Managing Mobile Madness


The proliferation of smartphones across the IT landscape threatens to create a mobile morass within the enterprise that IT organizations will spend years digging themselves out from under unless they act now.

Just about every IT organization with any custom development capability at all is developing some sort of application for a smart phone. The trouble is that within the company itself, there are frequently multiple types of smart phones in use. And even if there is a single standard, chances are very good that was is the standard smart phone at the moment is going to be replaced by something "cooler" next year.

The potential problem this creates is that if an IT organization develops an application for the Apple iPhone, it's hard to move that application over to say a Palm Pre or a Google Android phone tomorrow.

In the absence of any real standards for developing mobile applications, IT organizations need to take a step back and think about what's the highest level of common abstraction for developing smart phone applications. Right now, that highest level of abstraction seems to be the database.

The leading contenders in the mobile database sector at the moment appear to be Sybase, followed by Oracle. By writing mobile applications to the Sybase database, for example, they become portable across any number of mobile devices. At the same time, Sybase has been partnering with a number of service providers to embed its database into a variety of networks. The carriers, by and large, have not opened their networks to third-party application development just yet, but this is a development that many industry watchers think will be inevitable given the development of the Internet Protocol Exchange (IPX).

The important thing for an IT organization to remember is that it needs to protect itself from the whims of a still maturing market that resembles the very early days of the PC market. After all, today's hot smartphone is just another piece of tomorrow's landfill.