Looking to give solution providers a leg up in the mobile computing market that is expected to grow from $22 billion in 2012 to $36 billion by 2015, IBM today rolled out Mobile Foundation, a portfolio of IBM mobile computing technologies that are designed to simplify the management of mobile computing and applications in the enterprise.
Announced at the IBM Impact 2012 conference today, Mobile Foundation combines technologies that include the Eclipse-based Worklight application development environment IBM recently acquired along with elements of IBM Endpoint Manager and IBM WebSphere Cast Iron application integration software. In addition, IBM has enhanced its line of DataPower middleware appliances to better support mobile computing devices.
While there is clearly a market for custom mobile computing applications that are developed from the ground up, Marie Wieck, general manager for IBM application and integration middleware, says the bulk of the market is being driven by customers that want to extend their existing applications and processes out to mobile computing devices.
That similar to what solution providers first saw with the adoption of Web, where most companies initially focused on making their applications available via browsers. As part of an effort to accelerate the development of those applications IBM is also created an IBM Quick Win Pilot initiative, which is designed to help customers get their first mobile computing applications up and running in under 10 weeks.
In the case of IBM, the core middleware technology that is being positioned as the glue for all things mobile is IBM WebSphere Application Server, which IBM updated this week in a way that makes the IBM middleware platform significantly faster.
Wieck says that rise of mobile computing is requiring IT organizations to put levels of infrastructure in place that allow them to respond to mobile computing application in real time regardless of where they are being used or the time of day. Increasingly, that will mean moving many of those functions to cloud computing platforms that are really just part of the same continuum given the fact that mobile computing devices are generally dependent on services delivered via the cloud.
Mobile computing applications represent a major opportunity for the channel in terms of both development and security. The challenge is first deciding what type of application development environment to use and then acquiring the skills needed to master them. In fact, a recent survey indicates that most mobile computing applications are relatively simple at this point in time. While most developers are committed to using both native environments and HTML5 to create their applications, very few of them have mastered more advanced social networking technologies.
While Apple currently dominates the mobile computing market, it’s clear that there will be a multitude of platforms that need to be supported. That should create a significant opportunity for the channel for years to come that goes well beyond the actual selling of the devices themselves.