Developing apps for the mobile cloud: What you need to know

There are a lot of moving pieces; here's how to be prepared.

What's expanding at the same blistering rate as your company's mobile workforce? How about the demands those users are making for a software experience that rivals the one they get on a desktop?

For many companies, a private cloud is the answer. But if you decide to power your mobile workforce centrally with a private cloud, your mobile applications need to be developed with that infrastructure in mind.

Several factors are in play here, especially if you want applications that can work on all mobile devices, desktops and notebooks. What is required to get existing applications to work with mobile devices when the apps are running remotely on a cloud? How do you resolve the problem of fitting data from an application designed for the desktop onto the smaller mobile device screen? Should you develop for mobile devices first, and only then port to notebooks and laptops?

Tony Iams, senior vice president at Ideas International Ltd., a computer-systems research consultancy, says it is important to determine what part of the application's state -- the code and/or data itself -- is being moved up to the cloud from the mobile device. "Moving state to the cloud gives you back-end manageability benefits because you do not have to maintain that state on the mobile device," he says. In other words, all changes or application updates are made centrally.

Eric Miller
"We have to be able to interact, have good functionality and almost seamless interconnectivity once connected," says Eric Miller, senior vice president of IT and CIO at Erie Insurance.

Mobile cloud computing means that the processing of applications -- and the storage and retrieval of data -- are being performed by a cloud-based infrastructure. It results in a TCO savings because IT staffers don't need to spend time updating individual devices -- the client software environment is running on a server in the cloud, and making changes there ensures they show up on every client.

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