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The world is becoming increasingly mobile, which is driving an increasing need for mobile applications. It's a reality that IBM is aiming to serve with an updated mobile development product portfolio.
IBM's mobile development push begins with a product offering called IBM Mobile Foundation. The Mobile Foundation includes technologies that IBM gained with the acquisition of mobile development vendor Worklight earlier his year.
Phil Buckellew, vice president of IBM mobile enterprise, explained to Datamation that the new Mobile Foundation release provides improved support for native, hybrid and mobile web development. Buckellew added that IBM's mobile development strategy also includes end point management solutions as well as a lifecycle management offering for collaborative development.
"With the move toward BYOD, there is a lot of pressure on organizations to be able to manage the mobile devices that employees are bringing into the workplace," Buckellew said.
IBM's endpoint management technology provides the capability for self service by users. For example, a user that wants to download a mobile app just needs to answer a few questions on the IBM provisioned self-service portal about their role within the organization. The user can then automatically get the applications that are appropriate for the specific user based on their role within the enterprise.
IBM's Mobile Enterprise offering now also integrates with the Tealeaf customer experience management platform. IBM acquired Tealeaf in June of this year. The Tealeaf intelligence enables developers to build better apps based on real customer experience data.
"Tealeaf enables our users to see how their consumers interact with their consumer applications," Buckellew said. "It helps them understand where consumers are getting stuck and where the consumers are deciding not to press the buy button."
Enterprise App Deployment
IBM's Mobile app developer tool is a full Eclipse-based IDE that enables integration with other IBM developer tools. IBM has also taken an approach with the Worklight technology that enables developers to leverage both native mobile controls as well as HTML5.
This approach will work "by supporting HTML5 in a first class way that unlocks the potential to leverage other services that exist within our environment," Buckellew said.
For example, IBM's WebSphere Portal middleware now has good integration with the mobile development products, thanks in part to HTML5. IBM customers can now benefit from existing development and bring it into the mobile world.
"We can take those same WebSphere views and leverage them to build applications that enable customers to capitalize on work that has already been done," Buckellew said. "Then we add to it the ability to get to a device's camera and local file system storage."
Challenges and Apple iOS Support
Among the challenges in the mobile space is the issue of fragmentation. Applications need to be able to work on multiple platform as well as multiple versions of different platforms.
"You need to maintain the core business logic in a universal language like HTML5, but you also need to be able to capitalize, when you need to, on the nuances of each device," Buckellew said.
Pushing applications up to the Apple AppStore is also a situation that can be challenging for mobile developers. Apple's rules only permit code to be submitted via its Xcode IDE running on Mac OS. Buckellew noted, however, that IBM has a solution for the Apple situation that can enable team development.
IBM's Mobile Lifecycle Development solution enables teams of developers working on code. Even for applications that are targeted for Apple iOS, every developer will not be required to have a Mac OS machine.
"Since the builds are done on a central Mac machine, any developer can still check in code and then have builds kicked off from the Apple hardware in order to be the certified build," Buckellew said.