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IBM Pushes Mobile Application Development into the Cloud

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One of the first places many organizations look to take advantage of the cloud is in building mobile computing applications. Most of them don’t have a lot of expertise when it comes to building mobile computing applications, or even access to the right set of tools. The cloud affords them a place to not only experiment in terms of building those applications, but to more cost-effectively deploy them.

Naturally, this perfect mix of conditions has attracted the attention of a variety of cloud service providers, the latest of which is IBM. The company today launched a new set of managed services around its Worklight platform for building mobile computing applications through which it will either build applications on behalf of customers or manage the infrastructure needed to build and deploy those applications.

According to Phil Buckellew, vice president for IBM Mobile Enterprise, the IBM Mobile Application Platform Management (MAPM) service is based on the new IBM Mobile Development Lifecycle Solution that IBM has developed to manage the mobile application development lifecycle. In essence, IBM is combining its suite of application lifecycle management tools with a Worklight platform it acquired earlier this year to provide a framework for building, deploying and managing mobile applications.

IBM expects that the average company will build 25 mobile computing applications over the next two years. In fact, IBM estimates that the mobile computing market in the enterprise is going to be worth about $130 billion by 2015. As part of the effort to address that opportunity, IBM has created a number of complementary cloud services based on a suite of IBM Mobile Foundation technologies that are designed to secure and manage mobile computing devices.

The biggest challenge IT organizations face when building mobile computing applications is that they never really know how popular those applications may become. When it comes to a mobile application, first impressions are everything; users typically don’t give mobile applications they don’t like a second look. A popular application will overwhelm a limited amount of IT infrastructure resources. An unpopular one will result in an over provisioning of resources. Moving mobile computing applications into the cloud allows IT organizations to dynamically adjust IT resources.

As part of an effort to give organizations more insight into how mobile computing applications are being used, Buckellew says IBM is also leveraging the customer experience management software it gained with the acquisition of Tealeaf Technology earlier this year within its managed service offering. That capability, says Buckellew, gives customers access to the analytics tools they need to track usage of their applications in real time.

Buckellew says that by definition mobile computing requires IT organizations to adopt agile methodologies via the cloud in order to manage mobile applications that need to be continuously updated. That approach also affords a better opportunity to secure those applications by giving organizations more control over exactly how and when those applications can be invoked based on use cases and policies defined by the IT organization.

Given the fact that mobile and cloud computing are really two ends of the same enterprise IT spectrum, it makes sense to tightly couple the two initiatives together. In fact, it’s hard to see how the return on investment (ROI) for one can ever really be achieved without the other.

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