The challenges of becoming mobile ready

There is a need for applications for mobile devices
Everyone talks about apps and many business units in the organizations are worried about whether the train is leaving them standing on the platform. On the other side of the fence the operations IT department is bending backwards to find solutions and create the infrastructure with back-end data and applications that best support the business requirements. While the business units can not understand why it is not ‘easy peasy’ to get the infrastructure right, the operations IT department do not understand why the business units can not see the complexity behind it all. When Xact visit our customers we experience almost war-like situations regarding this specific issue. Mobile apps seem on the surface as something incredibly simple and there is plenty of help out there tool wise if you want to take on the app development challenge. But what is right for your business?

Xact recommends: Step one – get an overview!
It may seem trivial, but the reality is that many companies have an infrastructure with so many applications with different data types, application logic and storage options that they have lost track of the internal dependencies. The business wants their new mobile apps to have access to several of the applications’ data and information, while they also want all the benefits of typical app ‘smartness’ in terms of availability and user friendliness. So how do we make ends meet?

First of all: It is important to think through the entire process with the end result in mind before diving into any of the steps below!

The most important issues as we see them:

  1. A complete analysis of the code and bindings – here we use for example IBM Rational Asset Analyzer or similar tools
  2. Create the right data foundation – here we have several options, it could be our own XdataCon or IBM Castiron
  3. Look at what needs to be built as in how and where the now structured data can be used. This is where the architecture and choice of MEAP (Mobile Enterprise Application Platform) becomes an important choice. We know there are many tools to choose from, but we recommend IBM Worklight
  4. Throughout the entire process, it is important that the company thinks about security. How much and how little to be done here depends undeniably of the content that we exhibit outside of our DMZ
  5. The selection of data formats, development tools, MEAP and the like are all choices of great importance to determine what specific skills and specialists you have to make sure to have available in the development department in the future. If you opt for a non holistic choice you can end up with what is essentially is a brand new development environment. It may well be a good thing, but it has a cost, since operations typically require new skills in order to maintain this or new software. The same is often also true when we talk about the new production environment for mobility.
  6. Another question to take into consideration is the hosting solution. Should we choose a hosted solution? Should everything be on the same app server as we are already running or what?

There is obviously a lot of issues to be taken into consideration and complexity should not be underestimated, but at the same time, no one can sit on their hands for too long as market share may be lost. The best example of this, in the Danish market right now, may be the race Mobilepay vs. Swipp…