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Rise of BYOD: Using MBaaS to meet demand for enterprise mobile apps

Cloud services platform MBaaS may hold the key to architects meeting the rising need for mobile apps for the workplace.

Cell phone in hand

Increased demand for enterprise mobile applications is making Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS) the go-to cloud services platform for speeding up mobile application development and deployment. Having a sound development MBaaS strategy in place will help organizations thrive with the technology, especially where the bring your own device (BYOD) trend is picking up steam.

"BYOD is on the rise, but so is the corporate-ownership of smartphones and tablets. MBaaS is agnostic to device ownership as it is more related to the way a server backend or middleware for mobile apps has to be deployed," said 451 Research Mobile Services Analyst Vishal Jain. "However, MBaaS proves as a catalyst because of the rising demand for apps as a result of use of these smartphones and tablets inside the enterprise."

Developing a strong deployment and management strategy with MBaaS may be key as BYOD becomes commonplace. "In a nutshell, MBaaS is a server side technology to power mobile apps," said, OpenMobster CEO Sohil Shah. "It is a said collection of services used to assist mobile apps to extract server side information. They can then build some really innovative solutions using this information."

Developing an MBaaS strategy

MBaaS proves as a catalyst because of the rising demand for apps as a result of use of these smartphones and tablets inside the enterprise.
Vishal Jain451 Research Mobile Services Analyst

While it is not essential for an organization to build its own mobile applications, there are some benefits to having a strategic plan to do so, according to Forrester Senior Analyst Michael Facemire. "There are plenty of agencies that are willing to help, but if the plan is to have double-digit app growth in the near term, I'd suggest quickly working on an overall corporate mobile strategy," he said. "Mobile isn't just a new front end, it's a full end-to-end change, so having an up-front strategy is critical."

Experts have several components they assert will help for smooth MBaaS deployment and management. Such recommendations include:

  • Customize technology for each use;
  • Take into account the deployment environment;
  • Remember development cost will be throughout the enterprise;
  • Don't be afraid to consult others with experience; and
  • Balance risk management rather than defend against it.

Trying to make a "one size fits all" MBaaS strategy is a common pitfall Jain has seen several organizations succumb to. "The problem is that when one of the apps gets successful within one arm of the enterprise, they try to copy that for other business lines," said Jain. "However, it may not work, as mobile apps can get fairly complex with the user requirement as well as with the kind of back end being exposed."

How organizations can thrive with MBaaS

MBaaS is a relatively young technology, but with time, Shah believes the marketplace will evolve into four types of MBaaS stacks: Open source, cloud, closed source and homegrown. Given the potential options, Shah said one important thing to be cognizant of is reusability.

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"You should be able to use the same MBaaS stack throughout all the apps in your organization," said Shah. "If you are doing a lot of back-end development for each app, you have made a mistake in picking an MBaaS solution or maybe should decide to not use one at all."

If an organization isn't already developing its own applications, Jain recommends it build a business case for it. Tim Panagos, Point.io CTO, concurred, noting how every enterprise likes to have its own applications. An organization can benefit from having its own applications, especially those where BYOD is part of the corporate culture.

"Where companies don't already have the capacity to build their own apps, I think what they need to do then is get ahead of the curve and say, 'How do we use MBaaS as a mechanism of preparing us for the ability to take apps off the app store that allow our employees to wander in with any apps they themselves have purchased off the app store. How do we make those apps work with our corporate infrastructure?'" said Panagos.

Maxine Giza is the associate site editor for SearchSOA.com and can be reached at mgiza@techtarget.com.

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This was first published in August 2013

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