SAP hopes partners will rev up mobile apps sales

Business All-in-One partners can now resell SAP's Sybase mobility software

Thousands of SAP partners who sell the Business All-in-One ERP (enterprise resource planning) suite and Business Objects analytics software can now also offer customers Sybase mobile technology and applications, SAP announced this week.

SAP, which acquired Sybase last year, has been pushing mobile applications hard since then.

Business All-in-One is aimed at small and midsized companies, and has been extensively tweaked for various industries by SAP partners.

These partners can talk to customers about all the same specialized business processes they're used to, but within the context of mobility, said Friedrich Neumeyer, SAP senior vice president, volume reseller and service partners, global ecosystem and channels.

Partners will be able to sell the Sybase Afaria mobile device management and security toolset, the Unwired mobile development platform and a pair of applications that provide mobile hooks into its Business Suite and CRM (customer relationship management) software, according to a statement. They can also use the Sybase technology to develop and sell custom applications and services.

SAP's announcement makes sense in the big picture, but there's a caveat to consider, according to Jon Reed, an independent analyst who closely tracks SAP.

"The average [Business All-in-One] partner isn't going to be able to hit the ground running with this stuff," he said. "Mobility partners understand it. But whether those mobility partners are familiar with All-in-One is another question."

SAP partner Optimal, for one, is well-prepared, said Elliott Garofalo, senior vice president of SME at the Irving, Texas, systems integrator. "[Mobility] was one of the big focus areas in our planning session last year," he said. "We started interviewing a lot of customers and prospects even prior to the Sybase acquisition. Everyone wanted to talk about mobility, even small companies."

Optimal plans to deliver both packaged mobile applications and one-off products based on individual customers' needs, he said.

But it's most important for customers to figure out a long-term mobility plan, he said. "We say you've got to think big, but start small, from the mobility perspective."

Optimal first works with clients to develop a road map that won't lock them into certain mobile devices, avoids unnecessary development and figures out the best targets for mobile applications, he said.

SAP is positioning Sybase's mobility software as a "platform business" when it comes to partners, according to Neumeyer. "If they build their own mobile IP, they can resell it as their own business opportunity. We are not charging any royalties here."

In terms of pricing, the Sybase products are being treated like any other SAP product, with partners able to purchase them from SAP's master reseller price list, Neumeyer said.

SAP itself will mostly focus on building mobile applications with applicability across many industries, but will likely target some verticals as well, according to Neumeyer.

Garofalo expressed little concern about competing with SAP on the mobility front. "It's really been a joint effort to make sure we're not stepping on each other's toes, wasting development dollars building the same thing. The goal isn't to build competing products," he said.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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