SAP and Mobile these two words have originated from different centuries. Whenever SAP was created a phone was something that stood on the table and had anything but a display. When in 2008 an iPhone opened the era of applications for mobile devices few would imagine the capacity that it opened which gave access to a heavy ERP backend. Nowadays having a mobile front-end for any system is so widespread that SAP just cannot stand aside.
In the middle of 2013, SAP introduced a unified approach to addressing Mobile application SAP Mobile Platform 3.0. SMP was taken as a basis, for later on appeared SAP HANA Cloud Platform Mobile Services. Both of these approaches established a clear path for the current uptodate environment, while legacy systems, which do not correspond to minimal requirements, were sidelined. In this paper, we try to address a standard way and approach which might be a solution for legacy systems to enable access from mobile and open a new presentation layer for existing systems.
The SAP Way
Functionality provided by SAP Mobile Platform can be presented from two perspectives; Development and Administration as well as Functional and Technical capabilities
– From the Developer standpoint SAP Mobile Platform 3.0 provides:
- A platform for the development of Mobile Apps. The developer is provided with a Development Kit from an existing toolset for native, hybrid or mobile webapps. As to hybrid, SAP advocates for Kapsel, based on Apache Cordova.
- OData Offline Services. Each of the paradigms utilizes OData framework based on Open Data Protocol where one of core concepts is having the possibility to develop offline applications that synchronize data once a connection becomes available.
- Integration Gateway can be found in SMP 3.0 to provide standardized data integration across a range of backends, addressing both SAP and nonSAP backends.
– From an administration perspective, SAP Mobile Platforms has the following components:
- Server Based Feature Management - Allows you to manage features, or bundles at product-build time and after installation which can be downloaded by apps.
- Lifecycle Management – SMP provides the possibility to operate with different versions of hybrid apps. You have the opportunity to upload a new version of the app while the previous one is still in operation.
- Security Administration – SAP Mobile Platform Server 3.0 enables you to have endtoend authentication from client to backend via https
- Management Cockpit – provides you with the possibility to deploy, manage and monitor native, hybrid, Agentry and Mobile BI applications as well as access applications’ analytics and logs.
The core component among all these features is enabling the possibility to work offline. OData Offline Services caches data on the client side and merge deltas update accordingly.
An Approach For Legacy SAP Setup
Within a recent project, we were put in a situation where the core version of the system was 7.0 and there was no chance to upgrade the infrastructure to enable SAP Mobile Platform, but there was a “must have” requirement to enable offline access from mobile devices to the existing system.
The solution implemented basically used some of the ideas behind SAP Mobile Platform at the same time introducing some domain specific features on top. We would also like to analyze the approach taken from the Development and Administration perspectives:
- Offline Mode with postponed synchronization. Introduced a data model which allowed for the execution of a provided set of operations offline. Manually triggered synchronization allows for the execution of a stack of commands for incremented updates of data.
- Communication Protocol. Communication with SAP was based on calling of Web Services which were transformed to REST JSON calls on the stateless Mobile APP Server. The Mobile APP server also contained minimal cache of dictionary data.
Administration & Distribution
- Distribution channel. Mobile server based deployment and versioning of apps with triggered notification on updates.
- Help desk system. EndtoEnd help desk system to address requests from mobile users from SAP GUI client.
- Remote activity monitor. Mobile App server based overview of client’s mobile logs, activities, actions etc.
- Security administration - SAP based access of the user’s role for the app. Container managed security with encrypted local storage on the client’s mobile.
- Network Monitor allows one to ensure reliable data transfer
Given the fact that you can control the environment in which you can operate, you definitely should follow the main road and use SAP Mobile Platform. At the same time, in the old legacy system where changing the infrastructure landscape is not an option, there is a way out and that is enabling access to the client’s mobile and using all the data and power from long living systems.
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