SAP uses Sybase Afaria to manage thousands of Apple devices, says CIO

Not only is SAP betting on innovation in the mobile space to become an important revenue stream, the business software maker is also using technology acquired from Sybase internally.

SAP is managing automatically 11,000 iPads and 5,000 iPhones using Sybase Afaria software, according to chief information officer Oliver Bussmann.

The same software can also be used for Android devices and in the coming year will be extended to Windows Phone 8, he told the UK&I SAP User Group Conference 2011 in Birmingham.

In addition to business phones running these platforms, SAP is also opening up to allow employees to use their personal devices for business purposes, starting with Asia and North America.

Where available, employees can use self-service facilities to enrol and activate their devices, but this process includes signing an agreement that SAP has full management control over the device.

So while SAP is enabling bring-your-own-device (BYOD) with regard to mobile phones, the company is reserving the right to control the device to ensure good data governance and security.

Bussmann revealed that he is one of the iPad users in the business, which enables him as CIO to access real-time corporate data and analytics, and CRM information as well as news and social media applications, all of which are downloadable from the SAP company app store.

The apps that any single employee can download and use are defined by policy based on user group. “Once an app is chosen, employees can be using it within a minute,” he said.

Bussmann rounded off his presentation with an demo in which he access live corporate sales data for 2010 in just a few clicks.