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Oracle mobile app development tools put their stake in the market

Oracle Mobile Cloud Service, designed to let developers build apps without writing code, has helped the software vendor catch up to enterprise mobility competitors.

Oracle has stepped up its mobile development offerings, putting the company within striking distance of others in the industry.

Not typically known for its mobility products, Oracle previously only offered development tools for Java, but the company has expanded the languages it supports over the past year. Last month, Oracle Mobile Cloud Services (MCS) earned the company a spot in the middle of the pack in Gartner's Magic Quadrant for mobile application development. But Oracle is still new to the market, and it will need to continue to receive high praise from customers to be viewed as one of the leaders, said Van Baker, research vice president of mobility at Gartner.

"Oracle has actually caught up with the rest of the guys," Baker said. "The reason they are in the middle of the pack is primarily because those changes were very recent. We didn't give as much credit."

The MCS development suite, released in June 2015, gives Oracle a full portfolio of dev tools for multiple programming languages in addition to codeless rapid mobile application development (RMAD). But it still lags behind the top app development vendors, including IBM, Kony and Salesforce, according to Gartner.

Prior to MCS, Oracle offered its Mobile Application Framework (MAF) development platform, which only supported Java. Now, MAF is part of the MCS suite, which also supports HTML5 and JavaScript. MAF can save developers time by letting them write code once for multiple mobile operating systems.

"JavaScript is the most widely used programming language," Baker said. "They didn't have a whole portfolio of tools to compete, but now they do."

With Oracle Mobile Cloud Service, the company looks to compete with vendors such as Microsoft, IBM and Kony, but its competitors have a head start in the app development market, said Jack Narcotta, senior analyst at Technology Business Research in Hampton, N.H.

"There are companies with greater name and brand recognition in this market," he said.

This is Oracle putting their stake in the ground.
Jack Narcottasenior analyst, Technology Business Research

Oracle made its name in database management software, and that continues to be its focus. But companies with similar backgrounds, such as SAP, have had success in enterprise mobility, and Oracle could too, Narcotta added.

"This is Oracle putting their stake in the ground in the enterprise mobility game," he said.

What Oracle MCS offers

One of the biggest features of MCS is an RMAD tool called Mobile Application Accelerator (MAX), which provides a step-by-step process to build apps without writing any code. The software presents developers with options to configure the front-end look of an application and a catalog to select APIs for the appropriate back-end services. Since it is built on top of MAF, developers building a single codeless app with MAX can deploy it to multiple operating systems, including iOS, Android and Windows.

Oracle Mobile Cloud Service 2.0, released in May, added a location awareness feature that developers can implement in apps. Developers took advantage of this tool for multiple mobile apps at AW Rostamani Group, a conglomerate based in Dubai that oversees 14 businesses in automotive, real estate and other industries. The company, which sells roughly 60,000 cars per year across 72 locations, built apps using the geolocation feature to track the location of all their vehicles and easily find specific vehicles on their lots.

"Whenever someone requests a car, we have to go by a specific [vehicle identification] number, so finding it is not easy without the apps," said Sebastian Samuel, CIO at AW Rostamani Group.

Additionally, mobile apps the company built with MCS can track the locations of sales and service reps, and measure how much time they spend with customers. They can collect data, such as information pertaining to sales and leads, and organize them into plots, graphs and more. In the near future, AW Rostamani looks to build more apps to eliminate paper processes, including building human resources-related apps for expense reports and work visas.

"We want to conduct our business processes through applications, and even eliminate email in order to improve efficiency and productivity," Samuel said.

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