Welcome!

Microsoft Cloud Authors: David Bermingham, Yung Chou, Dana Gardner, Jayaram Krishnaswamy, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: Mobile IoT, Microservices Expo, Agile Computing, @CloudExpo

Mobile IoT: Article

Democratizing Enterprise Mobility

Introducing the Enterprise Mobile Platform as a Service

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 Challenges
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.

Conclusion
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.

More Stories By Jesus Rodriguez

Jesus Rodriguez is a co-founder and CEO of KidoZen, an enterprise mobile-first platform as a service redefining the future of enterprise mobile solutions. He is also the co-founder to Tellago, an award-winning professional services firm focused on big enterprise software trends. Under his leadership, KidoZen and Tellago have been recognized as an innovator in the areas of enterprise software and solutions achieving important awards like the Inc 500, Stevie Awards’ American and International Business Awards.

A software scientist by background, Jesus is an internationally recognized speaker and author with contributions that include hundreds of articles and sessions at industry conferences. He serves as an advisor to several software companies such as Microsoft and Oracle, sits at the board of different technology companies. Jesus is a prolific blogger on all subjects related to software technology and entrepreneurship. You can gain valuable insight on business and software technology through his blogs at http://jrodthoughts.com and http://weblogs.asp.net/gsusx .

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
Silver Spring Networks, Inc. (NYSE: SSNI) extended its Internet of Things technology platform with performance enhancements to Gen5 – its fifth generation critical infrastructure networking platform. Already delivering nearly 23 million devices on five continents as one of the leading networking providers in the market, Silver Spring announced it is doubling the maximum speed of its Gen5 network to up to 2.4 Mbps, increasing computational performance by 10x, supporting simultaneous mesh communic...
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, will provide an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data profes...
Eighty percent of a data scientist’s time is spent gathering and cleaning up data, and 80% of all data is unstructured and almost never analyzed. Cognitive computing, in combination with Big Data, is changing the equation by creating data reservoirs and using natural language processing to enable analysis of unstructured data sources. This is impacting every aspect of the analytics profession from how data is mined (and by whom) to how it is delivered. This is not some futuristic vision: it's ha...
With the Apple Watch making its way onto wrists all over the world, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a staple in the workplace. In fact, Forrester reported that 68 percent of technology and business decision-makers characterize wearables as a top priority for 2015. Recognizing their business value early on, FinancialForce.com was the first to bring ERP to wearables, helping streamline communication across front and back office functions. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kevin Roberts...
Cognitive Computing is becoming the foundation for a new generation of solutions that have the potential to transform business. Unlike traditional approaches to building solutions, a cognitive computing approach allows the data to help determine the way applications are designed. This contrasts with conventional software development that begins with defining logic based on the current way a business operates. In her session at 18th Cloud Expo, Judith S. Hurwitz, President and CEO of Hurwitz & ...
One of the bewildering things about DevOps is integrating the massive toolchain including the dozens of new tools that seem to crop up every year. Part of DevOps is Continuous Delivery and having a complex toolchain can add additional integration and setup to your developer environment. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, Miko Matsumura, Chief Marketing Officer of Gradle Inc., will discuss which tools to use in a developer stack, how to provision the toolchain to minimize onboa...
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, will discuss the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filte...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pythian, a global IT services company specializing in helping companies adopt disruptive technologies to optimize revenue-generating systems, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Founded in 1997, Pythian is a global IT services company that helps companies compete by adopting disruptive technologies such as cloud, Big Data, advanced analytics, and DevO...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Avere Systems, a leading provider of enterprise storage for the hybrid cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Avere delivers a more modern architectural approach to storage that doesn’t require the overprovisioning of storage capacity to achieve performance, overspending on expensive storage media for inactive data or the overbuilding of data centers ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
The Quantified Economy represents the total global addressable market (TAM) for IoT that, according to a recent IDC report, will grow to an unprecedented $1.3 trillion by 2019. With this the third wave of the Internet-global proliferation of connected devices, appliances and sensors is poised to take off in 2016. In his session at @ThingsExpo, David McLauchlan, CEO and co-founder of Buddy Platform, will discuss how the ability to access and analyze the massive volume of streaming data from mil...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 ad...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Men & Mice, the leading global provider of DNS, DHCP and IP address management overlay solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The Men & Mice Suite overlay solution is already known for its powerful application in heterogeneous operating environments, enabling enterprises to scale without fuss. Building on a solid range of diverse platform support,...
WebSocket is effectively a persistent and fat pipe that is compatible with a standard web infrastructure; a "TCP for the Web." If you think of WebSocket in this light, there are other more hugely interesting applications of WebSocket than just simply sending data to a browser. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Frank Greco, Director of Technology for Kaazing Corporation, will compare other modern web connectivity methods such as HTTP/2, HTTP Streaming, Server-Sent Events and new W3C event APIs ...
Fortunately, meaningful and tangible business cases for IoT are plentiful in a broad array of industries and vertical markets. These range from simple warranty cost reduction for capital intensive assets, to minimizing downtime for vital business tools, to creating feedback loops improving product design, to improving and enhancing enterprise customer experiences. All of these business cases, which will be briefly explored in this session, hinge on cost effectively extracting relevant data from ...
There will be new vendors providing applications, middleware, and connected devices to support the thriving IoT ecosystem. This essentially means that electronic device manufacturers will also be in the software business. Many will be new to building embedded software or robust software. This creates an increased importance on software quality, particularly within the Industrial Internet of Things where business-critical applications are becoming dependent on products controlled by software. Qua...
SYS-CON Events announced today that iDevices®, the preeminent brand in the connected home industry, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. iDevices, the preeminent brand in the connected home industry, has a growing line of HomeKit-enabled products available at the largest retailers worldwide. Through the “Designed with iDevices” co-development program and its custom-built IoT Cloud Infrastruc...
Companies can harness IoT and predictive analytics to sustain business continuity; predict and manage site performance during emergencies; minimize expensive reactive maintenance; and forecast equipment and maintenance budgets and expenditures. Providing cost-effective, uninterrupted service is challenging, particularly for organizations with geographically dispersed operations.
Join us at Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo 2016 – June 7-9 at the Javits Center in New York City and November 1-3 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – and deliver your unique message in a way that is striking and unforgettable by taking advantage of SYS-CON's unmatched high-impact, result-driven event / media packages.