SAP Goes All In With New Public Cloud Platform, iOS Dev Tools

The company unwraps SAP Cloud Platform (formerly SAP HANA Cloud) and announces major plans to support development of enterprise iOS apps.

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SAP is greatly expanding its developer strategy via an alliance with Apple, and recasting the SAP HANA Cloud Platform as simply SAP Cloud Platform with new capabilities designed for developers, internet of things and big data projects. 

The enterprise software giant is scheduled to make the announcement Feb. 27 at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. SAP Cloud Platform will include a software development kit (SDK) for iOS (due out March 30) based on Apple’s Swift programming language. Apple and SAP announced their partnership last May.

“This is a fundamental strategy change for us. We’ve had to flip our model,” Rick Knowles, senior vice president and general manager of the Apple Partnership at SAP, told eWEEK.

Knowles said SAP has traditionally focused on addressing the back-end and core IT services in the enterprise and then out to departments, but not typically end users. “How can SAP provide a good experience if we don’t have empathy for that end user? We’re not really good at that,” he said.

The answer was to partner with Apple, known for its focus on the customer experience.

“We worked with Apple to build, in an integrated way, an SDK that is fully exposed along with add-ons, prebuilt landscapes and templates to speed up development time like writing log-in scripts and to create things in a far faster way,” said Knowles.

Where a typical SAP app might take as long as six months to a year to create, Knowles said the new SDK will shorten that time to one or two months for a prototype and another month to finished product.

The SAP Cloud Platform, a so-called platform as a service (PaaS), is designed to accelerate the creation of new cloud-based apps as well as help companies extend and migrate traditional on-premises apps to the cloud for more flexible access and manageability.

Where SAP is best known and has thrived as a supplier of traditional enterprise apps in such areas as manufacturing, these new announcements are designed to broaden its appeal. “In the context of apps our customers already use to run their business, we’re now giving them the ability to tie that back to the cloud, to mobile and be more relevant,” Dan Lahl, vice president of product marketing for the SAP Cloud Platform, told eWEEK.  “We talk to over 300,000 enterprise customers. This is SAP waking up to the fact that there is a huge market out there and we need to address it in a very aggressive way.”

The company also announced that the SAP Cloud Platform IoT service is available in a beta version. The new release is designed to integrate IoT services with the SAP Cloud Smart Data Streaming service for faster processing of streaming data. It supports over 40 device protocols with device management that can help companies leverage IoT for immediate detection and quicker response.

Other new features coming March 30 include the Project Companion mobile app, a native iOS app that offers integration via the SAP Cloud into the SAP S/4HANA Professional Services Cloud. SAP says the app offers real-time data to dramatically simplify access for consultants, project managers and other mobile workers.

Also set for release March 30 is the SAP Business Hub, a catalog of APIs of SAP applications meant to help developers build out and test new functions and applications. Current APIs include SAP S/4HANA Cloud, Mobile Service and SAP Localization Hub-Tax service APIs.

In addition to its own apps, SAP said that more than 1,000 partner apps have already been built on SAP Cloud Platform.

On the iOS side of things though, analyst Tim Bajarin notes that SAP is somewhat playing catching up to IBM, which has released and supports a number of iOS apps for the enterprise as part its partnership with Apple.

“What’s significant here is that like IBM, SAP is huge in the enterprise and this is bringing that SAP community, the SAP ecosystem, including all the VARs and system integrators, to iOS,” Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, told eWEEK. “It’s important to note that a big driver of this is SAP’s customers saying they want it.”

Knowles said that SAP is also making a big investment in education. “Apple has something like 13 million developers, and we have 2.5 million. We realize we have to build a new developer community around iOS and provide support for both communities,” said Knowles.

To that end, SAP is launching a developer academy and a set of courses covering a range of topics including the Swift programming language, the iOS SDK and SAP Cloud SDK. Later this year Knowles said SAP will announce additional courses and a certification program.

The free offerings will include 10-to-20-minute training in targeted areas like APIs.

David Needle

David Needle

Based in Silicon Valley, veteran technology reporter David Needle covers mobile, bi g data, and social media among other topics. He was formerly News Editor at Infoworld, Editor of Computer Currents...