The shift from client-server to cloud-mobile is driving many of the modernization efforts behind today’s digital transformations initiatives. Together, cloud and mobile support the agility, performance and scalability required by modern enterprise mobile applications. Companies that do not invest in mobile risk falling behind their competitors, potentially hindering the growth of their business over the long term. Mobile enables greater employee productivity and can increase employee satisfaction when implemented correctly. It is also a leading force shaping the future of enterprise IT. Industry analyst firm Gartner predicts that “by 2022, 70 percent of software interactions in enterprises will occur on mobile devices.” The cloud promises cost savings, by limiting capital investment in physical infrastructure in favor of usage-based costs, but the cloud also offers resource elasticity that benefits on-demand scaling that is often required by mobile apps. Considering the impact of mobile, it is no surprise that companies are looking to the cloud for support.
As organizations mature in both their cloud and mobile strategies, the underlying infrastructure plays an important role. Why do the cloud and mobile make a perfect pairing?
- Ability to manage the data overload
The cloud is a natural fit for storing and managing the data that flows between back-end systems and services and the mobile device. With businesses maturing in their adoption of mobile, apps that run on mobile devices are both generating and consuming more data – more than can be stored locally. Add to this the fact that mobile business apps can interchange sensitive data that cannot reside on the device for security reasons, and the need for a cloud-based layer that manages services between device and back-end systems becomes clear. From a mobile device, information can be transmitted via the cloud without the need to connect directly to back-end data sources, which can compromise security and cause resource overload on those systems.
- Ability to scale on-demand
Mobile apps, especially business-to-consumer apps, may need to scale quickly when inundated with a large and sometimes unpredictable volume of users. This places demands on the flexibility and responsiveness of the underlying infrastructure. The elasticity of the cloud offers greater and more immediate scalability for mobile apps than physical hardware. When preparing for long term mobile success and growth, companies should turn to the cloud to support the growth and performance of their mobile projects.
- Extensibility and future proofing
Many companies still rely on legacy systems, which were not designed with mobile in mind. This should not stop them from going mobile and missing out on mobile’s benefits. Also, the combination of mobile capabilities with data from these legacy systems can often uncover additional business value. Cloud-based mobile backend services can store data, manage the business logic, and via RESTful APIs, enable apps to more easily consume this data without impacting the legacy system. It also enables mobile apps to access other cloud services through APIs, rather than forcing the developer to write code directly to the cloud service. Further, it provides greater flexibility for future updates as these can be pushed from the cloud to the app on the device.
- Accelerating mobile app development
The key to developing a mobile app is making sure it has access to the appropriate storage, security features, caching and business logic, all of which can be provided as back-end services. By shifting these back-end needs to the cloud, and making them discoverable and available to enterprise mobile developers, organizations can bring apps to market faster. Mobile developers may find that using cloud-based back-end services can add a greater degree of agility, reusability and control for mobile app development projects. This can lead to faster mobile app development, especially when multiple mobile apps are being created where the app developers can reuse some of the same mobile back-end services and APIs across many app projects.
- The growth of Platform-as-a-Service
Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offers a cloud infrastructure environment and resources that can make it easier to develop, run and manage apps. App development and delivery is benefited by integrating DevOps tools and processes, container technology, and lightweight architectures on a platform that can be deployed in cloud or on-premise environments. Containers are valuable to mobile app development, as they help bring mobile into mainstream enterprise application development, enabling mobile apps to run alongside other enterprise apps but taking advantage of a common platform and resources without restricting the individual application runtime environments. Platform technology can bring a new level of consistency, efficiency, and portability, not only to mobile app development, but to other enterprise application workloads.
There are many advantages to pairing mobile and cloud. The two technologies are instrumental to digital business transformation, creating benefits for application developers and enabling increased business value. Companies that do not take advantage of how cloud and mobile technologies complement and support each other risk falling behind their competitors.