Sybase Announces Sybase Mobility Platform

Sybase is unveiling its Sybase Mobility Platform, a framework for bringing business applications and services such as banking and analytics to mobile devices. Many of those applications leverage SAP products such as SAP Business Suite, although Sybase executives are not saying how SAP's recent $5.8 billion acquisition of Sybase will ultimately affect the Sybase Mobility Platform's future roadmap. The Sybase Mobility Platform involves several components, including mobile servers, mobile applications, and mobile services.

Sybase unveiled the Sybase Mobility Platform, a framework for bringing business applications and services such as banking and analytics to mobile devices, on May 20. The platform features mobile servers, applications and services operating in tandem. The more prominently featured initial applications include Sybase Mobile Sales for SAP CRM and Sybase Mobile Workflow for SAP Business Suite, reflecting the close partnership that eventually led to SAP's recent bid for Sybase.

During a briefing in New York City with analysts and reporters May 18, Sybase executives declined to comment on how that acquisition would affect its mobile strategy going forward. That $5.8 billion acquisition, announced May 12, allows SAP to consolidate and expand on its mobile offerings, where some analysts have seen the company as lacking. It seems inevitable that SAP-branded functionality will become a key offering in the Sybase Mobility Platform.

"Mobile devices are becoming the preferred interaction point with business applications, whether the user is a factory supervisor, a retail manager or an entrepreneur in a developing nation," Jim Hagemann Snabe, co-CEO of SAP and a member of the SAP executive board, wrote in a May 12 statement announcing the acquisition.

Sybase Mobility Platform's mobile servers will provide application middleware, email and workflow capability, data storage, and reporting and analytics power. Many of the Sybase Mobility Platform's services seem to focus on financial transactions, including mobile payments and remittance. Sybase 365 President Marty Beard told assembled analysts and reporters during the May 18 briefing that customer demand for such services "has surprised us a bit, moving more quickly than we thought." The company has seen massive demand for mobile banking services internationally, particularly the Middle East and parts of Asia, and anticipates a similar uptake to begin in the United States at some point.

Part of the overall demand for mobile applications, Beard said, comes from the rising popularity of smartphones as consumer items.

"Market always drives the need," Beard added. "Consumers are slamming the enterprise with the need to work through mobility. IT has had to look at this trend and say, -Okay, I need to provide this.' The consumer is forcing this change back on the enterprise." While the smartphone environment is likely to remain heterogeneous for some time to come, with workers demanding mobile enterprise functionality on a variety of devices ranging from Google Android to BlackBerry phones, Sybase aims with its platform to give those workers easy access to mobile sales and workflow applications.

"Despite significant developments in mobile device functionality and performance and the widespread usage by consumers, enterprise mobility is still very complex and costly as a result of siloed systems and device interoperability," Stephen Drake, an analyst at IDC, wrote in a statement included a May 20 Sybase press release. "Software suppliers delivering an integrated platform capable of bridging the consumer and enterprise mobility divide will demonstrate the most success in this market."

Sybase plans to announce a number of partners on this new initiative, which its executives have touted as the culmination of the company's supposed decade in the mobility space. Cost for the Sybase Mobility Platform will vary on the installation.