- The convergence of the ‘cloud’ and mobility is a trend that vendors, service providers, and analysts have been predicting for years (and 2013 is no exception).
- However, ‘cloud’ means so many things in so many markets that some of this convergence has already happened under other names.
The promise of mobility has long included ‘anywhere, anytime’ access to public and corporate information and collaboration resources. Adding cloud-based delivery (to smartphones and tablets) of the applications to leverage these resources seemingly enhances this proposition, lowering investment costs and increasing flexibility. However, public cloud services (in the form of PaaS, SaaS, and IaaS) are still in relatively early stages of market acceptance. Moreover, while use of enterprise mobility apps is accelerating, most organizations still prefer to buy these apps ‘off-the shelf,’ with use of internal or outsourced MEAPs or code development coming slowly up the curve. Meanwhile, the delivery of these apps is skewed towards in-house servers, with Android and iOS app stores coming in second and external hosting (i.e., cloud services) still lagging the market. Even enterprise app stores are essentially private clouds, with role-based permissions for access, fortified by access-level, app-level, device-level, and traditional corporate perimeter security.
The next step (where arguably mobility and the cloud ‘really’ converge) is when enterprise applications are commonly delivered to any device (mobile and non-mobile) and managed and secured by an external cloud services provider. This provider could be an operator, IT service provider, or OTT content provider (with revenue-share potential among these groups). We are already making some strides with these kinds of models. Mobile operators and IT SPs are offering cloud-based app stores, cloud-based dual persona solutions to separate business and personal data, and SaaS-based MDM platforms for mobile devices. What 2013 is likely to bring includes more traditional desktop virtualization for mobile devices, cloud security services that extend more explicitly to mobile devices, and unified communications and collaboration services that more effectively serve mobile workers with equal access across personal and corporate-owned devices. However, the most important change will be for public cloud services to mature; with fears of security breaches, outages, and instability still hampering uptake, it is no wonder that the ‘mobile cloud’ still has a lot of work to do to gain broad market acceptance.