While it is true that cloud computing and mobile computing are the top two priority areas for CIOs, as per a recent research conducted by Gartner, the combination of mobile and cloud computing is opening up endless possibilities for all kinds of innovation in enterprise mobility. IDC has indicated that by 2014, 80% of new enterprise software will be cloud-based. Given the popularity of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), mobile cloud applications seem to be the de-facto standard for future.
So what is so special about mobile cloud computing?
Mobile applications can be developed either as native applications or cloud-based applications. The advantage of native applications is that developers can exploit the benefits of a specific mobile device and leverage the benefits of device-specific hardware and software. While this results in a more efficient application, it also calls for re-writing the same application to support various platforms, leading to issues in scalability, maintenance and security.
A cloud-based mobile application is a mobile application that is hosted on a cloud-based server. The advantages are that these applications can be designed and developed with generic cross-platform features and need to be developed only once. The benefits of this approach are many and include the enhancement of storage and computing facilities when hosting on the cloud. Also, security and other management features are taken care of without any additional overheads.
Typical technologies for building such applications are HTML5 and Mobile Enterprise Application Platforms (MEAPs). HTML5 has the unique feature of discovering remote device characteristics such as resolution and display orientation. As a result, the generic application can be rendered with a look and feel that is closer to the native application.
MEAPs are mobile platforms that form the in-between glue between the device and the cloud-based application. It is a platform that is hosted on the cloud and has features that specifically allow for application data to be correctly presented in mobile device viewports. WebMobi and Appcelerator Titanium are some of the currently popular MEAPs.
Social networking applications that require a huge bandwidth of server side computing and storage, and relatively simpler user interfaces form one of the perfect candidates for mobile cloud applications. Given the popularity of social media in today’s day and age, the marriage of cloud and mobile computing promises to be an everlasting one.