Where the IBM MobileFirst Platform is heading next

The IBM MobileFirst Platform now integrates with Cloudant's database as a service and helps developers build more transformative apps.

LAS VEGAS -- The IBM MobileFirst Platform includes enterprise mobility management, app development and backend services, but putting these components together is still a challenge for enterprise IT.

IBM has taken steps to simplify the process. The company recently divided MobileFirst into four modules, so customers can purchase and deploy specific capabilities if they don't need the full suite. Several of these modules include new features.

The Presence Insights module, for example, allows developers to build context-aware apps, which change behavior based on the user's location and surroundings. And the Enrich with Data module integrates with Cloudant, IBM's database as a service. Through Cloudant, developers can build mobile apps that access data from internal corporate systems, or from cloud-based, API-driven external sources.

Phil Buckellew, vice president of IBM MobileFirst, discussed these developments and more at the IBM InterConnect conference last week. Here's what he had to say:

On the IBM MobileFirst Platform modules:

"We wanted to make sure that people didn't feel like they had to start from scratch and build everything brand new to get the benefits of the portfolio. By making it modular, it's easier for people to … pull in only what they need and pay for only what they need. By breaking it up that way, it makes it easier for people to consume."

On MobileFirst's integration with Cloudant:

"That is a really important improvement for a number of reasons. One is, people … want to scale, and they don't want to spend their time managing all that data. They just want IBM to handle the data. That allows them to have a much richer experience, because you can blend content from lots of different sources: from cloud-based services, from your enterprise backend, from all these Internet of Things types of devices."

On the context-aware app development capabilities:

"People have built a lot of different apps, but they want them to do more. They want them to act differently based upon where you are: in a campus location or in a store. Presence Insights effectively hooks into beacons, Wi-Fi access points, other sensors. And that will allow developers to build apps that can sense where you are and therefore act differently."

On using mobile device management for laptops, a feature of the MobileFirst Secure module:

"It depends on what the company is trying to do. Obviously, a lot of clients need the full-featured capability of being able to do patch management, a lot of the features that are in IBM Endpoint Manager. Some organizations can take a more lightweight approach, and they like the notion of using the MDM API-style way of managing laptops."

On IBM's enterprise mobility partnership with Apple:

"There's been great interest across the industry. Any forward-looking client realizes you can use [iOS devices] to be able to recreate their business process."

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