How Cloud Simplifies Mobile Development and Increases Agility

Michael Hickins

OracleVoice – 6/18/2015

Demands from business users for mobile applications of every stripe are straining IT departments and forcing IT leaders to find new ways to get that work done.

Facing tighter budgets during the last financial crisis, CIOs began using applications running in cloud servers—so-called software as a service—as an alternative to buying and maintaining those applications in their own data centers.

Now, as the number of such SaaS applications increases, CIOs are turning to another layer of cloud services—known as platform as a service (PaaS)—to integrate and develop apps across these SaaS properties in greater numbers and with more features, without forcing them to bust their budgets.

This is taking on greater importance as business managers recognize the ability of mobile apps to increase employee productivity and customer engagement.

Mobile PaaS is a set of cloud services that let companies develop and integrate applications, make them available on a variety of device types and operating systems, distribute them to users, and update them as needed, all without having to maintain that system in-house or hire developers and systems administrators to keep up with a rapidly changing IT environment.

“You want to talk about changing variables? How about the new generation of smart watches? There are only, what, five different operating systems for those alone, right?” says Suhas Uliyar, vice president of mobile strategy and product management at Oracle.

Mobile PaaS simplifies that back-end work so that IT organizations “can focus on what they do really well”—interface design, integration with other applications, analytics, and security.

This is particularly important because mobile app development is not, as Uliyar puts it, “putting wheels on a back end and calling it mobile. Mobile is very different [from traditional applications].”

Mobile apps, he says, have to be viewed in the context in which they’re being used.

“Mobile is about the richness of all the context you can give to the end user,” Uliyar says. “So that means how do I match up data from multiple systems? They could be external systems like Google Maps or payment systems or location beacons. You might also want to bring in data from multiple back-end systems, and integrate them with single sign-on.”

“For an enterprise, taking that front-end-looking app and wiring it into the enterprise, and integrating it into security policies, integrating it into the various systems of record—that’s what takes 80% of your time to actually build your mobile app,” he says.

A PaaS offering such as Oracle’s Mobile Cloud Service can relieve IT organizations of a number of responsibilities, Uliyar says.

The goal of the service is to make it easier for mobile application developers to meet their customers’ needs more quickly. Mobile Cloud Service reduces the complexities of application development by dealing with server-side programming, reducing the redundancy in creating back-end code blocks, and providing ready-to-integrate services and templates for the back end.

This allows developers to focus more on the front end of the applications while using their choice of mobile client development tools—including Oracle’s Mobile Application Framework (MAF) or Xamarin for cross-platform hybrid apps, native development, or other Javascript tools. “This creates a whole new meaning for BYOD: Bring your own development,” says Uliyar.

Mobile Cloud Service also provides mobile specific interfaces for notification, offline data sync, and services to store mobile-generated data and user preferences.

Security is a critical component and is designed from the ground up in the service, which includes “encryption policies for data in rest, data in motion, policies for single sign-on and federated authentication across multiple data sources, and policies for defining access rights to applications,” says Uliyar.

Another key component of the service is to provide developers, IT and business with metrics on service usage and business impact.

“Mobile Analytics is a key value proposition in Mobile Cloud Service to help developers and business get insight into application performance and application adoption and usage. With this insight businesses can personalize their engagement with the end users and in mobile business to consumer use cases increase monetization via the mobile channel. ” he says.

The central notion of this cloud service is that it not only provides developers with the tools they need in the first place, but helps them keep pace with changes to the various operating environments they deal with on an ongoing basis.

“Mobile developers can instantly start working on the next version with the cloud service managing the full mobile life cycle development,” Uliyar says.



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