IBM Surfs the Mobile Wave: Build, Connect,
Manage, Extend

As mobile grows, so grows the demand for a new approach to mobile in the enterprise

SERVICE MANAGEMENT IN ACTION IBM's leadership in mobile computing has taken impressive strides in recent weeks. Via a major new company acquisition, a newly-announced management solution, and a suite of related capabilities spanning both development and social media, IBM now offers the most full-featured, end-to-end mobile solution for organizations looking to leverage mobile technologies for best business value.

And the number of those organizations grows more every day, because mobile tech is hot and getting hotter. Consider that in 2011, according to the 2011 Economist, smartphone shipments exceeded personal computers for the first time. By 2020, an incredible 10 billion mobile connected devices are expected to be in daily use around the world.

If mobile tech isn't actually the dominant standard just yet, those statistics are nevertheless a clear sign of the road ahead. For organizations, navigating that road smoothly will require a new perspective, new strategies, and new solutions.

On the one hand, mobile devices mean workers will be increasingly empowered to collaborate, accessing core organizational data and applications wherever they go, whenever they want. Apps developed specifically for these platforms will also give employees convenient, engaging new ways to track line-of-business services and utilize any necessary business resources more quickly and easily than ever before.

On the other hand, business and IT challenges will unquestionably emerge in parallel. Developing those new apps will typically demand a new approach to software development—particularly because the range of mobile platforms is already broad and getting broader, potentially multiplying development complexity. Connecting mobile endpoints to back-end services and architectures in a secure and scalable fashion will not be easy, either. And security and compliance problems originating on the endpoints themselves could also emerge as employees increasingly use devices that were never designed specifically for business use, and that may not have been fully (or even partially) secured and rendered regulation-compliant by the employer.

That's why, according to a 2011 IBM Tech Trends Report, the top three mobile adoption concerns expressed by organizations today are (1) security, (2) development cost for multiple platforms, and (3) cloud integration—with only two percentage points separating those three concerns in overall priority.

To address those concerns, organizations will need a comprehensive mobile solution platform that addresses all three concerns. Ideally, it would be one that can spur workforce optimization, product and service innovation, social collaboration, customer care, and new app development, all without introducing unwanted costs, business risks, and management complexities.

Worklight: Build mobile apps once, then deploy them anywhere

"Thanks to the Worklight acquisition, in fact, IBM now offers the most comprehensive, end-to-end mobile solution for the enterprise, ideally positioned to help organizations build mobile applications, connect them to back-end systems and IT infrastructures such as private and hybrid clouds, manage and secure them as necessary, and extend and transform them as needed to maximize their business value."

That description, in sum, is the point of IBM's new Mobile Enterprise initiative, which checks every box.

And a key part of that initiative is IBM's recent acquisition of leading mobile application solution provider Worklight.

Worklight (link resides outside of ibm.com)—a privately-held company based in Tel Aviv and New York—is a nearly perfect fit for both IBM's strategic outlook on mobile and IBM customers' needs and interests. That's because, via Worklight's development solutions, organizations can create new apps for smart mobile devices like phones and tablets using a single codebase, then roll out versions of the app instantly for all platforms—despite their increasing variety of underlying hardware, operating systems, application programming interfaces, and other factors that distinguish one device from another.

Despite its very up-to-the-minute market appeal and core strengths, Worklight's technology is quite mature, in version 4.2 already and now some six years old. And Worklight is also a proven solution, with customers around the world ranging from leading financial institutions to a major international telecommunications provider to one of the world's largest retailers to a prominent international hotel.

The Worklight platform consists of the following major elements:

The Worklight platform provides organizations with rapid development of apps using standardized technologies—HTML 5, CSS 3, and JavaScript—as well as a variety of app delivery models ranging from mobile Web apps to hybrid apps to native apps.

And because it's compatible with leading Javascript frameworks like jQuery and Sencha, organizations aren't locked into a single framework that may prove problematic down the road; instead, they can simply pick and choose whichever framework is best suited for them in any given context.

Naturally, IBM will be integrating Worklight technology with its vast software solution portfolio over time for added value in suitable cases. Already, in fact, Worklight has been integrated with both the IBM Rational development portfolio and the IBM WebSphere application server portfolio—quick work, given that the acquisition was only finalized on February 27th.

Rational and Cast Iron: Build new apps and connect them to the infrastructure

Thanks to the Worklight acquisition, in fact, IBM now offers the most comprehensive, end-to-end mobile solution for the enterprise, ideally positioned to help organizations build mobile applications, connect them to back-end systems and IT infrastructures such as private and hybrid clouds, manage and secure them as necessary, and extend and transform them as needed to maximize their business value.

No other IT vendor can boast that value proposition. And going forward, as the market continues to embrace mobile solutions for both business and personal use, it will become an increasingly important distinction.

Particularly in the area of building and connecting mobile apps, in fact, IBM has made major strides. In addition to the Worklight technology, for instance, consider how its integration with Rational technology enhances both solution groups considerably, all to the benefit of IBM customers. Proven, robust Rational capabilities in the area of collaborative lifecycle management now supply project governance to Worklight development.

The results? Among others:

New apps, in short, are not only much easier to build for as many mobile devices/operating systems as necessary, but they are also simply better apps, that create more value for their users by supporting a superior, more collaborative working experience.

And consider how perfectly an earlier acquisition—Cast Iron—applies to this situation as well. Cast Iron technology delivers an incredibly fast integration of existing infrastructures with a broad variety of external cloud architectures and services via built-in, out-of-the-box integrations.

For instance, organizations that want to keep SAP and ERP information in-house, yet utilize external cloud services such as Salesforce, will find that Cast Iron integrations allow organizations to accomplish this with little or no recoding of SAP apps. Instead, managers utilize a simple drag-and-drop interface for seamless information flow.

With the help of IBM's Cast Iron solution capabilities, in other words, mobile software developers should find it significantly easier to link new mobile apps with back-end systems and cloud services (which you'll recall as one of the top three concerns expressed by surveyed organizations).

Supplemented with project traceability features drawn from Rational Collaborative Lifecycle Management, information should then be able to flow throughout the organization on demand. That will be true whether it flows through a conventional IT infrastructure, an internal or external cloud, or mobile devices and apps—or any combination of them the organization requires to best meet its business needs, securely and comprehensively.

IBM Endpoint Manager for Mobile: Manage and secure mobile devices

And because organizations also need a new approach to mobile device management, IBM has rolled out a new offering in its Endpoint Manager solution family: IBM Endpoint Manager for Mobile Devices.

This offering delivers exactly the value you'd expect—traditional Endpoint Manager capabilities applied to mobile devices as well.

How does it work? In the case of endpoints like Apple's iOS that don't support an agent but do support endpoint management via a special API, that API is leveraged to carry out key functions like erasing e-mail, calendar, or even personal data for company or team member security, if the device is lost. And in cases where an agent is supported, like Google's Android platform, IBM has simply ported the existing Endpoint Manager agent to the device for an even broader range of functions.

In both scenarios, organizations get better visibility, control, and automated management over mobile endpoints than ever before. And if that weren't enough, the solution also deploys recommended apps—handy for pushing out those apps created via Worklight/Rational tools to any mobile device whose owner approves the installation.

Social collaboration: transform the business via new opportunities to interact

Rounding out IBM's Mobile Enterprise initiative: a powerful suite of mobile solutions to foster social business

Specific key offerings include:

By the end of 2012, device-appropriate implementations of these solutions should be available for a number of different leading mobile platforms including Apple iOS, Google Android, Research in Motion BlackBerry, and Nokia Symbian—with more to come in future.

Using them and related IBM social business tools, organizations can leverage the formidable power of Web 2.0-style environments inside company walls for natural collaboration in the ways team members enjoy—and are likely to use—the most.

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