Enterprise Mobile Apps: It’s All About the Infrastructure

Published on: December 16, 2014

Whenever there is a new hot technology, another “paradigm shift,” or a different delivery vehicle, there is a recurring pattern: development teams jump ahead and build whatever they can to meet demand, which is followed by an effort from IT to reign things in, and then followed by a standardized approach supported by infrastructure. This pattern has given us the app server, the web server, and service-oriented architectures (SOAs) to name a few.

And now the same evolution is occurring in the mobile app arena. In the rush to help development teams get to market quickly, there has been a proliferation of front-end development tools, and IT – especially with enterprise apps – has become acutely aware of the security risks involved with deploying these apps. As the technology offerings shake out, IT is defining which pieces of the puzzle they need to own, which pieces development teams should own, and what infrastructure components need to be in place to support a secure and efficient development environment.

The first step in giving IT the control over mobile app security is to decouple the front-end from the back-end. This allows development teams to focus on the user interface and the user experience, and IT to manage and control system connectivity, data access management, authentication and authorization. In this way the two groups – who have very different objectives – can work independently and productively. Development teams can choose the dev tools and processes that maximize their efficiency and reduce time to market.  IT can govern the systems the way they see fit, and provide reusable mobile services. The lynchpin that makes this work is having the right infrastructure.

In the same way that the web server became the infrastructure component behind web apps, the mobile app server is becoming the new infrastructure component for building enterprise mobile apps. Its job is to centralize all the back-end plumbing and give IT visibility and control. This gets development teams out of the business of reinventing security policies so they can channel all their energy towards the user experience.

As approaches to building and deploying enterprise mobile apps come into focus, the mobile app server is emerging as the must-have infrastructure component.

In my next post, I take a closer look at mobile app servers.

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