|By Jesus Rodriguez||
|June 25, 2012 06:00 AM EDT||
For the last two years, enterprise mobility has had a high place on the technology agenda of most companies. However, the mobile enterprise remains a highly complex and expensive endeavor that can only be afforded by a small group of organizations. Even more importantly, the enterprise mobility stacks are technologically archaic compared to the equivalent consumer market technology which is causing companies to start embracing open, consumer-based technologies as part of the enterprise mobile applications.
If you agree that connected devices are becoming a predominant force in the enterprise, then you can also agree that the industry is in desperate need for technologies that provide simple, open and yet robust mechanisms to develop enterprise applications that can run on these devices.
Mobile Enterprise Is About the Back End not the Front End
Looking at the current enterprise mobility technology ecosystem, we can quickly notice a heavy emphasis on development tools and technologies that allow developers to build applications that can run on a diverse number of devices. While that type of technologies is certainly welcome, this is far from being a problem in the enterprise. The market is full of mobile frontend technologies that support multi-device applications which are very viable solutions in an enterprise environment. PhoneGap, AppAccelerator's Titanium, Xamarin's Monotouch and Mono for Android, Sencha Touch are just some of the examples of technologies that enable a cross-device experience and, what is more important, provide a far superior experience than the equivalent SAP, IBM or Antenna software technologies.
Based on the rapid evolution of the mobile technology landscape, enterprise developers have a very broad spectrum of technology options when it comes to implementing mobile client frontend interfaces. The challenge, however, remains in the backend infrastructure. Aspects such as security, identity management, storage, messaging, media exchange, and content management are among many some of the most important backend capabilities that are required by most enterprise mobile applications. Enabling these and many other backend features represent, by enlarge, the most important challenge in the current spectrum of enterprise mobile applications.
When designing an enterprise mobility strategy, the emphasis should not be on the client development technologies and tools and, instead, it should be focused on the backend services and management experience to enable enterprise-ready mobile applications.
Anatomy of an Enterprise Mobile Platform in 2012
Looking at the current enterprise mobility market, we can find a group of "platforms" that can serve as the foundation of an enterprise mobile infrastructure. Sadly, all these technologies look incredibly similar and mysteriously resemble the models pioneered by Research in Motion a few years ago. Without exception, the current generation of enterprise mobility platforms provides a series of components that compose the complete mobile application lifecycle from development to operational management. The following figure depicts the fundamental elements of a mobile enterprise platform in the current market.
As illustrated in the above figure, the DNA of a traditional enterprise mobile platform is based on the following components.
- Cross Platform Mobile Application Development Tool: This component of an enterprise mobility platform enables a developer to implement mobile applications that can be deployed to multiple devices.
- Mobile Application Server: Traditional enterprise mobility platforms include a server side infrastructure that serves as the fundamental gateway to abstract the interaction between mobile applications and the datacenter infrastructure.
- Mobile Line of Business Adapters: Some enterprise mobility platforms include out of the box connectors to traditional line of business systems such as ERP or CRM applications. These components intend to streamline the integration of these platforms into enterprise mobile applications
- Mobile Application Manager: Every enterprise mobility platform provides a component to manage and monitor the different applications running in the mobile application server.
- Mobile Device Manager: Device management has been a traditional component of traditional enterprise mobility platforms since the early years. This component is typically responsible for managing the mobile devices running specific enterprise applications.
The components listed above represent the foundation of the current ecosystem of enterprise mobility platforms. Some of the characteristics of these components combined with the constraints of an on-premise delivery model introduce a series of challenges for organizations when embracing these platforms as the core of an enterprise mobility infrastructure.
The technical complexity and expensive delivery model of traditional enterprise mobile platforms combined with the novel and rapid evolving nature of mobile technologies makes enterprise mobility a really challenging experience for most organizations. Without getting into the specifics of any particular technology, we can refer to a number of challenges that are common across most enterprise mobile platforms.
- High learning curve: By not relying on popular and open technologies, traditional enterprise mobility platforms require that most companies train their developers and IT professionals in the usage of the proprietary development tools and frameworks required by the platform.
- On-premise infrastructure: Most enterprise mobility platforms require expensive on-premise infrastructures in order to host and manage the applications developed on the platform.
- Lack of developer community: The closed nature of traditional enterprise mobile platforms has impeded the growth of developer communities around these technologies. This fact has reflected in a lack of tools, frameworks and even accessible talent around those platforms which directly translates into high implementation and maintenance costs for most companies.
- Technology debt: The rapid evolution of mobile development technologies has made it impossible for most enterprise mobile platforms to keep up with the latest mobile trends. To cite an example, it took nearly a year after HTML5 became one of the most popular mechanisms for the implementation of mobile application before any of the major enterprise mobility platforms announced the native support for HTML5 applications.
- Professional services: The complexity and lack of developer communities for most enterprise mobility frequently platforms requires the use of professional services when implementing solutions on these platforms.
The aforementioned challenges are just some the roadblocks encountered by organizations when implementing enterprise mobility solutions based on traditional platforms. Given the growing importance of connected devices, the industry is in a desperate need of simpler, open, rapidly growing platforms that can help to democratize the enterprise mobility ecosystem.
The Time for an Enterprise Mobile Platform as a Service
As mentioned in the previous section, the current technology models for enterprise mobility has proven to be highly inefficient to address the challenges in this rapidly growing space. As an alternative, we need new enterprise mobile technologies that embrace modern computing paradigms and a simple delivery model that enables organizations to easily embrace enterprise mobility initiatives. In a nutshell, here are some of the primary elements we believe a modern enterprise mobility platform should provide:
- Freedom of tools and frameworks: A modern enterprise mobility platform should enable developers to use their favorite development tools and frameworks when it comes to implementing mobile applications.
- Open and simple to use backend capabilities: Forget the frontend capabilities, a modern enterprise mobile platform should enable open, service-enabled and simple to use backend features that allow developers to build enterprise-ready mobile applications.
- Cloud based delivery model: The on-premise model in enterprise mobile platforms have proven to be highly inefficient and cost prohibitive for most organizations. As an alternative, a modern enterprise mobility platform should leverage cloud computing as the fundamental mechanism to enable the backend and management capabilities of the platform.
- Managed mobile web hosting and provisioning capabilities: As HTML5 and mobile web techniques become increasingly important in enterprise mobile applications, the ability of hosting, provisioning and managing mobile web applications should be a key component of the next generation enterprise mobile platforms.
- Elastic and scalable computing model: While is true that user behavior is more predictable in enterprise mobile applications compared to consumer applications, the sole nature of mobile applications demands an elastically scalable hosting model in which infrastructure can be dynamically allocated based on user demands.
- Open, Open, Open: Finally, a modern enterprise mobility platform must be open enough to nurture a developer community around it and to keep up with the rapid evolution of mobile technologies.
An almost axiomatic truth in software development is the fact that most software platforms are just a realignment of well-established computing paradigms. In that sense, we should look for well-established software models that can enable the next generation of enterprise mobile platforms. We can quickly find the answer in one of the fastest growing technology movements of the last few years: Platform as a Service (PaaS)
A Platform as a Service for Enterprise Mobile Applications
At a high level, an enterprise mobile platform as a service is a cloud platform that provides elements of the enterprise mobile application development lifecycle as multi-tenant services. Specifically, an enterprise mobile application provides enterprise-ready backend capabilities as cloud services and it facilitates the hosting, provisioning and management of mobile applications that use those services. As other technology movements, an enterprise mobile platform as a service can be seen as a combination of existing technology movements such as mobile Backend as a Service (BaaS), mobile enterprise application stores, and a few other emerging areas in mobile technologies.
Expanding beyond the conceptual level, we think of the first generation of enterprise mobile PaaS as three fundamental components: a series of enterprise cloud APIs, a mobile enterprise application store and an environment to deploy, provision and manage enterprise mobile applications. The following figure illustrates this concept.
One of the most important aspects of an enterprise mobile platform is its application centric nature. Different from traditional platform as a service model, the application is the center of the enterprise mobile PaaS model and resources and services are provisioned and managed within the context of an application. The following figure illustrates that concept:
In addition to its numerous advantages from the technology standpoint, an enterprise mobile PaaS embraces the commercial SaaS model in which customers pay a subscription fee based on the usage of the platform. These models allow organizations to start relatively small and scale organically their enterprise mobility initiatives. Also, the cloud delivery model of the enterprise mobile cloud APIs allows organizations to immediately take advantage of new services as soon as they become available in the platform.
Even though it is not a key characteristic of the model, it is very important to highlight the tool agnostic nature of Enterprise Mobile Platform as a Service. Different from traditional enterprise mobile platforms in which development tools are at the center of the stack, an Enterprise Mobile PaaS focuses on the backend, hosting, provisioning and management aspects of enterprise mobile applications and delivers those in a model that can be used from any development tool or framework. To make the experience even simpler, Enterprise Mobile PaaS typically include SDKs for some of the major mobile platforms.
The Inevitability of the Enterprise Mobile PaaS
Based on some of the arguments expressed in the previous section, we can easily conclude that Enterprise Mobile PaaS are an inevitable evolution of the existing unsustainable enterprise mobility models. At a high level, Enterprise Mobile PaaS offers significant advantages over traditional models:
- Tool agnostic: Different from traditional enterprise mobile platforms, Enterprise Mobile PaaS allow organizations to build enterprise mobile applications using their favorite tools and frameworks.
- No on-premise setup: Enterprise Mobile PaaS are delivered as a cloud based solution that requires no on-premise infrastructure.
- No learning curve: The open nature of Enterprise Mobile PaaS makes it accessible to any developer with basic knowledge of mobile platforms.
- Continuous upgrades: Like any good cloud citizen, Enterprise Mobile PaaS make the continuous release of new and upgraded features a key element of the platform.
- Elastically scalable: An Enterprise Mobile PaaS allows organizations to scale organically based on the user demand of their enterprise mobile applications.
- Cost: The pay as you go model of Enterprise Mobile PaaS allows organizations to quickly ramp up and organically scale enterprise mobility initiatives without incurring major costs.
Finally and more importantly, the Enterprise Mobile PaaS represents the only model in which organizations can practically keep up with the fast evolving pace of the mobile technology world without sacrificing the policies of enterprise applications.
Enterprise Mobile Platform as a Service represents the natural evolution of enterprise mobility platforms. Traditional enterprise mobility platforms have proven to be highly inefficient, hard to scale, slow to evolve models that impose a high technologically and financial cost to most organizations. An Enterprise Mobile PaaS combines emerging technology models such as mobile Backend as a Service with creative application delivery models like application stores to simplify and democratize enterprise mobility.
Microservices are a very exciting architectural approach that many organizations are looking to as a way to accelerate innovation. Microservices promise to allow teams to move away from monolithic "ball of mud" systems, but the reality is that, in the vast majority of organizations, different projects and technologies will continue to be developed at different speeds. How to handle the dependencies between these disparate systems with different iteration cycles? Consider the "canoncial problem" in this scenario: microservice A (releases daily) depends on a couple of additions to backend B (re...
Dec. 1, 2015 09:00 AM EST Reads: 481
Container technology is shaping the future of DevOps and it’s also changing the way organizations think about application development. With the rise of mobile applications in the enterprise, businesses are abandoning year-long development cycles and embracing technologies that enable rapid development and continuous deployment of apps. In his session at DevOps Summit, Kurt Collins, Developer Evangelist at Built.io, examined how Docker has evolved into a highly effective tool for application delivery by allowing increasingly popular Mobile Backend-as-a-Service (mBaaS) platforms to quickly crea...
Dec. 1, 2015 08:00 AM EST Reads: 396
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
Dec. 1, 2015 08:00 AM EST Reads: 395
We all know that data growth is exploding and storage budgets are shrinking. Instead of showing you charts on about how much data there is, in his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing at HGST, showed how to capture all of your data in one place. After you have your data under control, you can then analyze it in one place, saving time and resources.
Dec. 1, 2015 08:00 AM EST Reads: 251
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound effect on the world, and what should we expect to see over the next couple of years.
Dec. 1, 2015 06:30 AM EST Reads: 515
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, wil...
Dec. 1, 2015 05:00 AM EST Reads: 620
PubNub has announced the release of BLOCKS, a set of customizable microservices that give developers a simple way to add code and deploy features for realtime apps.PubNub BLOCKS executes business logic directly on the data streaming through PubNub’s network without splitting it off to an intermediary server controlled by the customer. This revolutionary approach streamlines app development, reduces endpoint-to-endpoint latency, and allows apps to better leverage the enormous scalability of PubNub’s Data Stream Network.
Dec. 1, 2015 05:00 AM EST Reads: 359
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Ben Perlmutter, a Sales Engineer with IBM Cloudant, demonstrated techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, faster user experience, both offline and online. The focus of this talk was on IBM Cloudant, Apache CouchDB, and ...
Dec. 1, 2015 04:45 AM EST Reads: 458
Cloud computing delivers on-demand resources that provide businesses with flexibility and cost-savings. The challenge in moving workloads to the cloud has been the cost and complexity of ensuring the initial and ongoing security and regulatory (PCI, HIPAA, FFIEC) compliance across private and public clouds. Manual security compliance is slow, prone to human error, and represents over 50% of the cost of managing cloud applications. Determining how to automate cloud security compliance is critical to maintaining positive ROI. Raxak Protect is an automated security compliance SaaS platform and ma...
Dec. 1, 2015 03:00 AM EST Reads: 469
I recently attended and was a speaker at the 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center. I also had the opportunity to attend this event last year and I wrote a blog from that show talking about how the “Enterprise Impact of IoT” was a key theme of last year’s show. I was curious to see if the same theme would still resonate 365 days later and what, if any, changes I would see in the content presented.
Dec. 1, 2015 03:00 AM EST Reads: 470
Most of the IoT Gateway scenarios involve collecting data from machines/processing and pushing data upstream to cloud for further analytics. The gateway hardware varies from Raspberry Pi to Industrial PCs. The document states the process of allowing deploying polyglot data pipelining software with the clear notion of supporting immutability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Shashank Jain, a development architect for SAP Labs, discussed the objective, which is to automate the IoT deployment process from development to production scenarios using Docker containers.
Dec. 1, 2015 01:15 AM EST Reads: 127
Countless business models have spawned from the IaaS industry – resell Web hosting, blogs, public cloud, and on and on. With the overwhelming amount of tools available to us, it's sometimes easy to overlook that many of them are just new skins of resources we've had for a long time. In his general session at 17th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, an IBM Company, broke down what we have to work with, discussed the benefits and pitfalls and how we can best use them to design hosted applications.
Nov. 30, 2015 03:45 PM EST Reads: 116
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....
Nov. 30, 2015 03:00 PM EST Reads: 497
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
Nov. 30, 2015 02:00 PM EST Reads: 375
DevOps is about increasing efficiency, but nothing is more inefficient than building the same application twice. However, this is a routine occurrence with enterprise applications that need both a rich desktop web interface and strong mobile support. With recent technological advances from Isomorphic Software and others, rich desktop and tuned mobile experiences can now be created with a single codebase – without compromising functionality, performance or usability. In his session at DevOps Summit, Charles Kendrick, CTO and Chief Architect at Isomorphic Software, demonstrated examples of com...
Nov. 30, 2015 01:45 PM EST Reads: 439
As organizations realize the scope of the Internet of Things, gaining key insights from Big Data, through the use of advanced analytics, becomes crucial. However, IoT also creates the need for petabyte scale storage of data from millions of devices. A new type of Storage is required which seamlessly integrates robust data analytics with massive scale. These storage systems will act as “smart systems” provide in-place analytics that speed discovery and enable businesses to quickly derive meaningful and actionable insights. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Paul Turner, Chief Marketing Officer at...
Nov. 30, 2015 01:45 PM EST Reads: 442
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
Nov. 30, 2015 01:00 PM EST Reads: 542
In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Campaign, explored the key ingredients of cross-channel marketing in a digital world. Learn how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects).
Nov. 30, 2015 12:45 PM EST Reads: 347
The Internet of Everything is re-shaping technology trends–moving away from “request/response” architecture to an “always-on” Streaming Web where data is in constant motion and secure, reliable communication is an absolute necessity. As more and more THINGS go online, the challenges that developers will need to address will only increase exponentially. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Todd Greene, Founder & CEO of PubNub, exploreed the current state of IoT connectivity and review key trends and technology requirements that will drive the Internet of Things from hype to reality.
Nov. 30, 2015 10:45 AM EST Reads: 469
Two weeks ago (November 3-5), I attended the Cloud Expo Silicon Valley as a speaker, where I presented on the security and privacy due diligence requirements for cloud solutions. Cloud security is a topical issue for every CIO, CISO, and technology buyer. Decision-makers are always looking for insights on how to mitigate the security risks of implementing and using cloud solutions. Based on the presentation topics covered at the conference, as well as the general discussions heard between sessions, I wanted to share some of my observations on emerging trends. As cyber security serves as a fou...
Nov. 30, 2015 10:30 AM EST Reads: 361