SAP, Sybase and the New Mobile Software World
The enterprise mobile software market is heating up. SAP recently announced its intent to acquire middleware giant Sybase for $5.8 billion. On the heels of that, Sybase unveiled its new Mobility Platform. Together, the two companies are destined to be a force in the enterprise mobile software market—a space long overdue for definition and leadership. Many VARs and IT solution providers rely on Sybase for its mobile middleware, databases and development kits. So, will the SAP acquisition and the new platform help or hurt solution providers?
The skinny on the Sybase Mobility Platform and its applications
Briefly, the platform is mostly a repackaging of Sybase's existing mobile assets with some new flavors and twists that will enable resellers, solution providers and enterprises to go to Sybase as a one-stop shop for all their mobile services and software needs, if they choose.
>> SAP, Sybase and Partners—Cannibalize or Thrive?
The new Sybase Mobility Platform has three components and is a combination of cloud-based services and on-site software: server-based software, mobile services and packaged applications. The platform supports almost every platform and device, including plain-old feature phones, RIM BlackBerry, Microsoft Windows, iPhone, Symbian and more. No Android, yet, but Sybase Senior Vice President Gary Kovacs says the company plans to support it in the first quarter of 2011.
The new Mobile Server Package includes Sybase mobile software assets taken from various acquisitions and homegrown solutions like iAnywhere, Afaria and the Unwired Platform. Products span the gamut of a mobile SDK (software development kit), device management, application middleware, mobile e-mail and more.
Sybase's Mobile Services component offers a variety of mCommerce, billing, mobile marketing and secure messaging services designed to help enterprises manage and execute business-to-consumer and business-to-employee mobile applications in a wide variety of industries.
Delivering packaged applications is completely new for Sybase, and it is no surprise that with acquisition news, the first ones available include two applications focused on Mobile Sales for SAP CRM and Mobile Work Flow for SAP Business Suite. There is also one for mBanking.
Sybase plans to unveil more SAP applications, but Kovacs says the company knows it will have to rely on vertical solutions players, VARs and others to meet the enterprise demand for all the required mobile applications.
SAP aims to lead the mobile space—Will it?
SAP has been fiddling around with mobile since the '90s. Over the past decade, the Swiss giant made a few mobile-focused acquisitions as well as investing in mobile research and development trying to solve the mobility problem. In 2009, the company announced a strategy that named RIM, Sybase and Syclo as its key mobile co-innovation partners. Until then, SAP chose to go it alone and never really achieved huge amounts of enterprise mobility success. Its products went through numerous iterations and naming as it attempted to sell into its install base.
Why? Well, because mobile is hard—really, really hard. SAP focuses on selling SAP, as it should, and over time, mobile increasingly became a check-box that did not generate a ton of revenue compared with the hundreds of millions brought in by enterprise licenses.
The mobile times are changing, though. If this week is any indication, SAP sure "gets it" now.
"We acquire to move the company forward. With the acquisition of Sybase, we become No. 1 in mobile solutions," said SAP Co-CEO Hagemann Snabe during SapphireNow, held May 17 to 19.
"The acquisition fits into SAP's overall strategy. They want to lead in ERP, analytics and mobile, and Sybase fits with the SAP strategy of [on-premises], on-demand and on-device," said Rich Padula, CEO of Syclo, one of SAP's co-innovator partners.
SAP, Sybase and Partners—Cannibalize or Thrive?