SAP Readies Apple iOS SDK For Release, Anticipates Wave Of Innovation From Channel Partners

SAP is set to release on March 30 a cloud platform software developer kit for iOS, a key deliverable in the SAP-Apple alliance that will help SAP channel partners develop native iPhone and iPad iOS applications for critical business operations.

"I believe we're going to grow a whole new partner ecosystem through this SDK," said Rick Knowles, an SAP senior vice president and general manager of the Apple partnership, in an interview with CRN.

SAP unveiled the scheduled availability of the SAP Cloud Platform SDK for iOS Monday at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

[Related: SAP Targets Digital Transformation Projects With Its Next Generation Of The HANA Platform]

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SAP also said developers could now register for SAP Academy for iOS to receive training in using the SDK. Initial classes and workshops are available with a global rollout slated for later this year.

Altogether there are an estimated 2.5 million SAP developers globally and 13 million Apple developers, according to SAP.

The May 5 news of the alliance between SAP and Apple was seen by many as a watershed moment for both companies. For Walldorf, Germany-based SAP, it offers the vendor, its customers and partners a new way to provide access to SAP's business systems and applications. For Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple, it provides a new route into the enterprise market.

The SDK provides a way for developers to build enterprise-grade applications for iPhone and iPad devices based on the SAP Cloud Platform and Apple's Swift programming language.

"It really gives our customers more flexibility than they have had in the past," said Knowles, adding the development of iOS applications that connect to SAP applications should extend the use of SAP software inside large organizations to more employees.

IT services provider, systems integrator and SAP partner Atos already has developers working with both the SAP Cloud Platform and iOS, so adoption of the new SDK is a natural, said Martin Gruber, a digital transformation executive with Bezons, France-based Atos.

"This is what our customers are expecting from us, to help them digitally transform their businesses," Gruber said in an interview with CRN. "Clearly, Apple mobile is a key component for us in the digital transformation journey for our customers."

Atos has been working with an early version of the SDK to develop applications for Fundermax, a European manufacturer of derived timber products and decorative laminates, that digitally transform the company's sales processes.

The SDK incorporates elements of Fiori, SAP's application user interface design language, and application programming interfaces for linking mobile applications with back-end systems such as the SAP S/4HANA application suite and third-party applications. Knowles said. It also includes a library of pre-built user interface components that access device capabilities such as Touch ID, location services and notifications.

SAP is currently building its own native iOS applications for specific industries, such as manufacturing and retail, and for lines of business to support core work processes.

The first of these applications, set for a March 30 release, is SAP Project Companion for Managers and Consultants, designed for professional service providers to improve collaboration within project teams. The application links to the SAP S/4HANA Professional Services Cloud via the SAP Cloud Platform.

SAP is also developing a native iOS application for SAP's SuccessFactors talent management cloud application, Knowles said.

But Knowles said SAP believes that "the vast amount of innovation" will come from customers and the SAP partner community. He also saw an opportunity for partners to provide applications and development services for business customers who need the iOS applications, but don't want to devote internal IT resources to develop them.