What is mobile cloud computing?

We have been observing some significant technology trends for the last few years. Cloud computing and mobile are two such things. Widespread adoption of these two is changing our lives, the way we do business and most of our day-to-day dealings. The domain of systems of engagement is getting bigger and bigger. It is no longer just restricted to brick and mortar store or traditional browser based web applications. As mobile devices are becoming pervasive, many businesses are trying to engage customers through mobile channels as well. Hence mobile cloud computing is very important for us.

An explosion of mobile and handheld devices is also significantly contributing to world IP data traffic. To support such data demand, cloud computing seems to be the right choice because of its rapid scalability, ubiquitous network access, on-demand self-service and other features. We will find the definition of “mobile cloud computing” shortly. At this juncture, I would like to present some data to establish the need for cloud computing and mobile.

According to the International Data Corporation (IDC):

“The ICT industry is in the midst of a once every 20–25 years shift to a new technology platform for growth and innovation. We call it the 3rd Platform, built on mobile devices and apps, cloud services, mobile broadband networks, big data analytics and social technologies.”

The term “3rd platform” was first coined by IDC in 2007. It is very common to see today’s IT solutions being built on at least one of the four pillars – cloud, analytic, mobile and social. Analyst firm Gartner refers to this technology mix as Nexus of Forces. You might be interested in an overview of IDC’s technology forecast for 2015. IDC’s 2015 technology predictions report finds that worldwide IT spending will exceed 3.8 trillion USD in 2015 as a result of the contribution and growth of mobile, cloud, big data, Internet of Things and social. The report also states that sales of mobile devices and application development will constitute 40 percent of IT spending growth in 2015. In addition to this, massive wireless data growth worldwide will lead the carrier providers to provide platforms and API based services to attract developers. Can you ignore mobile technologies now?

What is mobile cloud computing? We know that mobile devices are constrained by their processing power, battery life and storage. However, cloud computing provides an illusion of infinite computing resources. Mobile cloud computing is a new platform combining the mobile devices and cloud computing to create a new infrastructure, whereby cloud performs the heavy lifting of computing-intensive tasks and storing massive amounts of data. In this new architecture, data processing and data storage happen outside of mobile devices.

The “computing” component of the cloud consists of a number of pre-configured, pre-built and scalable services for consumption with mobile applications. Cloud runtimes are also offered as a mechanism to offload business logic from mobile devices. All these fit within the cloud platform as a service (PaaS) model and are collectively known as mobile backend as a service (MBaaS).

Mobile applications leverage this IT architecture to generate following advantages:

  • Extended battery life
  • Improvement in data storage capacity and processing power
  • Improved synchronization of data due to “store in one place, access from anywhere” policy
  • Improved reliability and scalability
  • Ease of integration

(Source: A Survey of Mobile Cloud Computing: Architecture, Applications, and Approaches)

You might be interested to read about multimedia cloud computing for mobile devices in my blog post, “Hey, Cloud! So you think you can manage and deliver multimedia content?” You will find an example of how mobile devices use cloud computing for on-demand or live streaming.

The following factors are fostering the adoption of mobile cloud computing:

  • Trends and demands: customers expect the convenience of using companies’ websites or application from anywhere and at anytime. Mobile devices can provide this convenience. Enterprise users require always-on access to business applications and collaborative services so that they can increase their productivity from anywhere, even when they are on the commute.
  • Improved and increased broadband coverage: 3G and 4G along with WiFi, femto-cells, fixed wireless and so on are providing better connectivity for mobile devices.
  • Enabling technologies: HTML5, CSS3, hypervisor for mobile devices, cloudlets and Web 4.0 will drive adoption of mobile cloud computing.

(Source: Mobile cloud computing)

C-suite executives can unlock opportunities for their businesses, improve productivity and become competitive by unleashing the combined power of cloud computing and mobile technologies. It is high time that they include mobile cloud computing in their IT strategy and roadmap.

What are your thoughts? Share them in the comments below or connect with me on Twitter @shamimshossain.

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