Essential guide to mobile application platforms
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Oracle and Red Hat have each made new entries into the mobile market with MBaaS platforms that IT pros can use instead of third-party tools.
The Red Hat Mobile Application Platform includes technology acquired last year from mobile backend as a service (MBaaS) platform FeedHenry, as well as Red Hat's JBoss Middleware and OpenShift platform as a service portfolio.
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The new platform aids development, integration, deployment and management for enterprise mobile apps and includes collaboration features across teams, from front-end developers to back-end IT integration.
In addition to collaborative app development, the Red Hat Mobile Application Platform provides mobile capabilities such as security and reusable connections to backend systems.
Red Hat also entered into a new partnership with mobile giant Samsung to deliver enterprise mobile apps to the Red Hat Mobile Application Platform. A series of industry-specific, customizable Android mobile apps will be released to run on the platform. Tools for app developers and integrated support for the Red Hat Mobile Application Platform are also part of the partnership.
Having Red Hat's sales team and infrastructure behind the Red Hat Mobile Application Platform will be a big advantage that didn't exist for FeedHenry on its own, said Al Hilwa, program director for software development research at IDC in Framingham, Mass.
"The [FeedHenry] technology is being turned completely into open source, which aligns it with how Red Hat has successfully sold software," he said.
The Mobile Application Platform may be more important for Red Hat as more Internet of Things devices are used in enterprises, said Jack Gold, principal and analyst at J. Gold Associates LLC in Northborough, Mass.
"Without proper APIs and the ability to manage them, you'll be stuck with hundreds of platforms not being able to work with [the devices]," Gold said.
Bringing the backend infrastructure into OpenShift will also be a win-win for Red Hat and the Mobile Application Platform, Hilwa said.
"It gives Red Hat new avenues in enterprise mobile projects which are now a big driver of new initiatives," he said.
Jack Goldprincipal, J. Gold Associates LLC
The Red Hat platform is available as a managed, hosted cloud service. Pricing is based on a combination of the number of end users of the apps accessing the platform, the number of apps deployed and the resources assigned to the account.
A Red Hat spokesperson declined to give a specific starting price for the platform, but developers can get started with a free development trial, with apps made in the development trial not for production.
Oracle adds MBaaS for cloud
Oracle, meanwhile, has taken a different tack to attract customers to its mobility offerings. As part of its Oracle Cloud Platform, the Oracle Mobile Cloud Service (MCS) gives IT and mobile developers a new MBaaS option.
Developers can develop and deploy mobile apps and connect them to backend cloud or on-premises infrastructure using Oracle MCS. MCS includes several built-in APIs for app development including push notifications, analytics and mobile storage. Customers can also create their own APIs.
Oracle hasn't made as much of a name for itself in enterprise mobility as legacy software companies such as IBM and Microsoft have, and while the move to more cloud-based offerings isn't surprising, it may have difficulty gaining ground, Gold said.
"I'm skeptical on mobile because that has never been a factor for them," Gold said. "It used to be a small market and they focused on other things like Siebel for a long time."
Oracle said the mobile platform is a response to customer demand.
"Customers have always asked us what our mobile strategy is, even before we had one," said Chris Tonas, Oracle's vice president of mobility and development tools. "There was a clear demand out there. Customers looked to Oracle for these kinds of services."
MCS is engineered to expose secure REST APIs for access from any kind of client, mobile or otherwise, Tonas said.
Customers are not required to subscribe to other parts of the Oracle Cloud Platform to subscribe to MCS. MCS is priced on a per-interaction basis, with an interaction representing any API call or notification a mobile app processes. The starting price is $7,000 for a minimum of 1 million interactions per month.
Other MBaaS providers include Kinvey Inc., Kony Inc., AnyPresence Inc. and Appcelerator Inc.
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