Welcome!

Microsoft Cloud Authors: Janakiram MSV, Yeshim Deniz, David H Deans, Andreas Grabner, Stackify Blog

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
SYS-CON Events announced today that SourceForge has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SourceForge is the largest, most trusted destination for Open Source Software development, collaboration, discovery and download on the web serving over 32 million viewers, 150 million downloads and over 460,000 active development projects each and every month.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Nihon Micron will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Nihon Micron Co., Ltd. strives for technological innovation to establish high-density, high-precision processing technology for providing printed circuit board and metal mount RFID tags used for communication devices. For more inf...
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities – ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups. As a result, many firms employ new business models that place enormous impor...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MIRAI Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MIRAI Inc. are IT consultants from the public sector whose mission is to solve social issues by technology and innovation and to create a meaningful future for people.
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dasher Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Dasher Technologies, Inc. ® is a premier IT solution provider that delivers expert technical resources along with trusted account executives to architect and deliver complete IT solutions and services to help our clients execute their goals, plans and objectives. Since 1999, we'v...
SYS-CON Events announced today that TidalScale, a leading provider of systems and services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TidalScale has been involved in shaping the computing landscape. They've designed, developed and deployed some of the most important and successful systems and services in the history of the computing industry - internet, Ethernet, operating s...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks, that helps your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. As a premier telecommunications provider, Massive Networks is headquartered out of Louisville, Colorado. With years of experience under their belt, their team of...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM has been named “Diamond Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.
Infoblox delivers Actionable Network Intelligence to enterprise, government, and service provider customers around the world. They are the industry leader in DNS, DHCP, and IP address management, the category known as DDI. We empower thousands of organizations to control and secure their networks from the core-enabling them to increase efficiency and visibility, improve customer service, and meet compliance requirements.
SYS-CON Events announced today that TidalScale will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TidalScale is the leading provider of Software-Defined Servers that bring flexibility to modern data centers by right-sizing servers on the fly to fit any data set or workload. TidalScale’s award-winning inverse hypervisor technology combines multiple commodity servers (including their ass...
As hybrid cloud becomes the de-facto standard mode of operation for most enterprises, new challenges arise on how to efficiently and economically share data across environments. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Dr. Allon Cohen, VP of Product at Elastifile, will explore new techniques and best practices that help enterprise IT benefit from the advantages of hybrid cloud environments by enabling data availability for both legacy enterprise and cloud-native mission critical applications. By rev...
Join IBM November 1 at 21st Cloud Expo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, and learn how IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Cognitive analysis impacts today’s systems with unparalleled ability that were previously available only to manned, back-end operations. Thanks to cloud processing, IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Imagine a robot vacuum that becomes your personal assistant tha...
As popularity of the smart home is growing and continues to go mainstream, technological factors play a greater role. The IoT protocol houses the interoperability battery consumption, security, and configuration of a smart home device, and it can be difficult for companies to choose the right kind for their product. For both DIY and professionally installed smart homes, developers need to consider each of these elements for their product to be successful in the market and current smart homes.
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, will lead you through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He'll look at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that N3N will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. N3N’s solutions increase the effectiveness of operations and control centers, increase the value of IoT investments, and facilitate real-time operational decision making. N3N enables operations teams with a four dimensional digital “big board” that consolidates real-time live video feeds alongside IoT sensor data a...
In a recent survey, Sumo Logic surveyed 1,500 customers who employ cloud services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). According to the survey, a quarter of the respondents have already deployed Docker containers and nearly as many (23 percent) are employing the AWS Lambda serverless computing framework. It’s clear: serverless is here to stay. The adoption does come with some needed changes, within both application development and operations. Tha...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Avere Systems, a leading provider of enterprise storage for the hybrid cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. 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 overbui...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend 21st Cloud Expo October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, CA, and June 12-14, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
SYS-CON Events announced today that mruby Forum will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. mruby is the lightweight implementation of the Ruby language. We introduce mruby and the mruby IoT framework that enhances development productivity. For more information, visit http://forum.mruby.org/.