15 May 2014 | 0
With mobile technology rapidly approaching the point where the power of the PC in your pocket trumps that what is on your desktop, bringing the full benefits of cloud computing to mobile users is arguably the holy grail of enterprise computing in 2014.
Smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices are becoming steadily more powerful but to date the applications that run on them have largely remained consumer-orientated.
Putting the power of enterprise-class computing in the palm of the user’s hand is an enticing prospect and a growing number of enterprise class heavy hitters are mainstreaming mobility in their offerings.
Take SAP. According to Bert Schulze, senior director cloud global and customer marketing strategy for SAP, it is one major company that now develops all its cloud offerings with a mobile-first philosophy.
“Our senior executives aren’t really interested in seeing desktop screens anymore before they have seen a mobile screen,” he said.
“This is changing things and making our engineers focus on the design and integration of the mobile product from the beginning. Only then do they go from there to the desktop screen.”
Schulze said that mobile cloud applications represent a growing element of SAP’s business, a development that he ties to the ongoing trend of the consumerisation of IT.
“It’s led to us adopting a more end-user, customer-oriented way of working and consuming software. It’s also resulted in us transferring methodologies like ‘social’ into our entire suite of enterprise offerings in order to be able to mobilise people effectively,” he said.
SAP has two distinct mobile cloud offerings – the first takes the form of existing software that has a mobile front end added to it and the second are applications that have been developed from the outset with mobility in mind.
“As an enterprise vendor we’re probably a bit unusual as we have both on-premise and pure cloud solutions so customers can choose if they want to stay with their existing on premise solution, go into a public cloud environment or go into a managed hosted cloud environment,” said Schulze.
“On top of this we also have integration technology so customers can move between both environments seamlessly, with mobile answers for all of our offerings based on different technologies.”
In recommending the best course of action for customers unsure of which way to go, Schulze said SAP will always start by assessing the existing IT estate the company is working with.
“We’ll always look at where customers are coming from in their past dealings with us. If they have invested in classical on-premise solutions then we have a product environment called SAP Fiori which can mobilise these existing customers,” he said.
“If the customer is starting out with full or partially cloud-enabled infrastructure then of course cloud naturally comes with mobile functionality.”
According to Schulze, it is becoming increasingly typical for SAP customers to approach cloud mobility on the back of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) strategies.
“We are particularly seeing that in specific industries such as retail. There it’s common to find large multiples with full-time employees as well as part-time employees all of whom somehow need to be connected to the enterprise,” he said.
“Typically part-time workers don’t get a company device but they all have their own Smart phones and they’re able to use those to connect to the enterprise systems. For this we typically use the generic public cloud model because it has the advantage of running before the firewall of the customer.”
In addition the end user does not need any kind of enterprise system on their mobile device, a VPN installed or identity management systems. And according to Schulze, if the system is designed to operate as a thin client on the mobile device, there aren’t even any security risks surrounding where corporate data resides.
“This makes cloud in general, and public cloud in particular, perfect for the way we handle mobility in this kind of context,” he said.