Watching out for cloud washers: 5 ways to identify genuine cloud-based mobile app platforms

Following the announcement that HP is planning to invest $1billion in research and development into its HP Helion cloud service portfolio over the next two years, the enterprise world is looking distinctly cloudy.

Microsoft has followed up its Enterprise Mobility Suite announcement with a blog post reiterating its position as a cloud-first and mobile-first provider. As Microsoft corporate VP of program management, Brad Anderson, states, “Mobile and cloud are so tightly integrated, that delivering the premier enterprise mobility solution is best delivered from the cloud.” 

However, CIOs need to be wary of ‘cloud washers’, technology vendors that simply paste a cloud label onto existing services, without providing the agility, multi-tenancy and elasticity afforded by true cloud services.

Cloud washing is particularly prevalent in the mobile space, where legacy Mobile Enterprise Application Platform (MEAP) providers are clinging to the cloud bandwagon for survival. Even some mobile back end as a service (MBaaS) vendors, that position themselves as embracing cloud technologies, restrict customers to only using their cloud. This cloud lock-in runs counter to the requirements of mobile-first organisations that are trying to deliver transformative mobile strategies for their employees and customers.

RedMonk analyst, Donnie Berkholz has commented that app production is now becoming industrialised and enterprises need to find ways to speed up their app production. Providers that are not truly cloud-based will find it increasingly difficult to deliver the levels of app agility now required by enterprises.

VDC senior analyst Eric Klein has also stated: “A mobile-first approach needs to be underpinned by an open, agile cloud foundation, in order to reduce the time and effort required to develop and update apps to keep pace with business and technology developments and end-user expectations.”

>See also: The outside-in battle for the soul of the cloud

So how can CIOs spot the cloud washers to ensure that they select an app platform that enables them to be truly cloud and mobile-first? Here are five identifying characteristics of genuine cloud-based mobile application platforms.

1. A cloud-based mobile app platform should be able to be run in any cloud environment, whether public, private or hybrid

2. The mobile app platform should enable company-wide mobile agility

It should include support for collaborative app development that recognises the different internal and outsourced skills and roles that are involved in rolling out app projects across multiple departments. This collaborative approach facilitates greater reuse of components, such as common connectors to backend systems that are centralised in the cloud and available to frontend developers for self-discovery and reuse.

3. The mobile app platform needs to embrace an open architecture

It should respond quickly and easily to ongoing changes, supporting a future-proof, sustainable and agile mobile strategy. Many mobile platform providers offer black-box solutions, making them completely inscrutable and highly vulnerable to vendor lock-in.

4. Look for a secure cloud-based mobile platform that allows app development management, distribution, updates, access and revocation

Also providing visibility and control over data that is processed by apps in the cloud.

>See also: App, app and away: building an enterprise app store

5. App development is just a small fraction of an app’s overall lifecycle

A true cloud-based enterprise mobile app platform supports the development, testing, deployment, updating, and management of app projects throughout their complete lifecycle, from conception to expiration.

The combination of apps consumed on mobile clients and server-side technology in the cloud provides a neat model for CIOs to control data security and get the most out of legacy backend systems, while offering a really crisp, clean user experience on a wide variety of devices.

So CIOs should be wary of claims of cloud capabilities and expertise that are just cloud stickers. Make sure to pull back the technology covers on prospective enterprise mobile application platforms to see that they really are built on cloud-based architectures. If every cloud has a silver lining, make sure it is solid silver and not just a bit of plating.


Sourced from Cathal McGloin, CEO, FeedHenry

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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