Mobile Enterprise Application Platforms

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Mobile Enterprise
Application Platforms

by Geoff Keston

Docid: 00021050

Publication Date: 2102

Report Type: TUTORIAL


As the demand for enterprise mobility tools continues to skyrocket, IT
managers and business process stakeholders are confronting a new reality.
Developing mobile apps, while challenging, is only the beginning of
implementing a comprehensive enterprise mobility strategy. A key to
supporting a mobile workforce is consolidating all aspects of application
lifecycle management. Mobile enterprise application platforms simplify
this increasingly difficult task.

Report Contents:

Executive Summary

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Enterprises are using mobile devices for an increasingly large and
diverse range of business functions.

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This growth has given rise to greater demand for enterprise mobile apps,
with the development of mobile apps outpacing the development of desktop
applications. The runaway proliferation of mobile business tools and the
diversity of devices combine to make managing, updating, and securing apps
difficult. Increasingly, enterprises are looking for end-to-end app
lifecycle management solutions, known as mobile enterprise application

There are many vendors in this very crowded market, including large
companies such as Amazon, IBM, and SAP and specialty providers such as
Pegasystems and Temenos. But in addition to the comprehensive platforms
offered by these and other companies, a healthy, innovative market
continues to thrive for standalone and special purpose app development
tools. These standalone products target and optimize specific devices and
mobile operating systems. Over the past several years, cloud-based app
development platforms have emerged, and this approach continues to become
much more popular.

In the next few years, the mobile app market will further grow and
diversify, as the Internet of Things, 5G, and other trends continue to
reshape the technology landscape. For the quickly growing number of
enterprises whose employees use mobile apps, a key focus will be how to
secure devices and data.


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The past several years have seen radical growth and diversification in
the use of mobile technology. The mobile workforce is increasingly
dependent on a variety of phones, tablets, and ultra-portable notebooks. A
February 2020 estimate identified 8.93 million mobile apps globally, with
China accounting for 40-percent of spending.1 (This is a steep
increase from a 2016 estimate from a different organization that
identified 2 million apps.2) The worldwide market for mobile
apps is forecast to continue growing at a compound rate of 11.5-percent
until 2027.3

The past few years have also seen a massive increase in mobile ecosystem
complexity. This increase has brought about a sea change in enterprise IT
thinking: Many companies now let employees use personal mobile devices to
access enterprise data and applications, a trend called “bring your own
device (BYOD).” Organizations that have a BYOD program must manage,
synchronize, and secure a diverse app portfolio.

Mobile enterprise application platforms (MEAPs) help developers to
create, deploy, and manage apps. These platforms give developers an
environment in which to create applications and tools to manage the
software. MEAPs
also help organizations to create, deploy, manage, update, and secure an
entire mobile application portfolio. Many products provide a single
dashboard to perform all of these tasks. High-end MEAPs protect mobile
applications by using app container technologies or cross compilers that
allow developers to separate the code that implements business logic from
the code that is specific to a vendor’s platform. This approach can
provide a good user experience and ensure that data management and
security are applied consistently across all devices.

Increasingly, many MEAPs are “low code,” enabling users to manipulate
graphical interfaces and other tools that don’t require direct coding.

Current View

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The Rise of Cloud-Based MEAPs

An increasing number of MEAPs are cloud-based. Many of the traditional
leaders in the market have introduced versions of their platforms offered
as a service across the cloud, and other vendors, like Salesforce, have
entered the market by focusing on cloud delivery.

Cloud-based MEAPs offer the following advantages:

  • Contains Costs – Cloud-based MEAPs have a low cost of entry, with
    little, if any, upfront investment needed in hardware and software. They
    also have a good ROI.
  • Supports Big Data Business Intelligence – The cloud is an effective
    platform for rapidly synthesizing business intelligence. Business
    analytics and simulations based on Big Data technologies are expected to
    soon become competitive determinants. A MEAP can tie the various
    elements of such solutions together and ensuring that users see
    consistent, current information.
  • Protects Data – Cloud-based MEAPs make data and software easier to
    recover in the event of a disaster. They also make data highly available
    and rapidly scalable.
  • Provides Flexibility and Scalability for Mobility App Developers – A
    cloud-based toolset allows developers to keep many options open without
    significant extra investment. It also means that tools and
    infrastructure can rapidly scale upward if necessary.

The Product Landscape

For the past several years, the mobile app market has been shaped in part by
the development of mobile devices. A significant factor is that such devices
have grown more varied, with new form factors, from watches to hybrid
tablets, frequently being released.4 This growing variety of
mobile devices means that apps must be developed for many types of devices,
with different functionality.5

The market has moved toward more comprehensive MEAPs, with larger
companies entering the field through their own product launches or through
acquisitions. These acquisitions have led to larger applications that
integrate more features. The leading comprehensive platforms are the

  • Amazon Web Services Mobile
  • Adobe Systems Experience Manager Apps and PhoneGap
  • IBM MobileFirst Platform Developer Edition
  • jQuery Mobile
  • Mendix Low-Code Platform
  • Microsoft Azure App Service
  • Oracle Mobile Platform
  • Pegasystems Pega Platform
  • Red Hat Mobile Application Platform
  • SAP Mobile Platform
  • Salesforce App Cloud
  • Temenos (formerly Kony) Fabric
  • Xamarin Platform

But smaller, standalone app development frameworks will likely continue to
be used because of their performance and features. That is, standalone
mobile app frameworks take advantage of the specific features of individual
platforms. Below is an overview of standalone mobile application
frameworks, grouped by technology.

iOS Frameworks

  • RestKit is a framework, based on Objective C, for creating
    RESTful (Representational State Transfer ) applications on iOS ( the
    iPhone and iPad OS) and on MAC OS X . In addition to the fact that
    RestKit apps scale across the spectrum of Apple devices, this framework
    offers developers significant productivity and advantages related to
    robustness. RestKit abstracts all the work of sending, receiving, and
    processing HTTP requests and building representations of remote
    resources. It allows app developers to work at a fairly high level,
    concentrating solely on their own app’s data model. 
  • DHTMLX Touch is a Javascript mobile framework for creating HTML5
    apps running in Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, and Internet
    Explorer browsers. DHTMLX Touch includes powerful tools for
    developing and testing application “skins,” the app’s visual appearance.
    DHTMLX apps developed for mobile devices can also run on typical desktop
    browsers. This framework is easily embedded in most popular integrated
    development environments, including Microsoft Visual Studio, Eclipse,
    NetBeans, WebStorm, and others.
  • Titanium Mobile, a product from Appcelerator, targets
    iPhone, iPad, and Android devices with a cross platform application
    framework that has more than 300 APIs. Titanium apps are built as
    native app versions, which allows apps to access the full feature set
    and capability of a given device. Titanium supports RESTful app
    development, HTML5, and CSS. It also provides the opportunity for
    customization and extensibility by allowing modules coded in Java or
    Objective C to be called from Javascript.
  • Sencha Ext JS is a framework that supports Apple iOS, Android, and
    Blackberry mobile devices, accounting for a very large portion of the US
    smartphone installed base. Sencha Ext JS supplies infrastructure to
    handle a comprehensive variety of touch events and integrates easily
    with the PhoneGap framework. This framework also provides
    implementations of a variety of user-interface amenities like
    interactive charts and sophisticated theming support. (Sencha Touch has
    been integrated into Ext JS. It can still be downloaded but is no longer

Mobile Content Publishing Frameworks

  • Baker Framework is an HTML5 framework for publishing interactive
    magazines and e-books to iPhone and iPad devices using the HPub 1.0
    e-book format. It allows portrait or landscape compositions, but the
    HTML pages must be authored in an HTML editor.
  • Magazine Grid is a CSS/HTML5 framework for creating magazine
    publications targeting iPhone and iPad devices. Magazine Grid is a very
    spare platform, coming in at only 4kB, so it has little appreciable
    impact on load times for content it packages.


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In the near future, the mobile app landscape is likely to continue
evolving as it has the past few years, with a wider range of apps being
put to more critical uses, and with new types of hardware being released.
In particular, trends are likely to continue shifting quickly and
significantly toward the use of cloud apps. Mobile apps are relatively
small in scale, and flexibility is a major advantage in developing them.
These characteristics are well-suited for creating cloud apps, and vendors
are increasingly offering this option, so this approach could be poised
for a boom.

Another development shaping today’s mobile app technology and marketplace
is the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT), which is the
interconnectivity of objects that sense, control, or provide remote
intervention capabilities: traffic cameras, industrial telemetry, surgical
tools, and many similar devices. The “software and services” segment is
the largest part of the IoT market, and it is forecast to reach $226
million in 2023, up from $143 million in 2020.7

The growing use of 5G, the latest and by far fastest protocol for mobile
communication, will enable the creation of apps that take advantage of
much greater speed and lower latency. New app features are likely to
emerge. Finally, foldable phones are now available. For the moment, they
are too expensive8 to have a significant impact. But costs will
diminish, potentially making the devices popular. Apps must be redesigned
somewhat to work with, and take full advantage of, foldable devices, so
software developers are being pressured to begin working on changes now.9

Further into the future, the app marketplace and technology may evolve in
some ways that are not familiar today. Apps may be delivered in new ways or
have different core functionality, and the growth and expanding diversity of
the market may recede. All of these potential futures could affect how
mobile apps are developed and managed.


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Enterprises should formulate policies now for the management and
security of mobile applications.
Because they run on small,
personal devices, there is a tendency to view mobile apps as being almost
toy-like and to take them less seriously than other enterprise apps. This
is a naïve and dangerous posture. Mobile apps can give intruders
opportunities to co-opt data, assets, and networks simply because they
introduce many additional points of vulnerability: The device itself, data
stored on the device, data transmitted in clear text from the device, and
altered data uploaded from the device all present considerable
opportunities for hackers.

One of the key challenges for IT departments supporting mobile
business processes is managing for security and recoverability.
developers have less day-to-day control over the apps they deploy and the
devices that run them, but they must confront more risks in terms of
implementing security. Enterprises should establish multi-disciplinary
teams of IT infrastructure managers, network security professionals, and
mobile app developers to create and implement mobile device security
policies. Reviewing them annually to evaluate compliance is important.

It is important to design both business process and consumer
facing apps with solid security and privacy strategies at the foundation
layer of the mobile app technology stack.
Essentially, this new
reality puts developers into a de facto partnership with IT professionals
responsible for managing and provisioning enterprise devices. At a
minimum, enterprise app developers and IT managers need to collaboratively
ensure that mobile business processes can be backstopped with some key
device and data management safeguards:

  • Remote device wipe – If a user device is reported lost or stolen,
    tools should be in place to remotely clean proprietary data from it.
  • Over the air configuring and provisioning – Enterprise app updates and
    device configuration must be able to be initiated, managed, and tracked
    from the data center, without any requirement for intervention or
    collaboration by the device holder.
  • Storage encryption – Locally stored files should be automatically
    encrypted to prevent unauthorized distribution of information by device
    holders and to protect them in case the device is lost, stolen, or
  • Transmission encryption – Support for encrypted data transmission
    should be fully implemented.
  • Two factor authorization for device access – Apps that provide access
    to very sensitive assets should have extra layers of user accreditation
    in place with devices like RSA keys or biometric ID.

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About the Author

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Geoff Keston is the author of more than 250 articles
that help organizations find opportunities in business trends and
technology. He also works directly with clients to develop communications
strategies that improve processes and customer relationships. Mr. Keston
has worked as a project manager for a major technology consulting and
services company and is a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer and a
Certified Novell Administrator.

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