Sapphire: Cloudy With the Promise of Business Transformation

by Eric Klein | 05/15/2013

SAP kicked off the first day of their annual SAPPHIRE NOW event this week in Orlando with 4 press releases ( - two of which pertain directly to enterprise mobility. First, the company announced that its Afaria device management solution was available on Amazon's Web Services (AWS) Marketplace. The AWS Marketplace will offer a fully configured SAP Afaria 7.0 server, that brings a new UI, Windows Phone 8 support, an app portal that is integrated with the SAP Store, as well as mobile analytics dashboards for BI reporting. SAP clearly sees the need to be aggressive as vendors such as AirWatch, MobileIron, and Fiberlink are enjoying significant success in the channel and in acquiring new customers. In this vein, SAP revealed competitive pricing ($1.11 per user/month), as well as the ability trial its Afaria solution for free (a first for the company). 

SAP has built a sizeable roster of managed mobility partners such as (Atos, HP, Rogers, and Swisscom - to name just a few) that will be able to execute the new business that emerges from the AWS Marketplace or offer a co-branded instance of Afaria in the cloud via their own cloud. SAP's Sanjay Poonen (President, and head of SAP's Mobile Division) hosted a roundtable and provided some color around the value proposition of moving Afaria to the cloud that he sees for the company's existing customers and prospects. SAP seems to be settling on the name "Afaria Cloud Edition"

“By offering SAP Afaria on the secure, scalable AWS cloud infrastructure ... and making it as easy as possible for customers and partners to test and deploy the industry’s leading mobile device management solution in an economical and reliable fashion” 

The second mobile-oriented release centered on the company's furthering of its mobile security portfolio - SAP revealed that it has partnered with Mocana, and will resell the company's flagship security solution (Mobile App Protection or MAP). "App wrapping" is a core element of Mocana's MAP solution, and was a notable hole in SAP's holistic EMM strategy - while many of SAP's competitors offer app wrapping solutions, Mocana has significant tenure, IP and presence in federal markets (the company has been active in these markets since 2002), offers a robust solution, and is a good choice as a partner for this capability. Some have criticized SAP for not developing this capability on their own, I disagree, as does the company's co-CEO who made clear that he recognizes the value of partners in filling gaps in the company's product portfolio. The partnership with Mocana is just one element of the mobile security enhancements that SAP has revealed and SAP's Poonen made it clear that the company recognizes the need to emphasize mobile security "cyber security is increasingly a board room priority, and as such, iron-clad mobile security is job one for all CIOs and CISOs to execute their mobile strategy” - no doubt about this, and in this vein, the company has evolved its SAP Store solution (the company's MAM offering) which now offers a mobile app distribution storefront, which includes secure distribution of internally developed and purchased third-party apps - this was long overdue, and positions SAP as a true end-to-end EMM solution provider.

HANA Enterprise Cloud - Speed/Flexibity/Reliability

To date, the wide majority of SAP's customers remain largely "on-premise" - however, the company has clearly come to recognize that its customers are ready, willing and quickly moving to the cloud. SAP saw small and more nimble competitors such as Salesforce (not small any longer), NetSuite and Workday capitalize on its lack of a fomalized cloud strategy and has made notable acquisitions to better position its application portfolio for the cloud. The acquisitions of SuccessFactors and Ariba made it clear that SAP was serious about moving to the cloud - the company's HANA cloud (which SAP boasted had ~30M users on it today) takes the strategy even further by opening up a platform on which the company can foster innovation by giving new partners the ability to develop apps and solutions to run on the HANA cloud.

Stay tuned to our blog for further updates from Orlando.

Geek Sapphire stat: there are 5.2 miles of optical cable installed at the Orlando convention center for broadcasting video at this event.