The case for mobile optimized middleware

The fragmentation concern that started at the mobile platform level is only increasing. and will only get more complex unless you do something about it.
Written by Gopal Swamy, Modo Labs, Contributor
Commentary - With the mass proliferation of smartphones and tablets has come a responsive increase in the number of complex, data and content rich mobile applications. This has produced fragmentation beyond the form factor, operating system, and platform levels. It has created fragmentation at the data source, mobile application, and process levels. The growing, complex, many-to-many relationship between the various data sources an organization manages and the mobile applications it creates negatively impact the processes and people within organizations undergoing mobilization. Addressing this deep fragmentation requires a new breed of technology – Mobile Optimized Middleware.

Organizations have complex data needs and select the software and vendors that best address their requirements. A given organization contains enterprise applications; point solutions, niche web-based applications, legacy systems, cloud based solutions, and more. Some of these systems were developed as temporary workarounds but never went away because they continued to get the job done. Mobile device adoption has forced mobilization of all these data sources. Customers, partners, and employees are demanding access to a broad set of information while mobile to support their personal and work activities. Unfortunately, because many mobile applications draw data from only one data source, users are often forced to complete many of their activities using multiple mobile apps or desktop apps.

Developers have risen to the challenge and developed native, hybrid, and mobile web apps that present data in a mobile accessible way by integrating with individual APIs. Some have tried developing an enterprise service bus to give mobile apps access to data sources. Similarly, vendors have innovated and developed mobile extensions of their software products. Unfortunately, because developers lack a flexible, mobile-optimized way to provide mobile apps with access to multiple data sources and maintain the connections over time, and vendors have mobilized only their own solutions, mobile apps remain stove-piped, expensive to maintain, and provide only fractured process-level support.

Solving this extended fragmentation requires addressing it at its root. The concept of middleware has been around for years. However, Mobile Optimized Middleware (MOM) providers have extended it to mobile. Through MOM, data in multiple source systems is funneled and made available to mobile apps from a single integration point allowing developers to connect to it easily. Open source MOM vendors simplify the process and improve transparency by using open standards and common languages – like PHP and others. In doing so, the downstream issue of fragmented process-level support is also addressed. Because mobile applications can now access many data sources through a common API, the breadth and depth of data they provide to the user is increased. This results in more powerful – and potentially fewer – mobile apps that a user requires in order to complete his or her processes.

The fragmentation concern that started at the mobile platform level is only increasing. As new technology is introduced, this problem will only become more complex. Organizations must address this issue in a way that recognizes its root cause but still accounts for the immaturity of this market. CIOs, Enterprise Architects, Mobile Developers, and business owners must all look for open, flexible, mobile middleware solutions that address the current and future needs of this changing landscape. Only then can fragmentation be managed across the entire mobile value chain.

Gopal Swamy is the vice president of Business Development at Modo Labs. He is responsible for building the ecosystem of reseller and services partners and helping shape company marketing and PR efforts for the Kurogo Mobile Platform.

Editorial standards