Zebra’s Software Modernization Initiative for Devices Arrives with Savanna Release

The cloud-native platform includes REST APIs, web data services and a blockchain trace engine.

Jeffrey Schwartz

June 5, 2019

4 Min Read
Software Box

Zebra Technologies on Tuesday took a key step that will enable its partners to deliver modern cloud-native applications on its broad portfolio of vertical-industry-focused handheld client devices, tablets and mobile computers.

The company rolled out its Savanna Data Services at its Europe AppForum 2019 conference in Warsaw. Savanna is a software platform consisting of modern web-based REST APIs that will accelerate data aggregation and enable real-time analytics processing on its mobile computing devices. The software and APIs will support what Zebra describes as “intelligent edge device data” and third-party data services.


Zebra’s James Pemberton

“Savanna is a data and analytics platform that allows us to give our software partners access to data sources, through APIs, which will reduce their development cycles and yet allow them to enrich their solutions,” James Pemberton, director of global ISV and developer strategy, told Channel Futures during a recent interview.

“The ISV channel actually becomes a new route to market with the Savanna platform, as opposed to the current business model where partners sell their software to a customer, and then need hardware on the tail end of it,” he added. The new route to market also introduces a new pricing model for customers and compensation for partners that’s either based on usage, a monthly fee or custom software licensing agreements.

Underlying Savanna is a modern development platform and web-based portal with tools that will allow ISVs and other partners to modernize legacy applications and build modern digital solutions to run on Zebra devices. Zebra’s mobile client computers, industrial scanners and printers are widely used in vertical industries such as in-store retail operations, health care delivery, manufacturing and travel, among others with formidable supply chains.

To help build on those intelligent-edge device capabilities, Zebra this week completed the acquisition of Profitect, a company that provides prescriptive analytics to companies in the retail and consumer packaged goods industries.

Zebra is positioning Savanna as a platform that will allow partners to help customers digitally transform their processes. It allows Zebra’s client hardware to invoke API calls with interfaces to a broad variety of data systems.


Forrester’s Michele Pelino

Savanna will broaden the capabilities of Zebra devices by providing analytics and triggering actionable events on them, said Michele Pelino an analyst at Forrester Research, who noted that connecting to vertical industry data services is particularly a challenge that Savanna promises to address.

“In the different vertical sectors, you have fragmented connectivity and so the platform has to account for that,” she said. “Those APIs help connect those devices and capture data in a much more useful way.”

Pelino added that Zebra appears to have gotten out in front of moving in this direction more than most traditional device makers today.

“They’ve been more proactive in a sense of evolving this vision, more than some of the other players, but other players are making headway as well,” she said.

Zebra also offers a blockchain authentication and traceability engine with Savanna’s Hyperledger Fabric and access to third-party blockchain ledgers, which will help partners deliver supply-chain solutions that can be protected against counterfeiting and other forms of fraud.

“If you bring in blockchain and you have tracked that item all along the way, you could actually understand that a returned good is not counterfeit,” said Drew Ehlers, global director of portfolio marketing in Zebra’s office of the CTO.

Savanna uses Google’s Apigee API management gateway to connect …

… the different interfaces and track transactions for billing, Ehlers said. In addition to providing a modern API calls from its devices, Savanna will let Zebra’s ISV partners process triggers and events such as barcode scanning, data capture from sensors, and auto-identification technology such as RFID faster using web service APIs.

Ehlers outlined the three monetization options that come with Savanna.

“On the application layer, we really want our ISVs and developers to own that layer, he said. “When it comes to Savanna Data Services. we really look at this as a portfolio of ingredients to solve problems and innovate. And that could either be within current applications or net-new applications where they’re developing from that perspective.”

Overall, there are three tiers to Savanna’s revenue model, he said. One is consumption, where partners are compensated for each API call made by a device. Second is on a per-device, monthly rate, and third would be on a custom enterprise license agreement. Zebra offers eligible partners devices to create pilot applications and offers the first 100 API calls at no charge.

About 10 partners have engaged with Zebra to roll out pilots over the past 18 months. Among them are Arrowhead, Doddle, Ivanti, Reflexions, Qodenext, Problem Solutions and StayLinked.

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About the Author(s)

Jeffrey Schwartz

Jeffrey Schwartz has covered the IT industry for nearly three decades, most recently as editor-in-chief of Redmond magazine and executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner. Prior to that, he held various editing and writing roles at CommunicationsWeek, InternetWeek and VARBusiness (now CRN) magazines, among other publications.

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