IBM Extends Mobile Application Development Reach into the Cloud

IBM has moved to bolster its mobile computing initiative via new extensions to its Mobile First Application Development Portfolio, while at the same time opening 18 IBM MobileFirst studio locations where IBM will help developers build mobile computing applications.

Announced at the IBM Impact 2014 conference, the cloud extensions encompass the Integration between the IBM Worklight mobile application development Platform running on an IBM cloud or on premise and the BlueMix integration service IBM announced earlier this year and the Cloudant NoSQL database-as-a-service that IBM also acquired earlier this year.

Marie Wieck, general manager for IBM MobileFirst says the integration of the two cloud services with the IBM mobile application development platform is to be expected, given the symbiotic relationship between mobile and cloud computing.

IBM Worklight, which via various SDKs supports both native and hybrid development models, has now also been extended to include support for the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) protocol for mobile e-commerce applications.
In addition, IBM announced IBM Ready Apps, a suite of industry-specific, pre-configured apps that customers can customize as they see fit using built-in integration tools and a variety of APIs.

The new IBM MobileFirst studios are located in Atlanta, Georgia; Austin, Texas; Bangalore, India; Beijing, China; Boston, Mass.; Chicago, Ill.; Dallas, Texas; Ehningen, Germany; Groningen, Netherlands; La Gaude, France; London, UK; Melbourne, Australia; Mexico City, Mexico; New York City, NY; Sao Paolo, Brazil; Shanghai, China; Tokyo, Japan; and Toronto, Canada.

While there is no shortage of mobile application development platforms, IBM is making a case for Worklight to be the preferred platform for developers in large part because of the company’s extensive history of building transaction processing applications on back end systems. IBM is now trying to extend that capability into the cloud by making those backend services available via API calls that will be exposed via its BlueMix cloud integration service.

Wieck says that the average mobile application these days has a half dozen APIs in it that link to multiple backend systems. The challenge customers face today, says Wieck, go well beyond simply building the application. Mobile applications are transforming entire business processes in a way that requires IBM consulting expertise. Otherwise, most organizations wind up building a mobile application that no one inside or out of the organization winds up using.

For that very reason IBM now bundles IBM Worklight and the rest of the IBM Mobile First platform with the Fiberlink MaaS360 mobile device management and the Trusteer e-commerce software it acquired last year.

The degree to which IBM can extend its enterprise reach into the realm of mobile computing remains to be seen. But no matter what the development environment used to create the mobile application chances are good is that at some point it’s going to need to access a service that is based on an application running on an IBM system somewhere.

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