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Mobile enterprise application delivery struggles to catch on

Refactoring, virtualization and other enterprise application delivery methods have a tough hill to climb in the age of Web and native mobile apps.

This article can also be found in the Premium Editorial Download: Modern Mobility: Enterprise wearables have a long way to go:

App refactoring, virtual mobile infrastructure and desktop virtualization all appear to be candidates to help IT administrators deliver traditional PC apps to users on their mobile devices.

The reality, according to Matt Kosht, an IT manager based in Alaska, is that none of them is really a viable option for large-scale mobile enterprise application delivery. App refactoring is not mature enough yet, and virtual mobile infrastructure (VMI) is very niche. Desktop and app virtualization on mobile devices can't hold a candle to what enterprise mobility management (EMM) tools can do, either.

Here, Kosht dishes on these enterprise application delivery techniques, including why most simply aren't practical despite a few potential use cases.

What does modern mobility mean to you?

Being able to get to your data wherever you happen to be.

What is the current state of app refactoring?

It's just one of those things that sounds awesome on paper, but the reality is pretty different. It's got some appeal with the one or two legacy apps you've got laying around that you really want to push out in the field and not have to completely rewrite. I don't know how much it's really going to result in the actual uptake of people saying, "I've got a 20-year-old app I want to make mobile." At that point, maybe it's just time to rewrite it.

What do you think is the best use case for app refactoring?

Matt KoshtMatt Kosht

A [desktop] app you've written in house [is] really important, and you want to get it out there without having to pay an iPhone or Android developer [to rewrite it as a mobile app].

The other one is … you've got this Windows app you'd like to put out there, and you only need a couple of [features] on it. You only need to take a sales order, [for example]. You literally just carve out the one thing you need and not the entire application.

What's the current state of virtual mobile infrastructure?

You ever see the movie Mean Girls? Remember how the queen bee says, stop trying to use that word, it's never going to be a thing? VMI is like that. It's a niche in a niche in a niche.

Just because you're remoting an Android [app] in the data center, it doesn't make it more secure. In fact, it might make it less secure because you're giving someone a direct path to your data center if you're not planning [app security] carefully.

What about Windows desktop and application virtualization on mobile devices?

The arguments for app virtualization on other platforms like Windows desktops are it's easier to deploy, there's less regression. That isn't really much of an issue on a mobile platform. Maybe Android, because there's a lot of fragmentation with the OS. But for the most part, apps are already running in containers on Android and iOS anyway. They're already effectively isolated from each other.

VMI is a niche in a niche in a niche.

As far as desktop virtualization … EMM has pretty much ended the need for that. You can pretty much isolate app by app now, and to me that's a lot more attractive than having to take the whole phone and draw a line down the middle of it and say, ‘here's your personal VM, and here's your work one.' I just don't see the appeal with EMM tools being at the mature level they are.

What is your favorite movie?

2001: A Space Odyssey, because a computer is one of the central characters.

What is the best dish you can cook?

I make a mean spaghetti and meatballs.

If you could travel one place in the world, where would you go?

Munich for Oktoberfest. Beer and food: Those are my hierarchy of needs. Beer, food and technology. I'll let you arrange them. 

This article originally appeared in the February issue of the Modern Mobility e-zine.

Next Steps

Consider these four options for delivering apps to mobile devices.

Should you use DaaS for Windows app delivery on mobile devices?

How you can develop a mobile strategy that will bring in results

This was last published in February 2016

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What is the best approach to mobile enterprise application delivery?
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I would be curious to learn what you Do think is a viable approach? Generally speaking, I believe that there are a portfolio of problems, that require a portolio of solutions. 

App refactoring works best when the use case is customized (i.e. there is no off the shelf solution that would work) and where the use case is similar on desktop and mobile. It is not restricted to legacy.

Off the shelp apps are great and abundant. They work best when processes are standardized.

Custom app development (whether native, HTML5, using some MEAP, etc.) is the most powerful and most costly solution, but it's a necessary solution where no other solutions work. For example when new mobile functionalities are required, or the mobile and desktop needs are very different.

There are other tools that allow the rapid creation of mobile apps for standalone use cases, that don't need to be connected or integrated to other systems (e.g. a checklist or survey app). They are great.

Other rapid development solutions are there to directly integrate into the database of standardized (or customized) systems, which are great when you just need (read and write) access to data, but don't need additional application logic.

Virtualization... yes - there probably is no need for that.

The one thing that will remain true no matter what, I believe, is that mobile development must be iterative and agile. Without that, any solution is DoA. It should be easy to make changes, fast to learn. This is because mobile comes 'on top of and in addition to' non-mobile IT needs, and let's face it: budgets were already shrinking before mobile came along.
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VMI vendors will certainly disagree with tis analysis. Can the author expand on his reasoning and/or provide some professional experience or credentials that will help validate his opinon?
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