The Mobile Platform Battle for the Enterprise Continues

C. Dunlap
C. Dunlap

Summary Bullets:

  • By year’s end, MEAPs will expand backend system connector support.
  • MEAPs need to continue to penetrate the enterprise through channel programs, OEM partnerships, and cloud coupling.

The battle to gain ground in the mobile platform space continues between traditional enterprise application platform (EAP) providers and the newer group of mobile application development platform (MADP) vendors, both vying for the attention of the enterprise.  Between now and the end of the year, expect to hear a lot more from both of these groups, each of which will present strong arguments for why enterprise developers will want to invest in their platform technology to implement mobile strategies which include mobile development, deployment, and management of applications for a variety of devices.

IBM recently threw down the gauntlet when it unveiled the IBM Mobile Foundation family of products, following its acquisition of Worklight.  Leading mobile vendors, such as Antenna, Appcelerator, Verivo (formerly Pyxis), Sencha, and Kony, have mature application development platforms which include integration technology via connectors between workflow applications and backend systems.  These providers will continue to build out their connectors to enable broader support for traditional backend systems built using SOA architectures.  SAP recognizes the value proposition by these mobile platform providers, namely their ability to help developers quickly and easily create desktop, Web, and mobile applications.  SAP, therefore, has been aggressive in augmenting its existing mobile offering through partnerships with Sencha, Appcelerator, and Adobe, making these vendors’ development platforms available on SAP’s Sybase Unwired Platform (SUP).

The go-to-market strategy of these two sets of technology providers is dramatically different.  While some EAP vendors need to demonstrate that they actually have a mobile strategy, once in place the providers will hardly have to make any effort as they market emerging mobile platforms to their existing application platform customer base.  They have in their possession the industry’s most mature middleware.  This integration technology includes an overarching SOA infrastructure which supports the ability to expose APIs for deeper backend integration.  Having a high level of backend systems integration is what makes mobile applications most meaningful in their ability to access appropriate data in real-time and interactive ways.  MEAPs, on the other hand, while clearly owning the industry’s best-of-breed mobile platform technology, have an uphill battle as they look to gain the attention of enterprise developers.  Here are some important steps they must take to accomplish this:

  • Channel — Just as EAPs have done, mobile platform companies are now at the stage where they should be moving from a direct to an indirect sales model and leaning on SIs and ISVs to bring products to market.
  • OEM — MEAPs need to partner with conventional application platform providers to supplement their traditional middleware offerings and mobile platforms with straightforward, HTML5-based mobile platforms, frameworks, and tools.
  • PaaS Services — A compelling offering to enterprise developers would be the coupling of PaaS with mobile application development tools and integration capabilities.  MEAP vendors should look to partner with providers of PaaS offerings including Microsoft Azure,, VMware Cloud Foundry, and Red Hat OpenShift.

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