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Why mobile needs cloud

woman-mobile-phone-shoppingI attended IBM Impact this year, and the resounding battle cry was “mobile first!” However, even though mobile was the star of the show, cloud was still there on stage playing a supporting role. I don’t think that mobile can go where it’s headed without cloud. Mobile needs cloud, and here is why:

Mobile is changing the way we do everything. We want to be able to do things like edit photos, trade stocks, chat with friends and access our bank accounts wherever we go. Our expectations are greater, and our mobile device is always within arm’s reach.

Mobile is not something you merely adopt, or add on to your existing enterprise. It requires a fundamental change in approach to designing business processes and user interfaces. You have to think about mobile first, and redesign from the outside in.

According to Ted Schadler, author of Empowered: Unleash Your Employees, Energize Your Customers, and Transform Your Business, there are about 800,000 mobile apps right now, but there are over 100 million active public web sites. It’s not hard to imagine reaching 100 million mobile apps – there’s an app for everything – but how do we get there?

mobile-appsThe rise of mobile has many consequences. I already mentioned the need to reinvent business processes. You also see an explosion of micro-activity levels – users constantly performing many small actions, like checking status, responding to messages, and so on. Each of these little interactions adds up. Lots of transactions means that lots of compute power is needed to drive them, and lots of data is generated from these transactions.

When I asked my husband (who is not tech savvy) what he thought about mobile and cloud, he said, “Of course, mobile needs cloud. Where else would you store all your music files and photos? You can’t keep it all on your phone.” A point that’s obvious to the typical mobile user, but what’s not so obvious is the goldmine of information that can be derived from all that data.

And then, there’s the issue of managing (and securing) multiple channels. For example, a single mobile user’s shopping session might start on the web, continue in the store, and conclude on a mobile device. How do you keep the user’s experience consistent from one channel to another?

Cloud answers a lot of these issues. What better way to deal with such growing demands and a fast-moving endpoint?

You can find many examples of mobile and cloud working together to provide a better user experience around the globe. For example, at Impact 2013, Ton Ngo, of the IBM Cloud Lab, talked about his experience working with Vietnam Mobile Telecom Services (VMS MobiFone). They needed to grow revenue and expand their market overseas, so they looked to cloud technologies to consolidate and standardize workloads on their existing infrastructure. They standardized their application platform on the cloud to make it more secure and scalable.

  • VMS cloud management platform:
    • SmartCloud Provisioning
    • SmartCloud Monitoring
    • IBM Workload Deployer, for pattern management
    • Tivoli Endpoint Manager, for patch Management
  • Application platform:
    • WebSphere Application Server
    • Tivoli Access Manager for e-business
  • Infrastructure:
    • IBM PureFlex (13×240 Compute Nodes)
    • IBM Storwize V7000
    • TS3200 Tape Library
  • Desktop Cloud: VMWare View Premium
  • Backup: Tivoli Storage Manager

They used IBM Worklight and WebSphere Cast Iron (IBM Mobile Foundation) to provide mobile platform as a service to their partner network.

cast-iron-mobileBy creating a cloud ecosystem, they added value for mobile operators to attract and retain customers, and generate new profits.

At another session at Impact 2013, Todd Kaplinger talked about a different approach that involved deploying IBM Worklight-based applications to IBM PureApplication System. His solution leverages the new feature in IBM Worklight V5.0.6 that supports an IBM Mobile Application Platform Pattern type. This pattern type is designed to ease the deployment process for mobile workloads and support the mobile app development lifecycle. You can read more about his project here – Pass Builder – Developing High Value Mobile Cloud Services.

Companies have already invested in cloud technology for hosting enterprise web services. Now they want to create mobile applications that leverage these services, and they must support multiple platforms (Android, iOS, Blackberry). Mobile with cloud can help to extend the reach of existing enterprise applications and keep up with today’s demands for portability and a seamless user experience across multiple channels.

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