App Platform Vendors Add to Enterprises’ Confusion over Mobility

C. Dunlap
C. Dunlap

Summary Bullets:

  • Application platform providers’ general lack of a mobility strategy adds to the market confusion over mobile application platforms.
  • 2012 will be a key year in integration projects between EAP and MEAP.

No one needs a PowerPoint slide to convince a CIO of the unprecedented speed with which the mobile revolution has hit the industry.  Most execs are scrambling to get a mobile strategy in place after realizing the importance of mobile applications to their business’s future growth.  However, many receive a rude awakening when they learn that not all traditional application platform providers have a mobile strategy in place themselves which provides enterprises with the middleware integration necessary to connect mobile applications with back-end systems.  This integration is critical both from a B2E perspective, so that businesses may react more nimbly to the real-time needs of their customers, and from a B2C perspective, so consumers receive real-time information about services and products based on factors such as their location and history.

Therefore, enterprises need to dig deep to understand exactly where application platform vendors are at with their mobile strategies.  2012 will be the year where product roadmaps will get hammered out, with some initiatives expected to be clearer than others.  The most obvious progress comes from those vendors which have made mobile technology acquisitions. (e.g., SAP/Sybase and IBM/Worklight).  However, all application platform vendors have a hefty task ahead as they work to integrate mobile software platforms with their core middleware components, such as application servers.  Still, it is a task they are likely to prioritize, because prominent enterprise software vendors’ primary revenue stream comes from application platforms technology – products that represents the bread-and-butter business of vendors such as IBM and Oracle; as such, these vendors are very protective of these software and server divisions.  That’s why it is so surprising that the whole mobile revolution seemed to catch these vendors unaware, especially considering a number of MEAP players (including Antenna, SAP, Adobe/Nitobi, Rhomobile, Kony, Appcelerator, Sencha, Verivo, and Syclo) are standing by ready to fulfill the mobile platform needs of traditional middleware providers (including IBM, Oracle, Software AG, TIBCO, Red Hat, and Progress Software) with their own sophisticated and mature mobile application platforms.

I get that there’s a reason for this sluggish move into mobile.  The mobile revolution has experienced growth levels unparalleled by any other technology for as long as anyone can remember.  Sure, these vendors may have been paying attention, but they admit that the mobile predictions they made as recently as two years ago were completely wrong, forcing them to go back to the drawing board and start from scratch with predictions and product direction strategies.  Some vendors even admit to taking a wait-and-see attitude about mobility coupled with a ‘fast follower’ approach.

Still, this does not provide much reassurance to enterprises looking to their technology partners for guidance.  Perhaps a few quick best practices are in order.  CIOs looking to adopt MEAP technology should: limit mobile applications to just a few to get started; consider integration with popular mobile applications versus building your own; chose a mobile application platform that is going to scale with back-end support appropriate to your needs; make sure the underlying framework you chose is going to support shifts to new platforms; and finally, consider the maturity of the security and management provided by the mobile application platform provider.

In the meantime, keep pressing traditional EAP vendors for details on their mobile technology while getting to know a new set of technology partners: MEAP vendors.

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