Dan's Take

Untangling the World of Mobile Device Management

AnyPresence believes it has a solution with its Mobile Backend-as-a-Service.

Richard Mendis, CMO and Co-founder of AnyPresence, came by to talk about the challenges enterprises face when trying to offer access to applications and data through devices owned by customers and staff members.

He believes that his company has developed a set of tools, runtime environments and a "Mobile Backend-as-a-Service" (MBaaS) offering that can address the challenges and simplify enterprise mobile strategies.

Mendis pointed out that enterprises that attempt to create a simple, unified strategy to provide customer-facing mobile applications find that these projects can quickly turn into complex undertakings that require quite a number of different types of expertise and could turn into endless projects.

The mobile universe is quite complex today. Individuals select their own favorite devices and expect everyone to offer support. For an enterprise's IT organization, this can mean facing an endless regression of developing applications for iOS, Android and Windows, then testing them on everything in sight. Before all of the testing can be completed, suppliers often replace current devices with something else, and the process has to start all over again.

AnyPresence suggests that segmenting the problem in the right way can result a much easier solution. The company would suggest that enterprises need a set of tools and services that address different parts of the problem in standard ways.

Dan's Take: Demands of mobile devices create challenges for Enterprise IT
Mendis brought up many of the concerns I've heard when speaking with Kusnetzky Group clients. Enterprises, after all, are typically not in the business of writing mobile applications; mobile applications are just a tool to create greater customer engagement, improve customer satisfaction, and, they hope, increase revenues.

Few enterprises are really prepared to deal with an ever-changing world of mobile devices, operating systems and security challenges, along with the requirements of their business.

A number of approaches have been tried, and they've all created some thorny problems. Here are a few I hear about the most:

  • Lack of mobile support. This option is increasingly seen as a way to fail in the market. Customers increasingly demand mobile access to catalogs, sales materials, order tracking, product support and so on, and will go elsewhere if a company doesn't address those needs.
  • Picking a few leading devices and then develop applications just for them. This approach will, in the end, anger almost everyone. Rather than thinking about the enterprise's products and services, the focus will be on "why didn't they support my phone or tablet?"
  • Offer a Web site designed to support access to enterprise applications and data based upon the limited capabilities of mobile browsers. This means that only a limited selection of the features of the enterprise applications can be made available. This is because they were designed to be accessed from the much more rich computing environments offered by PC operating systems.

I like the notion of providing separate toolkits, example code and assistance to create thin applications for all major devices; networking tools to help make communications with these devices safe, standard and secure; backend services that address typical communications and security issues; and finally, a set of tools allowing enterprise applications to present a robust set of APIs for development, even if the original developers didn't provide such tools.

AnyPresence appears to be offering a well thought out, well accepted (visit the company's site to view their list of enterprise customers) and useful set of tools. Their challenge is that there are many other suppliers offering similar sets of tools. AnyPresence needs to be very creative in reaching out to prospects to get through all the noise and convince them that while there are many different approaches to developing and supporting mobile applications, AnyPresence's approach is the best.

It's a difficult challenge, but it's clear that AnyPresence's tools and approach should be considered.

About the Author

Daniel Kusnetzky, a reformed software engineer and product manager, founded Kusnetzky Group LLC in 2006. He's literally written the book on virtualization and often comments on cloud computing, mobility and systems software. He has been a business unit manager at a hardware company and head of corporate marketing and strategy at a software company.


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