Enterprises and the Mobile Cloud – Key Issues

For the enterprise, based on our interviews and other research, a number of issues emerge. We are interested in issues that are distinct for organizations whether they be corporations, government agencies or other large institutions. Obviously the issues affecting Personal Clouds will be of concern to enterprises and their users as well.

The enterprise area presents the most complex issues in the rise of the Mobile Cloud. In many respects the issues for Mobile Cloud in the enterprise area revolve around the changing relationship between major entities’ IT departments, traditionally very strong and powerful, and business units and users within the organization, in which the emergence of mobile is an increasingly pressing new factor. We discuss these broad, generic, structural issues for enterprises below. First, we focus on the specific issues that mobile cloud provider companies have identified to us in interviews.

Enterprise mobile cloud development encompasses a wide range of aspects, including:

  • Content Management
  • Collaboration Tools
  • Mobile Applications Development Platforms
  • Mobile Applications That Deliver Legacy Platform Data and Analysis
  • Mobile Device Management
  • Mobile Applications Management

Some of the major questions raised for enterprises and other large organizations (e.g., government) include:

  1. What applications should be available for usage on mobiles;
  2. Who, among the organization’s personnel, are authorized to use the applications on mobiles;
  3. How does the organization keep track of the mobiles that are on its system;
  4. How does the organization go about making it easy for applications and data to be used on the mobiles;
  5. Are there capabilities that the organization needs to address that are truly “mobile” capabilities, beyond providing easy access to its non-mobile, or legacy capabilities and data.

The companies addressing these issues include virtually all the major legacy enterprise IT suppliers as well as a raft of younger entrants.

Every provider we have spoken with identified the “do-it-yourself” issue as the leading issue in this space. IT departments in many, probably most, cases appear to believe they can deal with the issues of developing tools and creating mobile apps and platforms themselves, whether in a cloud environment or simply inhouse. This is the biggest issue for Providers of Mobile Cloud tools and capabilities. Enterprises, meaning primarily IT departments are described as being “at an early stage” of dealing with mobile, or as having very dispersed and poorly supervised efforts, or even as being reactionary.

The second most often identified issue is Integration. Since there are deeply established legacy database and software systems in these institutions (SAP, Oracle, proprietary etc.) the mobile platforms and apps must be integrated with these systems. If we look forward to a world in which, before long, most of an institution’s users will be on mobile devices, this is not simply an integration problem, but may eventually involve a major overhaul of basic IT frameworks and practices, i.e., it is a fact that even the SAPs and Oracles feel that Mobile Cloud is a challenge and could be a threat.

The enterprise area puts an emphasis on the management of mobiles, as they are often a scattered fleet or mélange of devices. Management systems raise the issues of security and policies, e.g., who can get access to what levels of cloud apps and information and what is done to protect the priorities set by management.

From the enterprise User perspective, the Integration issue shows up as the issue of Access to legacy systems. This must typically be provided across a range of device models and OSs and a range of different device types.

The issue of Business versus Personal Use is not merely an enterprise issue. This issue – Dual or Multiple Personas – can apply to any, or even all, users. In this area we expect early stage solutions that will be driven by device software, virtualization type offerings and by mobile device management policies, trying to define rules about personal and business use. We expect enormous pressure to solve this issue in the enterprise sphere and it may take various stages and technology developments to fully accomplish.