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SAP Afaria 7.0: Mobile Management Leader Reboots with Fresh UI

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | February 27, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility,security | Comments (14)

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Superficially, SAP Afaria in 2011 had the same problem as Microsoft Office in 2006. But our approaches to solve this dilemma differ. And so, I argue, will their resulting effectiveness.

Like Office, Afaria has been the long-time leader in its market – mobile device management software. According to IDC Corp., Afaria has led the MDM market for 10 straight years, with about 20% market share and 1,000 corporate customers.

Like Office, the 16-year-old Afaria was originally built for a prior era. In Office’s case, it was an era in which 14-inch monitors reigned, and the Internet didn’t exist. In Afaria’s case, it was an era in which mobile devices were primarily laptops and PDAs.

As a result, like Office, Afaria has a wealth of powerful features and supported device types. In Afaria’s case, this includes not only iOS and Android, but also the many Windows Mobile devices used by field service workers, Windows laptops, tablet PCs and servers, Nokia Symbian phones, even Windows Point-of-Sale (POS) cash registers.

This is where I think things diverge. Microsoft’s solution was to build a new UI for Office 2007 called ‘The Ribbon’. The Ribbon is a chunky strip at the top of the screen that is intended to better organize and expose Office’s deep reservoir of features (reported to be in the many, many thousands).

Intended to ride on ever-growing size of monitor screens, the Ribbon was supposed to both simplify Office 2007 and simultaneously expose even more of its features, in order to convince price-sensitive consumers and small businesses to keep buying Office when slick, free alternatives like Google Docs abound.

It’s a schizophrenic pair of goals, and it was no wonder that the Ribbon has created a backlash from users who report more mouse clicks and more wasted productivity.

Also, the rise of tablets with their small screen sizes has forced Microsoft to backtrack and shrink the Ribbon again.

Afaria 7.0: Unabashedly about Productivity

Sybase wasn’t in the same dilemma as Microsoft. We don’t have to justify ourselves against free competitors by showing off all our features.

Also, we weren’t blindsided by the rise of mobile like Redmond. We knew that IT administrators were spending much more of their time using Afaria on the go with their iPads.

So with the Afaria 7.0 we just officially released at Mobile World Congress today, our goal was unabashedly to cut down on the clicks, simplify the UI so as to make it easier and faster for IT administrators to use.

I was given a demo of Afaria 7.0 by Sybase product manager Mark Jordan. It is definitely modernized and time-saving. While all of Afaria’s features remain, its workflows have been rebuilt to make more sense for today’s devices.

Browser support has been expanded to Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari from Internet Explorer only. And the touchscreen-enabled tablet version of the Afaria app has been enhanced so that Afaria administrators can do much much more from their iPad.

“With the latest release, SAP has completely revamped and streamlined Afaria’s administrative console, speeding up and simplifying mobility management for end users, IT managers and managed mobility providers,” said IDC analyst Stacy Crook. “These enhancements have the opportunity to significantly benefit customers as the number of mobile devices surpasses PCs in the enterprise and IT requires more simplified, cost-effective mobility management.”

There still are powerful improvements in Afaria 7.0. Integration with SAP BusinessObjects is one, allowing you to bring a market-leading BI tool to analyze your employees’ mobile usage, even from your iPad.

Telecom expense management (TEM) features are another. There’s also a new Web services application programming interface (API) that lets customers and partners better integrate Afaria 7.0 with their other software.

If you want to see this new UI in action or have questions, sign up for this March 21 (8 am PT/11 am ET) webinar hosted by SAP EcoHub. Russell Fry, a senior director at SAP’s Mobility Center of Excellence, will demo Afaria 7.0.

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14 responses so far ↓

  • 1 servo // Mar 20, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    I hope that new version bring better schedule management, simpler installation and maybe some mechanism to separate of private and work data. I think this is most desirable function.

  • 2 Mark Dayer // Apr 11, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    just starting to install Afaria 7 and testing. Was the demo recorded to be viewed again?

  • 3 Eric Lai, Senior Writer // Apr 12, 2012 at 11:47 am

    yes, the demo was recorded and you can view a replay on-demand at the SAP Ecohub site at the same link above.

  • 4 Alessio Terranova // Apr 19, 2012 at 3:01 am

    In my opinion was better the 6.6 release.

    In version 7.0 many functions are disable…

  • 5 Tran Viet Thang // May 1, 2012 at 11:40 pm

    just starting to install Afaria 7 and testing. Was the demo recorded to be viewed again?4WDK

  • 6 Steve Morris // May 9, 2012 at 1:59 am

    Hi – could you please confirm if release 7.0 of Afaria supports “Multiple IOS devices” for the same ExID (Exchange ActiveSync) User ? it is not supported in 6.6 .. was wondering whether this would be resolved in Release 7.0 ????

  • 7 Eric Lai, Senior Writer // May 9, 2012 at 8:29 am

    @Steve Morris – I’ve forwarded your comment to the Afaria team.

  • 8 Marcus // May 15, 2012 at 1:11 am

    Hi, wonder to check whether Afaria 7 is allow to push the document like pdf or jpg to iOS device ?

  • 9 Average Mobile Worker Carries 3.5 Devices. Here’s the Downside. | Innovation // May 18, 2012 at 6:30 am

    [...] that Afaria is complicated to learn? Well, the latest version 7.0 brings a new, simplier [...]

  • 10 vikram // Jun 5, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    If any one looking for AFARIA services,. Support, drop me a msg,. vikramramdev at gmail dot com

  • 11 Eric Lai, Senior Writer // Jun 13, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    Here’s a quick intro demo:

  • 12 No, the New iPad’s Best Features Are NOT Bad for Enterprises. | Innovation // Jul 17, 2012 at 10:04 am

    [...] latest version 7.0 of SAP Afaria offers just such MDM and TEM features. But any competent MDM package should give IT managers the [...]

  • 13 Sybase - Three Wildly Different Ways SAP Is Bring Mobile And Cloud Together | UberMobile // Jul 18, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    [...] with Afaria 7.0′s fresh UI and our 14-day free trial offer, it is now much faster and easier to test drive Afaria to see if [...]

  • 14 Shrikant // Aug 30, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    is this SYbase Afaria version is really better than previous versions ?

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