Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Mobile Enterprise at Pulse 2013: Leverage Smart Devices for More Business Value

The following was originally published on

The strongest reason to attend Pulse 2013 is education. There's simply no better way to bring yourself up to speed on rapidly evolving technologies and the new ways they can solve problems and create business growth.

Consider, for instance, mobile technologies—a group that didn't really exist as recently as fifteen years ago. The swift success of smart phones and tablets with consumers has led to a similarly swift adoption of these platforms for business purposes on an informal, ad hoc basis by the workforce.

But from the standpoint of the enterprise, much better results would come from an implementation that wasn't quite so informal. In the area of security, in particular, there's considerable room for improvement in the way mobile devices access and use business services, many of which involve sensitive or even mission-critical data.

That's why, at Pulse 2013, an entire stream will be dedicated solely to the mobile enterprise—and everything IBM offers, inside and outside of the Tivoli portfolio, that can help organizations get more value from mobile platforms, while also reducing or eliminating many of the attendant risks and costs.

IBM Mobile Foundation: An end-to-end mobile enterprise solution

Want an example? Consider IBM Mobile Foundation (Enterprise Edition): a comprehensive solution for enabling the mobile enterprise that supports cradle-to-grave management of mobile applications.

If you write a general list of the business requirements in this area, you'll find it looks roughly as follows:

  • Creating mobile applications in-house—these should be intuitive, optimized front ends to enterprise services
  • Linking them to services running in back-end architectures such as clouds, while minimizing the time, work, costs, and complexity involved
  • Deploying, managing, and updating both those applications and the mobile platforms where they're stored and executed

What IBM Mobile Foundation offers is a suite of capabilities that addresses all three of these tasks, helping your organization leverage mobile platforms far more securely, efficiently, and cost-effectively as a result.

Let's walk through these three sets of tasks to see how IBM Mobile Foundation accomplishes them.

Create your own applications for mobile devices in an optimized way

If you really want to empower your workforce with effortless access to company services and data, building tailored applications for mobile platforms is a great way to begin. The goal, however, should be to do this in the best possible way.

Ideally, you'd be able to utilize the best of the available development languages, integrated environments, and methodologies to create a unified codebase—then from that codebase, generate applications that would run on every major mobile platform. This is certainly superior to the alternative of creating and maintaining multiple codebases simultaneously.

IBM Worklight checks every box in that list. It supports application coding in HTML/CSS/JavaScript for rapid development, cross-platform compatibility, and a consistent user experience. Development takes place inside an excellent IDE (integrated development environment), Worklight Studio, and each such app can also, thanks to the hybrid model, take advantage of platform-specific strengths.

And because apps can be tested inside any Web browser (instead of on each individual platform), the debug-and-fix stages of development are much faster and easier than usual—meaning quality releases can be created and moved into production with remarkable speed.

Worklight also integrates with IBM's Rational Team Concert, which utilizes Agile methodology to improve application management across the full software development lifecycle. This helps keep development costs low and build quality high, at every point along the way.

Migrate key services to the cloud - then access them via mobile platforms

Another element of IBM Mobile Foundation zeroes in on the back-end (cloud) side of the mobile story. Though cloud computing has taken the world of enterprise IT by storm, there remain a number of tricky issues involved in migrating certain key services into clouds, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) services. Often, they continue to execute in dedicated systems in the IT infrastructure. And since they're not in the cloud, it's more complex and awkward for mobile users to access such services from a smart phone or tablet.

IBM WebSphere Cast Iron helps to solve just this problem. Right out of the box, it contains hundreds of powerful templates that support common migration combinations—for instance, from internal ERP solutions to an external cloud solution such as

Use of these is easy, thanks to an intuitive drag-and-drop interface. And modifying the templates if data formats require that is also a snap—JavaScript editing is supported, so more complex languages like C++ aren't required. This means that it's much easier, faster, less costly, and less complex to migrate key applications to clouds than ever before; instead of custom coding, it's largely just a matter of custom configuration.

Then, given the cloud-based service, it becomes a much more straightforward matter to give mobile users access to that service, whether from custom applications (such as those created by IBM Worklight) or a standard Web browser.

Manage mobile applications and smart devices for higher value - and lower risk of a security breach

What about management of the applications on the mobile devices—and those devices themselves?

Typically, such devices, never originally created for enterprise business services, aren't sufficiently secure, and if the organization leaves them in that state, the potential consequences could be disastrous as the workforce's use of them continues to scale up.

IBM Endpoint Manager for Mobile Devices can help. Once given permission by the device owners, this solution allows managers to improve and configure those devices to whatever extent is permitted by the underlying OS. In certain cases (Google Android for instance), that might mean a management agent can actually be installed on the device. In others (such as Apple iOS), an agent isn't possible, but a management layer is provided in the OS and the IBM solution can work through that. In all cases, device security can be significantly improved, benefiting both the organization and the employees themselves. For example, if such a device is lost, it's possible to set the unlock code, disable the device, or wipe personal and/or corporate data from the device—either from a self-service portal or with help from IT personnel.

Beyond these impressive capabilities, Endpoint Manager for Mobile Devices is also a great way to deploy and manage mobile applications. It includes an Enterprise App Store that allows the workforce to browse through preapproved, known-to-be-secure apps, then select and install whichever they need—including apps developed in-house via Worklight.

Subsequently, apps can be updated, added to the store, and rolled out to the devices automatically, helping to ensure that the most recent, feature-complete, and secure versions of those apps are always installed throughout the mobile infrastructure. Enterprise apps can then be easily removed by the organization when needed as well.

Interested in hearing more? The Mobile Enterprise stream at Pulse 2013 will feature many sessions touching on these topics in detail. Register today!

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