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Mobilitys Next Challenge:


8 Steps to an App Environment
Taking your companys mobile capabilites to the next level requires a life-cycle management plan that encompasses development, distribution, security, support and enhancement. We show you how to get there, and provide insight into the five mobile application development options.
By Michael Finneran

Report ID: S3250811

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Authors Bio Executive Summary How to Take IT Mobile Whats Involved? Life-Cycle Management 1. Development Environment 2. Software Distribution 3. Maintenance, Patches and Upgrades 4. Security 5. User Support and the Help Desk 6. Expense Management 7. Support for New Platforms 8. Your Mobility Policy App Vs. Browser: Options for Mobile App Developments 1. Native Custom Applications 2. Mobile Enterprise Application Platforms 3. Web-Based Apps 4. Packaged Mobile Apps 5. Mobile Virtualizations Desktop Infrastructure The Payoff Related Reports

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decision-makers with real-world perspective based on a combination of qualitative and quantitative research, business and technology assessment and planning tools, and technology adoption best practices gleaned from experience. If youd like to contact us, write to managing director Art Wittmann at awittmann@techweb.com, content director Lorna Garey at lgarey@techweb.com and research managing editor Heather Vallis at hvallis@techweb.com. Find all of our reports at www.analytics.informationweek.com.

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Figure 1: Unsupported OS Platforms Figure 2: Devices Running IT-Supported OS Platforms Figure 3: Support Concerns Figure 4: Top Concerns With Growing Number of Devices and Operating Systems Figure 5: Device Management Systems Figure 6: Android Deployments by Release as of June 1, 2011 Figure 7: Smartphone Policy

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Michael Finneran, principal at dBrn Associates, is an independent consultant and industry analyst specializing in wireless technologies, mobile unified communications and fixed/mobile conMichael Finneran dBrn Associates vergence. He has more than 30 years of experience in the networking field and is the author of Voice Over Wireless LANs: The Complete Guide (Elsevier, 2008). His expertise spans the full range of wireless technologies, including Wi-Fi, 3G/4G cellular, WiMAX and RFID. In the consulting area, Mr. Finneran has provided assistance to carriers, equipment vendors, end users and investment firms in the United States and overseas. His clients have included AT&T, Sprint, Foundation Capital, IBM, RIM, Prudential Insurance, McGraw-Hill and Merrill Lynch. He has appeared at hundreds of trade shows and industry conferences, including Enterprise Connect (formerly VoiceCon) and Interop; he now serves as the program chair for wireless and mobility at Enterprise Connect.

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Executive Summary
5 August 2011

Mobile technology isnt just about staying in touch anymore. With a growing number of smartphones, tablets and mobile computers, along with highercapacity mobile networks, enterprises are now focusing on how they can use mobile tools to transform their business models and core processes. Taking mobility to the next level requires integrating this technology into the business in ways that provide real return on investment. Providing new mobile capabilities is challenging, because the networks and infrastructures surrounding them is rapidly changing. Mobile service providers are rolling out higher-speed services and eliminating unlimited data plans. Many businesses are shifting away from company-supplied devices to employee-owned devices, which means less investment and responsibility up frontbut IT has to support significantly more platforms. The biggest challenge is supporting enterprise applications on a variety of operating systems, including iOS, Android and Windows Mobile, in an environment where the user, not IT, decides when to upgrade the OS. Security, management and end user support are among the other challenges. To deal with these issues, IT managers need to take a hard look at the various aspects of a mobile applications life cycle, including development, distribution, security, support and enhancement. These areas must be planned before starting the mobile app development process, because theyll impact the development approach selected. In this report we delve into the eight pieces of the mobile app life-cycle process that are critical to assess. We also examine five app development approaches and their respective advantages and challenges.

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How to Take IT Mobile


Mobility is IT managements new challenge. Driven by the growing number of smartphones, tablets and mobile computers, along with higher-capacity mobile networks, companies are exploring how they can use mobile tools to transform their core processes and business models. Mobile email and text capabilities have let employees stay connected wherever they are, but taking mobility to the next level requires integrating mobility into the business in ways that drive real ROI. New mobile capabilities must be delivered in a rapidly changing environment. While the mobile service providers are rolling out higher-speed services, theyre also eliminating unlimited data plans. In addition, many businesses are shifting from company-supplied to employee-owned
Figure 1

Unsupported OS Platforms
Which of the following OS platforms are allowed to run within your organization, but are not officially supported by IT?

Apple/Mac

33%
Android

31%
Linux (open source)

27%
RIM (BlackBerry)

25%
Windows

21%
Linux (vendor-specific)

15%
Unix

14%
None

35%
Note: Multiple responses allowed Data: InformationWeek Analytics OS Wars Survey of 441 business technology professionals, May 2011
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devices. This bring-your-own-device approach means IT has to support more platforms, providing security and management in this new freewheeling environment. The main challenge will be supporting enterprise applications on iOS, Android, Windows Mobile and other operating systems, in an environment where the user, not IT, decides when to upgrade the OS. A recent InformationWeek Analytics survey of 441 business technology professionals found that 65% had unsupported operating systems in use in their companies (see Figure 1, page 6). Among the supported platforms, Android and BlackBerry led the way with 93% and 92% of respondents supporting them, followed by Apples iOS with 56% (see Figure 2, below). That same study found that 78% of respondents were either somewhat or very concerned about supporting the growing number of devices and operating systems (see Figure 3, page 9). Drilling deeper into the reasons for concern, security led the list, cited by 62%, followed by too many devices and operating systems to manage (53%), end user support (43%) and lack of a centralized platform to manage them all (39%) (see Figure 4, page 10). These concerns are well founded, given that only 13% of respondents had antivirus software on smartphones compared with 95% on PCs, and 13% had patch management and software deployment tools compared with 78% for PCs (see Figure 5, page 11). Thirty-nine percent reported having no smartphone management systems at all.
Figure 2

Devices Running IT-Supported OS Platforms


On which devices are you running these OS platforms?
Desktops 98% 64% 48% 30% 19% N/A N/A Laptops 93% 76% 29% 20% 5% N/A N/A Netbooks 35% 9% 12% 9% 1% N/A N/A Tablets 16% 52% 3% 3% 0% 31% 5% Smartphones 17% 56% 5% 4% 0% 93% 92% Servers 71% 17% 79% 87% 91% N/A N/A Thin clients/ terminals 24% 2% 12% 11% 9% N/A N/A

Windows Apple/Mac Linux (open source) Linux (vendor-specific) Unix Android RIM (BlackBerry)

Note: Multiple responses allowed Data: InformationWeek Analytics OS Wars Survey of 441 business technology professionals, May 2011

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To deal with these issues, youll need to take a hard look at the various aspects of a mobile applications life cycle, including development, distribution, security, support and enhancement. These are areas youll need to plan out before starting the development process because theyll impact the app development approach you take. Youll also want to examine the various development options, and their respective advantages and challenges. Applications are going mobile, and line-of-business managers will be looking to IT to get the job done, so its time to come to grips with how youll handle it.

Whats Involved? Life-Cycle Management The first step in addressing a mobile application is to understand the scale and nature of the task. Application developers are familiar with the overall process, but mobility throws in several additional challenges: Mobile devices are easily lost or stolen, introducing greater security risks. Mobile networks are slower and less reliable than regular networks, and they arent always available. Mobile data services are becoming more expensive, particularly with the demise of unlimited data plans. If users roam internationally, the costs can go through the roof. Mobile devices have slower processors and less memory; battery life can be a limiting factor as well. There are a number of design options available for mobile application projects. The approach you take will affect both capital and operating expenses, functionality and user experience. Before you start, think through the entire app life cycle and plan for each of the eight major elements below.

1. Development Environment The mobile industry is caught up in app mania, but a customized app may not be the best choice for every company. You can customize mobile apps for the screen size and user interface characteristics of the mobile devices you deploy or support, but that can come at a high price if different versions of the app will be needed for each mobile ecosystem (BlackBerry, Apple iOS, Android, Symbian, Windows Mobile, Windows Phone 7, WebOS and so on).

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Android brings its own unique challenge because it has seven distinct releases in circulation (see Figure 6, page 12). Mobile enterprise application platforms (MEAPs) can help with the development challenge by letting you develop one application that works across multiple platforms. The alternative is to develop a Webbased app and use the mobile browser. Tablets have introduced the potential for virtual desktop integration (VDI), using tools from vendors such as Citrix and VMware; both these vendors have introduced mobile clients.

2. Software Distribution Once you have the application, you must get it to your users. The two main options are over-the-air distribution, where the app is sent to the device using a wireless data service, or syncing with a PC. While slower and potentially more costly, over-the-air distribution is generally preferred because users have to do very littlea link to the download site is emailed or texted to their mobile devices.
Figure 3

Support Concerns
To what degree are you concerned about supporting a growing number of devices and operating systems?

Very concerned

24%

22%
Not at all concerned

54%

Somewhat concerned

Data: InformationWeek Analytics OS Wars Survey of 441 business technology professionals, May 2011

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Alternatively, you can distribute apps through Apples iTunes Store. Companies must join Apples iOS Developer Enterprise Program, and each app must be signed with a distribution certificate. Android apps also must be signed, and the posting party must register as an Android developer. Companies that want to control their own software distribution can set up internal app stores using tools like EASE from Apperian, or the app management capabilities in mobile device management (MDM) systems, such as those from AirWatch, MobileIron, Sybase (now part of SAP) or Zenprise.
Figure 4

Top Concerns With Growing Number of Devices and Operating Systems


What are your top concerns over the growing number of devices and operating systems that you may need to support?

Security risks

62%
Too many varieties of devices and operating systems to manage

53%
End user support

43%
Lack of a centralized platform to manage them all

39%
Cost of maintenance

23%
Cost of management

21%
Loss of control over process

20%
Differing authentication methods

8%
Rising costs of devices

6%
Other

2%
Note: Three responses allowed Base: 343 respondents concerned about supporting a growing number of devices and operating systems Data: InformationWeek Analytics OS Wars Survey of 441 business technology professionals, May 2011

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3. Maintenance, Patches and Upgrades Youll also have to plan for distributing patches and upgrades. MDM systems can help with this, too. Some systems provide automatic user notifications when an updated version of an application is available. At a minimum, administrators can blacklist the earlier version and force users to upgrade. The one problem with this approach is that you dont want users who are traveling overseas where mobile charges are exorbitant to have to upgrade, but unless they upgrade, they wont be able to access information they need. You can do software distribution and maintenance without an MDM system, but it can be cumbersome in a large deployment, particularly if each user must download the app to a PC or laptop and then upload it to a smartphone. You end up paying a lot of help desk overtime every time you push out an upgrade, and you still need a way to ensure that all users have installed it.

4. Security Security is a top concern with mobile systems. One way to ensure company data stays private is to bar storing it on mobile devices. RIMs PlayBook tablet accesses corporate email, calendar and contacts through the BlackBerry smartphone using a secure Bluetooth interface called BlackBerry Bridge. If the Bridge connection is broken, all data is erased from the PlayBook. Web-based applications are another a good way to keep data from falling into the wrong hands, but access to these apps must be tightly controlled. Web-based apps with SSL connectivity will
Figure 5

Device Management Systems


What types of internal management systems do you have in place for the following devices?
Patch management/ software deployment Imaging 78% 75% 18% 20% 11% 10% 14% 12% 13% 7% Remote support 81% 27% 13% 15% 18% Discovery & inventory 68% 27% 14% 14% 19% Auditing/ tracking 66% 24% 18% 16% 26% License tracking 65% 20% 13% 12% 18% Device not in use 1% 30% 32% 50% 9%

PCs Macs Tablets Thin terminals Smartphones

Antivirus 95% 35% 18% 17% 13%

None 0% 20% 35% 23% 39%

Note: Multiple responses allowed Data: InformationWeek Analytics OS Wars Survey of 441 business technology professionals, May 2011

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encrypt the data in transit, even if the user is connected through a public hot spot. Apps without SSL should connect through a VPN, particularly if hot spot access is supported. The downside of this approach is that users can access the app only if they have serviceable network connectivity. SSL-based access provides over-the-air security, but cut-and-paste capabilities on mobile devices still lets users copy sensitive data from the Web-based applications and paste it into another document on the device. If sensitive information will reside on the device, security issues start to multiply. At a minimum, you must ensure that data on the device is encrypted, a strong password is required to power it on, and all information on the device can be wiped remotely. You also must be able to wipe all company information if the user leaves, even if its a user-owned device. Policy enforcement and remote wipe are standard capabilities on MDM systems, but other requirements may present a challenge. Not all mobile operating systems support on-board encryption. For example, Android 2.2, the most widely deployed version of the OS, doesnt support on-device encryption. Android 3.0 doesbut only on tablets. The Android 4.0 release, called Ice Cream Sandwich, will run on both smartphones and tablets, and will likely include on-board encryption. Its due next year. Finally, if users will be moving in and out of wireless coverage, tools like NetMotion Wirelesss Mobility XE can maintain a persistent, secure (FIPS 140-2 compliant) VPN connection. That way users wont need to log in and restart their applications every time they re-enter the coverage area. This approach is limited to Windows environments now, but NetMotion says it plans to address other mobile OS environments as well.
Figure 6

5. User Support and the Help Desk Some companies justify moving to userowned devices as a way to save on support costs. But solving IT problems isnt a good use of employees time. The quirky nature of mobile connections and the relative newness of mobile technologies will lead to more, rather than fewer, support calls. Make sure you consider help desk training in your calculations.

Android Deployments by Release as of June 1, 2011


PLATFORM Android 1.5 Android 1.6 Android 2.1 Android 2.2 Android 2.3 Android 2.3.3 Android 3.0
Data: Google

DISTRIBUTION 1.9% 2.5% 21.2% 64.6% 1.1% 8.1% 0.3%

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6. Expense Management With the service providers phasing out unlimited data plans, the cost of mobile network usage could rise. One way around that is to configure devices so they first go to available Wi-Fi networks. Of course, if that includes public hot spots, you must ensure theres a VPN or other encryption mechanism in place, since public access points dont use any Wi-Fi encryption mechanisms. Wireless expense management systems, such as those offered by Asentinel, Rivermine and Tangoe, let you import the carriers billing information, plot trends, highlight exceptions and determine the most effective plan for each user. At a minimum, use your pilot test to get a baseline of the amount of data traffic the mobile application creates, so you can budget for the expense.

7. Support for New Platforms The deluge of new mobile devices wont abate anytime soon, so define how youre going to test and certify your application for any new devices that will need support. Two years ago, tablets
Figure 7

Smartphone Policy
Which of the following best describes your organizations formal or informal policy on smartphones?

The organization issues smartphones to users; personal devices are not supported

35%

27%

The organization issues a preferred smartphone, but will support a personal device

5%
We dont issue or support smartphones, but employees still use personal devices for work The organization supports any personal smartphone type

7% 8% 18%

The organization lets users choose any smartphone, but owns and supports the phone

The organization supports a limited number of personal smartphone types

Base: 595 respondents at organizations using or evaluating mobile operating systems for smartphones Data: InformationWeek Analytics Mobile OS Vendor Evaluation Survey of 651 business technology professionals, May 2011

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werent even a blip on the radar screennow theyre everywhere. And dont think strictly in terms of new tablets and smartphones; imagine other purpose-built and specialized mobile appliances that will find their way onto your network.

8. Your Mobility Policy Once youve plotted the overall strategy, incorporate it into your mobility policy. Spell out the range of devices and OS environments youll support, personal and business apps allowed, acceptable use, user responsibilities and penalties for noncompliance, and all other management issues that govern mobility. If you dont have a mobility policy, its time to draft one. The Enterprise Mobility Forum, a think tank backed by several wireless vendors, provides an excellent template to help you to determine what to include.

App Vs. Browser: Options for Mobile App Development When it comes time to develop and deploy a mobile application, you have five options, each with its own set of advantages and risks. One of the biggest concerns is whether the app must be able to operate when theres no mobile network access available. Web-based apps depend on network access, but an app on the device typically can provide at least some degree of off-line functionality. Increasingly the trend is toward Web-based apps using either a browser on the device or a thin client that provides a customized user interface to a Web-based app. With a Web approach you lose off-line capability, but you also eliminate the need to develop different versions of the app for each OS. The other major design question is the range of operating systems to be supported. Ruggedized mobile computers use Windows Mobile almost exclusively, so thats not going away anytime soon. RIM BlackBerry and Apple support their own development environments. As more companies allow user-owned devices, it will become increasingly necessary to support a variety of OSes. And even companies that still supply mobile devices are finding they cant always force users onto a single platform.

Steps to a Mobile App Business Plan

1. Start slow, but start! 2. Identify potential applications to pursue 3. Define the application (functions,
performance requirements, number and types of devices, data volumes, etc.), and range of platforms to support

4. Identify management and support


requirements

5. Develop, pilot, evaluate and refine 6. Plan and deploy

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Voice has a special place in the mobile world. Any number of PBX and unified communications vendors have introduced smartphone clients only to have them languish on the shelf. These clients change the native calling interface on the phone and introduce a calling procedure thats foreign to the user. If your voice app requires that users rely on a different process to make and receive calls, you can expect serious pushback.

1. Native Custom Applications One development option is to build your own custom app or bring in a professional developer to do so. The advantage is that you can potentially get exactly what you want, built to your specifications, with an interface geared to your users. That said, there are considerable challenges, the biggest being the limited availability of mobile development expertise. Developing in a mobile environment is different from developing for a desktop. One way to get the expertise you need is to hire the services of a professional mobile application developer to assist in the project or to develop the apps in total. Many of the MEAPs described below also provide professional services to assist in designing, coding and testing the apps. Focus on the skill set required for the development environment youll use. Some offer 4G language capabilities, letting business analysts rather than highly trained (and highly paid) application developers do the coding. Wikipedia has an excellent matrix of the various development platforms, languages used, cross-platform compatibility, and debugger and emulator availability. After the initial development is complete, you must maintain the versions of your app for each of the mobile operating systems youre supporting. If thats not challenging enough, in most cases its the mobile operator supplying the device that chooses which version of the OS you get. So if your users are on different operator networks, they may be on different OS releases as well. Finally, with a custom application, ensure you have all the necessary infrastructure described earlier to secure, deploy and maintain the app across all the platforms you support. While custom apps look like a great idea, the challenges drive most companies to other options.

2. Mobile Enterprise Application Platforms MEAPs provide tools and middleware for mobile application development. There are singleplatform products, like those from Apple, RIM and Microsoft, and tools to develop applications that work across multiple platforms, like those from Antenna, IBM, Rhomobile, SAP Sybase and Spring Wireless.
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Most include prefabricated apps and form builders geared to small form factor devices that can be incorporated into custom apps. Interestingly, Gartners Magic Quadrant for Mobile Enterprise Application Platforms, released in April, doesnt have a single option in its Leaders quadrant. In selecting a MEAP know the functionality you need and the range of platforms you intend to sup, port. Some options focus on thick clients that can provide considerable off-line functionality, while others are geared to Web-based and cloud options that depend on continuous network availability.

3. Web-Based Apps As the number of mobile devices and operating systems grows, more companies are looking to Web- and cloud-based applications designed to run on all devices. Theoretically, a Web-based app requires no client on the device besides the native browser. This trend is being driven, in part, by the growing interest in HTML5, which adds enhanced multimedia capabilities and features like drag-and-drop and off-line Web applications. Apple has come out strongly in favor of HTML5 and has refused to support the alternative Adobe Flash on iPhones, iPads and iPods, opting instead for open standards. Success with this approach depends on having an app thats tailored to the smallest screen size of all the devices youll support. Further, not all environments support the full range of Web functionalityApple doesnt support Flash, for instance. Screen size is less a factor with tablet apps.

4. Packaged Mobile Apps For an increasing number of companies, the path of least resistance is to use packaged mobile applications provided by their software vendors. Companies like Cerner, IBM Lotus, McKesson, Oracle and SAP offer clients that let mobile devices access their back-end systems. While not fully customizable, this approach provides almost immediate mobile access with professionally developed tools and user interfaces. Further, many of these mobile elements are offered for little or no cost, as an enhancement to the core product.

5. Mobile Virtualization Desktop Infrastructure The last option is a mobile virtual desktop infrastructure that allows access to server-based data and applications. Citrix and VMware, which popularized virtual desktop environments, offer

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the Citrix Receiver and VMware View Client mobile clients, respectively. VDI has particular appeal in a mobile environment in that no data or applications reside on the mobile device. The introduction of tablets was key to the adoption of VDI in mobile environments because supporting a virtual desktop calls for more screen real estate than is available on a smartphone. For the moment, mobile VDI adoption is primarily among companies that have embraced VDI for desktops, though its expected to grow with tablet use. The VDI option takes the discussion in a different direction. If youve already adopted VDI for desktop computing, mobile clients can provide a way to add mobility to that environment. If youre considering VDI, the availability of a mobile option provides additional justification.

The Payoff While consumers may be satisfied with the ability to download and play Angry Birds on their smartphones and tablets, IT departments face huge challenges. In planning for mobile deployment, its key to specify the type of experience and range of devices youre looking to support, and to be clear about the limitations of the app youre deploying. Whats more, dont just think about the app but consider the entire management, security and support complex that surrounds it in order to deliver a full-featured user experience. While there are pros and cons to each development approach, the primary focus should stay on the user experience. Mobile apps are fundamentally different from desktop computingsessions are short and engaged in dozens of times a day, and often the user is relying on just one hand to operate the mobile device. Minimize the number of steps required to complete each function so users can maximize efficiency. A custom app may be tougher to develop, but you cant always deliver the mobile-appropriate user experience with the inherent capabilities of a browser. The learning curve may be steep, and there will be bumps along the way, but the payoff from providing mobile users with better productivity tools can be tremendous. Delivering business apps that have a positive ROI and put you in good stead with both users and upper management requires extensive systems planning and solid application design.

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