Welcome!

GovIT Authors: Carmen Gonzalez, Lori MacVittie, Bob Gourley, Yeshim Deniz, Kevin Jackson

Related Topics: SOA & WOA

SOA & WOA: Article

Corporate Applications on a Mobile Device Near You

Web services as the lingua franca of the mobile enterprise

In the enterprise building mobile applications is as much about integration and the corresponding challenges as it is about pure application development.

Recent industry reports reveal that more than 70% of mission-critical data and most of the pivotal business logic that runs worldwide commerce still resides on existing host systems. Based on this dependency, as well as their speed and power, host systems are unquestionably here to stay for most large organizations and will continue to be a foundation for business success as organizations design and implement new business initiatives.

However, many of those same organizations have also invested in packaged applications (SAP, Siebel, Oracle Applications, PeopleSoft, etc.) to manage their businesses. When building mobile solutions that leverage these systems, enterprise developers want to use the existing business logic of these applications (to ensure data integrity, security, etc.) and not have to recreate this logic in new systems.

For many organizations a mobile enterprise solution will need to expose business functions from numerous core business systems in a single, seamless, easy-to-use interface, delivering real business value.

That core business functionality is housed on multiple platforms, including structured data such as databases and unstructured data such as host, ERP, CRM applications and middleware. Without a comprehensive mobile platform with built-in connectivity to these core systems, delivering mobile solutions becomes very difficult.

Therefore, in the enterprise, mobile applications are an extension of the company's existing systems and processes and are very rarely standalone applications in their own right. They are about allowing a mobile workforce to have real-time and continuous access to corporate business processes and information.

Many mobile enterprise applications require real-time access to multiple existing business systems. For example, to provide the sales team with a complete view of the customer, the mobile application might need to interact with the corporate SAP system for sales information, the Siebel system for customer care issues and the mainframe for customer records. To be practical, (limited real estate, data bandwidth, etc.) the mobile enterprise solution should only provide the specific data required for the task and not try to be general-purpose.

As such, mobile integration follows the same principles and tenets as any other integration issue in the corporation. Today's guiding principle for integration is Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and its major delivery mechanisms XML and Web Services. SOA promises to decouple the end devices and their operating environments from the integration of mobile services with corporate applications. The adoption of XML and Web Services will help this come about.

Today, the consensus supports the adoption of mobile middleware. It's clear that off-the-shelf integrated application adapters combined with the capability to define and coordinate transactions across multiple back-end corporate applications (with process management) is the recipe for delivering corporate business processes and applications to mobile devices.

Mobile Computing
The spike in laptop, notebook, and tablet-type devices over the last few years underscores the demand for information that travels with people as they move around. These devices have become essential tools for many different types of mobile workers, from sales people to service technicians, who need to access and enter data electronically.

In recent years, the market for small handheld computers such as Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) has grown rapidly and trends are pointing toward exploiting mobile technology even more. Research shows that while laptops are still the mobile device of companies, smaller handheld devices are being used to deliver mobile e-mail to field personnel. The RIM Blackberry has been at the forefront of this new age of mobile communication, but other vendors are able to deliver mobile e-mail on other handheld devices such as those using the Microsoft Windows Mobile and Symbian platforms. In addition, many employees have purchased handheld devices and are looking to leverage these devices in their business lives. Many companies now face the challenge of coming up with a strategy that turns PDAs into useful productivity and communications devices. These companies face an equal challenge due to the rapid evolution of PDA technology - much faster than conventional PCs and laptops.

Nowadays most of these devices come loaded with more than one wireless option for data communications including Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, General Packet Radio Service (GPRS), and other 3G network technologies such as EDGE. All of these devices come with browser support, which in most cases, goes beyond support for Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) to support standard HTML-based Web sites. Most of these modern devices also support development frameworks, such as J2ME and the Microsoft .NET Compact Framework, which creates new opportunities to develop solutions beyond mobile e-mail. With this, the availability of literally thousands of Wi-Fi hotspots has meant that a combination of 3G GPRS and Wi-Fi can realistically be used to deliver the mobile infrastructure needed by the enterprise.

The real opportunity for companies is to move beyond mobile e-mail and begin to leverage the millions of mobile devices already in the hands of salespeople, service representatives, and customers, delivering corporate information directly to the point where it's needed.

The Mobile Internet - Reality versus Hype
In the past the media - with plenty of eager help from overzealous marketing campaigns - has generated a massive amount of hyperbole about the potential of the mobile Internet. By confusing "Internet-capable" with "can do everything that the wired Internet can do," the mobile Internet has been over-sold. Many companies' inflated expectations have been dashed by the realities of yesterday's first-generation implementation of the mobile Internet.

If we look back to the year 2000, it was estimated that by 2004 the number of Internet-capable cell phones being shipped and used would outstrip - by a large margin - those that didn't have a data communications capability. That milestone was reached in half the time.

According to Forrester Research in 2005 mobile networks covered 80% of the world's population, which means that more than five billion people are within range of a cellular network. And a quarter of the world's population - some one-and-a-half billion people - use mobile services. In addition, 78% of those users are connected to GSM networks, with the greatest penetration of mobile use in Europe followed by the United States.

IDC has estimated that more than 55 million mobile devices were sold in 2005, a boost of 165% over 2004. In other surveys IDC has said that approximately 40% of these devices will possibly require middleware in an enterprise environment. It's estimated that there are tens of millions of phones capable of running J2ME applications - all of which can integrate with the enterprise through their HTTP and Web capabilities.

Gartner, the research company, estimates that mobile terminal sales is likely to reach 848 million by 2008. Gartner also estimate that in the third quarter of 2005 shipments of Smartphones exceeded 12 million units. World Smartphone shipments surpassed those of PDAs for the first time in 3Q04 by 1.2 million units, and in 3Q05 this gap widened to nine million units.

Lessons Learned
Mobile Internet pioneers have learned some important lessons:

  1. The mobile Internet is not suitable for all of the same applications you find on the wired Internet. The key is choosing applications that fit in the screen space and speed constraints of today's mobile devices. Applications that provide on-the-spot order entry, sales force automation, customer lookups, and equipment service are all excellent candidates for mobile Internet use.
  2. Mobile Internet technology, at all levels, is moving very fast - handsets, network speeds, interoperability standards, and protocols are all evolving rapidly. Mobile phone manufacturers, network infrastructure players, and mobile network providers are investing massive amounts of resources in developing and deploying the next-generation networks. Today's devices have bigger full-color screens as well as faster networks that enable even more types of applications and services to go mobile.
  3. Mobile network technology is not a North American technology, or European, or is it GSM-specific or tied to any transport network or technology. Mobile applications mask all the local differences and enable worldwide deployment of mobile applications using virtually any handset and wireless network.
Many corporations have started to deploy mobile applications to small projects and a substantial number in experimental or pilot stages. The types of mobile applications being deployed range from packaged mobile applications, used to deliver solutions for specific groups (such a field service), to custom mobile applications where they need access to multiple corporate systems in a singe solution.

When it comes to the benefits of mobile technology in the enterprise, most companies cite better employee productivity as the major gain, with the advantages of real-time access to corporate information a close second. The more information people have at their disposal, the better decisions they will make.

Forrester defined mobile enterprise technology as a set of technologies - including networks, infrastructure, and portable devices - that enable employees and systems to use applications in a mobile environment. Key deliverables from mobile-enabling corporate applications include a boost in customer service, an increase in productivity, and a reduction in costs.

The concept of multi-channel and multi-modal applications means that corporate applications should inherently be able to support access from any device. Of course, in reality this is not the case and won't be for quite some while. In the meantime, mobile application middleware will deliver solutions that allow both legacy custom-developed applications and contemporary packaged applications to be accessed from handheld devices from a multiplicity of vendors. Obviously, any mobile middleware solution should have built-in support for as many enterprise applications, old and new, as possible.

Back in 2004 Gartner said that companies should plan for a widening range of mobile application platforms to become available. It advised companies to plan on mobile applications becoming a strategic part of their IT portfolio and not just tactical solutions.


More Stories By Roy Mitchell

Roy Mitchell is a senior product manager at NetManage (www.netmanage.com), a software company that provides solutions for accessing, Web enabling, and integrating enterprise information systems. Roy has more than 10 years of product management experience in enterprise software solutions.

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
Things are being built upon cloud foundations to transform organizations. This CEO Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Roger Strukhoff, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo conference chair, will address the big issues involving these technologies and, more important, the results they will achieve. How important are public, private, and hybrid cloud to the enterprise? How does one define Big Data? And how is the IoT tying all this together?
We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core of our infrastructures. At the same time, we have old approaches made new again like micro-services...
The only place to be June 9-11 is Cloud Expo & @ThingsExpo 2015 East at the Javits Center in New York City. Join us there as delegates from all over the world come to listen to and engage with speakers & sponsors from the leading Cloud Computing, IoT & Big Data companies. Cloud Expo & @ThingsExpo are the leading events covering the booming market of Cloud Computing, IoT & Big Data for the enterprise. Speakers from all over the world will be hand-picked for their ability to explore the economic strategies that utility/cloud computing provides. Whether public, private, or in a hybrid form, clo...
SYS-CON Events announces a new pavilion on the Cloud Expo floor where WebRTC converges with the Internet of Things. Pavilion will showcase WebRTC and the Internet of Things. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices--computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors – connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in software-defined storage (SDS) purpose-built for Windows Servers and Hyper-V, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Gridstore™ is the leader in software-defined storage purpose built for virtualization that is designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Using its patented Server-Side Virtual Controller™ Technology (SVCT) to eliminate the I/O blender effect and accelerate applications Gridsto...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Red Hat, the world's leading provider of open source solutions, will exhibit at Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Red Hat is the world's leading provider of open source software solutions, using a community-powered approach to reliable and high-performing cloud, Linux, middleware, storage and virtualization technologies. Red Hat also offers award-winning support, training, and consulting services. As the connective hub in a global network of enterprises, partners, a...
As the Internet of Things unfolds, mobile and wearable devices are blurring the line between physical and digital, integrating ever more closely with our interests, our routines, our daily lives. Contextual computing and smart, sensor-equipped spaces bring the potential to walk through a world that recognizes us and responds accordingly. We become continuous transmitters and receivers of data. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Andrew Bolwell, Director of Innovation for HP’s Printing and Personal Systems Group, will discuss how key attributes of mobile technology – touch input, senso...
The Internet of Things (IoT) is making everything it touches smarter – smart devices, smart cars and smart cities. And lucky us, we’re just beginning to reap the benefits as we work toward a networked society. However, this technology-driven innovation is impacting more than just individuals. The IoT has an environmental impact as well, which brings us to the theme of this month’s #IoTuesday Twitter chat. The ability to remove inefficiencies through connected objects is driving change throughout every sector, including waste management. BigBelly Solar, located just outside of Boston, is trans...
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, will examine three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics...
Internet of @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley announced on Thursday its first 12 all-star speakers and sessions for its upcoming event, which will take place November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in California. @ThingsExpo, the first and largest IoT event in the world, debuted at the Javits Center in New York City in June 10-12, 2014 with over 6,000 delegates attending the conference. Among the first 12 announced world class speakers, IBM will present two highly popular IoT sessions, which will take place November 4-6, 2014 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, Calif...
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to evolve the way the world does business; however, understanding how to apply it to your company can be a mystery. Most people struggle with understanding the potential business uses or tend to get caught up in the technology, resulting in solutions that fail to meet even minimum business goals. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO / President / Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., will show what is needed to leverage the IoT to transform your business. He will discuss opportunities and challenges ahead for the IoT from a market and tec...
SYS-CON Events announced today that TeleStax, the main sponsor of Mobicents, will exhibit at Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TeleStax provides Open Source Communications software and services that facilitate the shift from legacy SS7 based IN networks to IP based LTE and IMS networks hosted on private (on-premise), hybrid or public clouds. TeleStax products include Restcomm, JSLEE, SMSC Gateway, USSD Gateway, SS7 Resource Adaptors, SIP Servlets, Rich Multimedia Services, Presence Services/RCS, Diame...
From a software development perspective IoT is about programming "things," about connecting them with each other or integrating them with existing applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Yakov Fain, co-founder of Farata Systems and SuranceBay, will show you how small IoT-enabled devices from multiple manufacturers can be integrated into the workflow of an enterprise application. This is a practical demo of building a framework and components in HTML/Java/Mobile technologies to serve as a platform that can integrate new devices as they become available on the market.
SYS-CON Events announced today that O'Reilly Media has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. O'Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O'Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying "faint signals" from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. An...
The Transparent Cloud-computing Consortium (abbreviation: T-Cloud Consortium) will conduct research activities into changes in the computing model as a result of collaboration between "device" and "cloud" and the creation of new value and markets through organic data processing High speed and high quality networks, and dramatic improvements in computer processing capabilities, have greatly changed the nature of applications and made the storing and processing of data on the network commonplace.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Aria Systems, the recurring revenue expert, has been named "Bronze Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Aria Systems helps leading businesses connect their customers with the products and services they love. Industry leaders like Pitney Bowes, Experian, AAA NCNU, VMware, HootSuite and many others choose Aria to power their recurring revenue business and deliver exceptional experiences to their customers.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is going to require a new way of thinking and of developing software for speed, security and innovation. This requires IT leaders to balance business as usual while anticipating for the next market and technology trends. Cloud provides the right IT asset portfolio to help today’s IT leaders manage the old and prepare for the new. Today the cloud conversation is evolving from private and public to hybrid. This session will provide use cases and insights to reinforce the value of the network in helping organizations to maximize their company’s cloud experience.
As a disruptive technology, Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC), which is an emerging standard of web communications, is redefining how brands and consumers communicate in real time. The on-going narrative around WebRTC has largely been around incorporating video, audio and chat functions to apps. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Alex Gouaillard, Founder and CTO of Temasys Communications, will look at a fourth element – data channels – and talk about its potential to move WebRTC beyond browsers and into the Internet of Things.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gigaom Research has been named "Media Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, will also lead a Power Panel on the topic "Choosing the Right Cloud Option." Gigaom Research provides timely, in-depth analysis of emerging technologies for individual and corporate subscribers. Gigaom Research's network of 200+ independent analysts provides new content daily that bridges the gap between break...
The Industrial Internet revolution is now underway, enabled by connected machines and billions of devices that communicate and collaborate. The massive amounts of Big Data requiring real-time analysis is flooding legacy IT systems and giving way to cloud environments that can handle the unpredictable workloads. Yet many barriers remain until we can fully realize the opportunities and benefits from the convergence of machines and devices with Big Data and the cloud, including interoperability, data security and privacy.