Companies are beginning to look at mobile applications as drivers of strategic business transformation, and increasingly see the cloud as the enabler. The top four technological priorities for companies over the coming year are mobile and cloud related — from cloud-based services to mobile security, mobile cloud services and mobile productivity apps.
Yankee Group’s IT Decision-Maker March 2013 survey backs this up:
- 50% of companies will be increasing their budgets this year for mobile apps, and 34% plan to develop 10 or more apps.
- 37% of companies see mobile access to their corporate database as a strategic importance to their organization and 23% regard mobile CRM likewise.
- 88% of companies believe cloud computing will play a significant role in their IT infrastructure
- 58% strongly believe that SaaS will become the preferred approach for deploying applications in their organization in the future.
A combination of factors is leading companies to look at an emerging cloud model for their mobile apps. They are looking beyond lightweight apps to more complex ones potentially requiring greater backend integration. They want address the accelerating innovation, and, in particular, the deployment time for greater competitive differentiation.
Companies area also focusing resources on optimizing the front-end user experience to encourage adoption, rather than having them absorbed on server-side engineering and using tools to more effectively utilize the scarcity of available skills in mobile development.
MBaaS Flattens the Stack
In response to these challenges, over the past few years a category of mobile backend-as-a-service (MBaaS) providers has emerged. These distributed infrastructures draw on modular cloud services from data storage to mobility management tools, analytics, file sync and share, authentication and user management, push notifications and location services.
In so doing they remove much of the backend server complexity by flattening and modularizing the technology stack. MBaaS is set to transform the application lifecycle allowing business to take a more strategic mindset when it comes to their mobile strategy. Some of the key benefits include:
- Efficiency: Moving server-side logic to the cloud reduces complexity, shortens the time to deployment and allows more time spent on optimizing the client experience.
- Scalability: By providing a way to more quickly onboard new users, scale data storage, provide distributed user access and integrate cloud services, apps can be scaled more quickly and easily.
- Configurability: The flexibility of a cloud backend with connection to multiple web services reduces traditional app integration complexity and accelerates the mobilization of critical business data locked in enterprise systems.
- Agility: By offering open technology stacks, access to preconfigured web services, scalable architectures and per-user pricing, MBaaS can turn CAPEX into OPEX.
- Cost-effectiveness: By reducing the need for a traditional technology stack – undertaking server-side coding and server configuration, optimizing performance and scaling resources - MBaaS can be more cost-effective than than resourcing traditional server-side engineering.
Although still a nascent overall market, MBaaS stands to transform the enterprise mobile application paradigm. However as with all emerging technologies, care must be taken in procuring the right solution.
To find the right fit for your enterprise evaluate MBaaS providers carefully. Not all offer the same enterprise-grade features, and you need to ensure that security capabilities aligns with governance requirements.
It is also best to enhance — not to replace — existing tools. Make sure that MBaaS can integrate with existing tools such as testing, access control and authentication systems, rather than looking for it to replace services completely.
You should also look to keep the IP you have invested in your applications, backend servers and data connections transportable from the platform if needed.