SAP expands partner program for application development

The new program features a broader set of technologies and deployment models

SAP has broadened its partner program for companies that want to develop applications using its technology and then sell them through the SAP online store.

While SAP already had programs aimed at mobile application development and its HANA Cloud service, the expanded offering brings in more technologies and also accommodates partners who want to build products that run on-premises, according to Monday's announcement.

Partners will also be able to bundle and sell runtime licenses for SAP platform software with any applications they build, "so you can join the program once and then decide on your application scope, architecture, business model and routes to market," according to an FAQ document. This approach also gives partners the ability "to act as 'one face to the customer,'" SAP said.

SAP will charge partners royalties for the platform products "as a percentage of the net revenue of your packaged application (based on license list price and considering standard discounts such as volume discounts)," according to the FAQ.

Admission to the program requires a "low annual fee," which gives partners access to their choice of "innovation packs" centered on various SAP products.

SAP Technologies covered by the expanded program include HANA, HANA Cloud, mobile platform, NetWeaver and ABAP, Sybase ASE, Sybase IQ and Sybase SQL Anywhere.

The program features a variety of partner onboarding services, ongoing training and support, and ultimately product review and certification services.

Partners can get their products qualified for the SAP store through an application review at no additional charge. Integration certifications are available for a fee. SAP charges 15 percent of revenue for applications sold through its store, compared to 30 percent for Apple's iTunes store.

However, iTunes has a far higher profile than SAP's store, as one question in the FAQ document alluded to. "SAP will drive demand to the SAP Store and will develop it further," the FAQ states.

One-year, limited access "exploration memberships" for the expanded partner program are available for those who want to try before they buy, according to SAP.

The announcement is "a welcome evolution of partner development onboarding," said Jon Reed, an independent analyst who closely tracks SAP, via email. "It's more integrated, and increasingly clear on pricing."

"Basically SAP has consolidated and simplified the ability for partners to develop apps," Reed added. "Even though the marketplace for those apps is not as well-established or conceived, SAP clearly needs a real apps ecosystem around its products and partners need this kind of simplified process."

Still, "it's a welcome step but there is still a lot to prove in terms of partners building apps that are truly impactful for customers," he said.

In addition, "a big missing piece from what i can see is connecting this partner program to individual developers (such as highly skilled independents)," Reed said. "That path is clear inside SAP but it doesn't seem clear from the outside."

SAP's announcement didn't particularly emphasize one technology more than another, even though HANA has emerged as the focal point for all internal development efforts.

It has launched a separate program for HANA aimed at getting startup companies to build products on the platform, and says to date that more than 500 have joined.

Also Monday, SAP announced that three more software vendors -- PROS, AlertEnterprise and Clockwork -- have become HANA OEM (original equipment manufacturer) partners and will embed the technology in their products.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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