help us truly transform how businesses around the world are run on iPhone and iPad."

According to Apple, the software development kits will begin rolling out before the end of the year.