SAP Cloud Partnerships Expand On-Demand Options - InformationWeek

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5/20/2011
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SAP Cloud Partnerships Expand On-Demand Options

Amazon, Dell, Verizon and China Telecom services deals highlight the app vendor's broad cloud-computing strategy.

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The release of the 2.0 version of the Sybase Unwired Platform (SUP) and supporting software development kit was big news this week at Sapphire. If you're an SAP partner or a large enterprise with plans to deploy and customize multiple mobile applications, SUP is for you. But if you're only interested in deploying a few applications and you're not interested in deploying mobile infrastructure, SUP might seem like overkill.

And then there's Afaria, Sybase's cross-platform, mobile-device-management and security platform. It's aimed at firms that haven't standardized and that don't want to have to standardize on infrastructure for a single mobile platform such as iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Symbian, or Windows Mobile. Afaria offers management and security for all these platforms form a single console. That sounds great, but some firms might balk at deploying and maintaining even consolidated mobile infrastructure.

Enter Verizon and its Managed Mobility Suite. Verizon announced last week that it will deliver SUP and Afaria as on-demand services. The Afaria service will be $7 per device, per month, with discounts depending on the length of the contract and volume of users.

Pricing for the subscription-based Sybase Unwired services depends on the applications supported and SUP components used. To give you some idea, costs will be "a couple of dollars" per device, per month for simple applications up to $50 per month for complex applications with multiple back-end integrations to SAP applications, according to a Verizon spokesperson.

Business ByDesign is more than just an application suite for small and midsize companies. It's also a platform upon which other applications will be built. The company has already released SAP Carbon Impact OnDemand and SAP Sourcing OnDemand "extension" apps built on the platform, and at Sapphire SAP announced a Sales OnDemand (sales force automation) app set for subscription availability in June. Later this year the company will add a Travel OnDemand travel-expense reporting app and a Talent Management OnDemand app for HR.

These are called extension apps because they integrate with SAP on-premises applications to pull in crucial data. Carbon Impact, for example, draws data on supply chain, manufacturing, and distribution inputs, as well as other activities tracked in ERP, to measure a firm's total energy usage. Sourcing links with Supply Chain apps and Sales OnDemand with CRM.

Many pundits haven't been too impressed by SAP's recent milestone of reaching 500 customers on Business ByDesign, and ditto the company's goal of reaching 1,000 customers by year's end. That pales by comparison to the number of customers Salesforce.com adds in a single month. This week at Sapphire, SAP execs talked about a steep growth curve in future years, and they specifically pointed to the deal with China Telecom as a catalyst. SAP co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe said the deal with the telco giant will expose ByDesign to a base of more than 1 million small and midsize businesses in China.

As with all of the partnerships described above, the deal with China Telecom is about what's ahead, not achievements to date. One would hope that by next year's Sapphire event, SAP's count of customers using various on-demand services will have climbed into the five-figure range.

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