(NetWeaver Mobile information corrected with details from my compatriots at SAP)
Executive keynotes obviously have their place, delivering the Vendor's Big Message. Which is why they rarely deliver the technical and roadmap info that users and developers crave. So while the speeches of SAP CTO Vishal Sikka and Sybase executive vice-president Raj Nathan were well-received by the tech analysts yesterday at SAP's Influencer Summit in Silicon Valley, many more details on SAP and Sybase's mobile plans came out in a more-intimate afternoon deep-dive session.
Watching attendee tweets from afar, here's the six main things I gleaned:
1) After months of uncertainty since the Sybase acquisition, NetWeaver Mobile is finally, officially, being integrated with the Sybase Unwired Platform (SUP). According to independent consultant Kevin Benedict, the NetWeaver Mobile team has moved into the SUP team at Sybase, with the Data Orchestration Engine being integrated into SUP. Existing NetWeaver Mobile customers will continue to be supported, while future customers can simply deploy SUP. Other parts of NetWeaver continue full steam ahead.
2) The goal with SUP is to enable "containerized" Web-style apps to be developed for mobile, says Benedict. The overall Sybase mobile SDK includes SUP and the Project Gateway (due in 1st half of 2011) which connects mobile apps to SAP data and processes. It will include server and client APIs, API libraries and development tools, according to consultant Jon Reed. Sybase will continue to develop mobile APIs for "all major ERPs, technologies and business apps," wrote Benedict.
4) SAP and Sybase, as readers know, is building not just the app platform, but apps itself. It demoed an self-service HR app with analytics, and a BlackBerry travel and expense app that let users take photos of their receipts using the BlackBerry's camera. It also plans to have an mobile enterprise asset management (EAM) app running on SUP by next spring's Sapphire show. And there is a "major effort" to create a mobile analytics app to supplement the mobile coupon, banking and advertising services that SAP/Sybase already have.
5) Despite SAP/Sybase's plans, there remain plenty of opportunities for developers: building add-ons to the mobile SDK, for instance, or selling analytics apps for SAP's just-launched EcoHub. Also enterprise performance management apps linked to SAP. And customizing mobile apps will remain a fruitful endeavor.
6) Tellabs, one of Sybase/SAP's early users (see my headline from a few months ago, "Tellabs Says SAP App is Two-Thirds Faster On iPad Than Laptop"), is expanding its use of SAP supply chain management apps for mobile. Its CIO calls Sybase the hidden jewel of this strategy, which includes a Bring Your Own Device policy for employee smartphones and tablets. The telecom vendor's business users love to test mobile apps, according to the CIO, who believes that soon all apps will be first developed for mobile, with only a tiny subset ported over to desktop PCs, and also that enterprise mobile apps will inevitably have a short lifecycle.