What is mobile cloud computing?

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Note: We are currently posting the top 10 posts of 2013 today through Jan. 3. This post is #2 on the list and was originally published June 25, 2013.

mobile-appsWe 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 chores.

Research and analyst data show how profoundly these technologies have created a reverberation in the technology landscape around the world. 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.

The data on cloud 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. By 2020, when the ICT industry reaches $5 billion—$1.7 billion larger than it is today—at least 80% of the industry’s growth will be driven by these 3rd platform technologies, an explosion of new solutions built on the new platform, along with rapidly expanding consumption of all of the above in emerging markets.”

IDC’s 2013 technology predictions report finds that worldwide IT spending will exceed 2.1 trillion USD in 2013 as a result of the contribution and growth of mobile, cloud, big data and social technologies as well as emerging markets. The report also states that sales of smart mobile devices (smartphones, tablets and e-readers) will generate 20 percent of all IT sales, or 431 billion USD, in 2013. Mobile devices will be the biggest contributor to drive all IT market growth (57 percent) this year. Without mobile devices, IT market growth will be just 2.9 percent. Can you ignore mobile technologies now?

According to an Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs analysis, 2.5 billion people or 35 percent population of the world will own at least one smartphone by 2015. It is not surprising that global mobile data traffic will grow thirteen-fold from 2012 to reach 134 exabytes (1 followed by 18 zeros) in 2017, as CISCO finds.

Let me move my attention to cloud now. Cloud adoption is increasing significantly. According to a recent Gartner market forecast, worldwide public cloud spending will increase from $111 billion in 2012 to $131 billion in 2013. This is equivalent to an 18.5 percent increase. The International Data Corporation’s (IDC) Market Predictions for 2013 reveals that 70 percent of CIOs will consider and embrace a “cloud first” strategy in 2016.

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.

Mobile applications leverage this IT architecture to generate the 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.

Learn more about cloud basics in our series: Cloud 101

What is cloud computing?

How does cloud computing work?

Cloud computing basics

What is platform as a service (PaaS)?

What is infrastructure as a service (IaaS)?

What is software as a service (SaaS)?

What is hybrid cloud? 

Top 7 most common uses of cloud computing

Is cloud computing secure?

What is dynamic cloud?

How to explain cloud to your spouse

What is mobile cloud computing?

Senior Managing Consultant at GBS Cloud Centre of Competence

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