For most enterprise software developers, it wasn't too long ago when mobile development was just an afterthought. Mobile was just an annoying but necessary adjunct to traditional ALM, the red-headed stepchild of web app development, but not anymore. Today, market penetration for smartphones is over 50 percent in the United States. Almost 40 percent of Internet use is via mobile devices and the number of people who go online only through their smartphones or tablets is growing. On a global scale, a huge number of new users are being introduced to the Internet for the first time through mobile devices.
Enterprises can't ignore the trend
All this data adds up to a near-certainty: businesses that want to thrive in the next decade must start shifting their focus to mobile now. They also have to start thinking beyond internal users and BYOD. The new enterprise mobile market is much bigger than just employees. According to David Hurwitz, SVP of Worldwide Marketing at Serena Software, "What we're seeing today is that so many of these applications go through the four walls of the enterprise and are literally customer facing. That's no surprise; every one of us banks on our phone now and checks in at a kiosk in the airport. These apps bring in revenue or fundamentally enable the customer relationship. These apps are intrinsically tied to the business."
Put your money where your mobile is, and vice versa
Obviously, it's not enough to just web-enable legacy apps to be served up via a browser. That mobile last model is on the way out. Tyler Jewell, CEO and founder of Codenvy, shares his view that big business is already making the switch. "It's really obvious to us that enterprises are moving toward a mobile first strategy. Whatever application you are going to build, the thought process is now to build it for mobile first. You just make sure that sure that there is a web strategy, command-line and API strategy alongside it."
Successful companies must innovate with new mobile applications to drive revenue and gain a competitive edge. This next generation of enterprise apps will most likely use a hybrid of HTML5 and native code. It's an approach that's already being refined by the largest mobile development pioneers like Amazon. Hybridization will give enterprises the ability to leverage device capabilities and meet user expectations for a highly responsive UI while still retaining many of the benefits of web-based mobile app design. For example, code reuse and ease of maintenance in the hybrid model that incorporates HTML5 will support tandem web and mobile strategies.
Jewell points out that developing mobile apps requires a lot of additional development and accompanying tooling throughout the ALM. Specialized APIs, app libraries, and emulators for client-side debugging will supplement the traditional need for effective build systems and quick JSP runtime in the development environment. There are many new solutions emerging to meet enterprise needs in this space. This includes HTML5-only solutions like MEAP and Tibco's Silver Mobile as well as solutions that support hybrid development. Here are a few to watch:
An IBM mobile development lifecycle solution
This solution, which includes the Rational Application Developer family of tools, is designed to offer teams a common development workbench to code, build, and test mobile, web and hybrid apps. According to IBM's whitepaper A Mobile Application Development Primer, the solution allows enterprises to:
- Integrate first for improved economic governance of the mobile app project
- Ensure traceability of requirements to tests that verify those requirements
With the Worklight Server adapters that extend enterprise resources as mobile-consumable services and the Rational Quality Manager that can be connected to device clouds for on-device testing, this solution will definitely be a contender.
HP application transformation
As the name suggests, HP is currently focusing on transforming how enterprises do app development. It's not likely to be on the forefront of innovation, but may serve as an important bridge for helping enterprises currently partnered with HP transition to mobile first. This suite of products is designed to:
- Mobilize existing enterprise apps and integrate existing mobile apps with enterprise data
- Support the development of new mobile apps (and trace all activities with Application Lifecycle Intelligence)
- Automate testing of new apps (with help from the new Perfecto Mobile cloud service)
- Extend app project management to mobile via HP Quality Center and BPT
The SAP mobile platform (and a whole lot more)
SAP made headlines in 2012 when it landed in the coveted "Leader" spot in Gartner's Magic Quadrant for mobile application development platforms. That was even before it completed the acquisition of Syclo (one of the other two leaders). While the SAP suite is focused heavily on HTML5 to allow enterprises to make use of existing in-house skills, the firm has connected and integrated with other vendors such as Sencha to enable hybrid app development as well. This ecosystem approach is one we'll probably see with other vendors as well in a kind of meta-hybridization of the mobile ALM.