SAN FRANCISCO -- SAP, one of the international masters of the on-site enterprise application and middleware world, and mobile IT are two terms that hadn't been mentioned in the same sentence too often before April 10.
That's because the German software and database products and services company had a low-visibility public persona when it comes to enabling mobile devices to use its industrial-grade software.
Not anymore, however. At a media event here at the Westin St. Francis Hotel, SAP revealed that it has acquired enterprise mobile infrastructure provider Syclo to handle those development chores. Terms of the deal were not released.
Also at the event, SAP announced that 2012 is the year it will heavily emphasize real-time data management capabilities based on its new-generation HANA database and surrounding middleware.
Mobile Data Management for Industrial Use Cases
Syclo's expertise is in building and selling customized mobile solutions in sectors, such as manufacturing, utilities, oil and gas, and life sciences, which happen to all be areas in which SAP has had a strong presence for a couple of decades. In fact, about 40 percent of SAP's installed base is in the manufacturing realm.
"They [SAP] really put a stake in the group two years ago with the acquisition of Sybase," Yankee Group analyst Gene Signorini told eWEEK. "They've shown some real foresight in the fact that mobility is transforming enterprise computing.
"SAP has really committed to Sybase during the last two years, and they've seriously promoted their products to developers and at the Sapphire event. This move [Syclo] is a re-affirmation of that commitment."
Signorini said that this acquisition puts them out ahead of some of their key competitors, like Oracle and IBM, to an extent.
"To their credit, I think they've been a little more aggressive [in embracing mobile] than some of the traditional IT vendors, such as IBM and Oracle," Signorini said. "I certainly think SAP has been out in front. If you look at all the big technology shifts in enterprise, about every 20 years it creates winners and users, and it creates companies that go away.
"SAP recognized that, or else they could have been relegated to the IT graveyard."
In the last two years, SAP has been using Sybase's Unwired Platform as the company's infrastructure for developing and managing mobile apps. SAP will forge ahead with the deployment of new mobile asset management and field service solutions on the newer Syclo software while continuing to fully support Sybase's installed base.
Using both platforms, SAP now will be able to securely port formerly data center-bound applications, such as its CRM, ERP and other management tools to portable devices such as laptops, smartphones and tablets.
Syclo, headquartered in the Chicago area, has about 600 customers in 39 countries across all major asset and mobile-intensive industries.
Syclo to Complement Sybase Mobile Platform
"Syclo complements SAP in key mobile areas, such as enterprise asset management, field services, inventory management and approvals/workflow, and represents a significant growth opportunity for SAP," SAP Global Solutions President Sanjay Poonen said.
Following the close of the transaction, Syclo apps will be integrated with the SAP mobile platform and SAP Afaria for mobile device management and security.
Syclo's worldwide headquarters is located in Hoffman Estates, Ill., in the northwest suburban Chicago area. Syclo's European office is just outside London in Surrey, U.K.
SAP's Road Map: HANA Database Everywhere
In other news at the event, SAP announced that the new HANA in-memory database will become available to run with everything the company produces.
"HANA will become the core of the SAP real-time data platform, because it offers the best performance in the business for next-generation applications," Steve Lucas, executive vice president of SAP's Business Analytics and Technology group, said at the conference.
HANA, launched in December 2010, is a system based on the in-memory computing technology, offering what Vishal Sikka, SAP's executive board member in charge of technology and innovation, called "breakthrough analytics to enable businesses to explore and act on big data."
In-memory computing will at the same time let businesses simplify their IT infrastructures by reducing the need for data caches and similar technologies.
Its also one of the foundations of SAP's overall strategy, which also includes cloud and mobile computing that Sybase and Syclo bring to the company.
Chris Preimesberger is Editor of eWEEK Features and Analysis. Twitter: @editingwhiz