CIOs are asking for help in confronting the tidal wave of mobile devices entering the enterprise. IT departments have raised the white flag as attempts to block consumer-focused smartphones and tablets have failed. The Consumerization of IT has been a growing trend fueled by cloud-delivered services and compelling mobile devices with wireless capabilities. This trend snowballs more and more each year, meaning it’s time to embrace it rather than put your head in the sand. Microsoft MEAP is the answer. I’ve been talking to you about how Microsoft aligns with Gartner’s Mobile Enterprise Application Platform (MEAP) for years now, and I wanted to update you on how we’ve evolved with respect to Gartner’s Critical Capabilities. As a refresher, MEAP is Software + Services that allow IT orgs to extend corporate apps to mobile employees and business partners. This platform must support:
- Multiple mobile applications
- Multiple mobile operating systems
- Multiple backend systems maximizing ROI vs. tactical solutions
It’s already a $1 Billion business and 95% of orgs will choose MEAP over point solutions by 2012. The picture below represents some of our familiar cloud and on-premise servers on top and a wide spectrum of mobile devices from Microsoft and other manufacturers on the bottom:
Let’s do a quick rundown of Gartner’s Critical Capability list so you can see how we rise to their challenge:
- Integrated Development Environment for composing server and client-side logic: Microsoft Visual Studio supports on-premise and cloud server development and targets clients such as Windows, Windows Phone 7, Windows Mobile, the Web, Nokia S60, and the Macintosh.
- Application Client Runtime: Various flavors of Microsoft .NET (Silverlight, .NET, Compact Framework) run on Azure, Windows Server, Windows, the Mac, Windows Phone 7, Windows Mobile, and Nokia S60. Guess what, you can use MonoTouch to take your .NET skills to the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. MonoDroid is in the preview stage and will bring .NET to Android phones and tablets in the future.
- Enterprise Application Integration Tools: Connecting mobile devices to a variety of backend packages like Dynamics or SAP is critical. Microsoft supports this integration in the cloud via Windows Azure AppFabric and on-premise though SQL Server Integration Services and dozens of adapters. Tools like our Business Intelligence Dev Studio make EAI a repeatable, drag and drop exercise.
- Packaged Mobile Apps: Microsoft delivers the Office suite across Windows, Windows Phone 7, Windows Mobile, the Web and the Mac. Office will be coming to Nokia in the future and One Note just arrived on iOS.
- Multichannel Servers: Windows Server + SQL Server on-premise and Windows Azure + SQL Azure in the cloud represents Microsoft’s mobile middleware platforms. Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) delivers cross-platform SOAP & REST Web Services and cross-platform wire protocols like XML, JSON and OData.
- Software Distribution: Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager supports pushing software out to Windows and Windows Mobile. Windows Phone 7 has Marketplace for this function.
- Security: Data-in-transit is secured by SSL across all platforms. Data-at-Rest security for apps is facilitated on Windows by BitLocker, Windows Mobile through encryption policies and Windows Phone 7 through AESManaged in Silverlight. Cross-platform auth is facilitated by Microsoft Windows Identity Foundation so devices can access resources via a Windows Live ID, Facebook, Google, Yahoo, ADFS and others.
- Hosting: It goes without saying the Microsoft knocks the hosting requirement out of the park with Azure.
So what do I want you to take away from all this?
Microsoft has a great MEAP stack comprised of servers and skillsets you probably already have at your company. You get maximum reuse on our servers and in our cloud which means you save money when it’s time to build and deploy your second, third and fourth mobile app without new training, new servers, and different technologies each time. I hope you’re pleasantly surprised to see that our .NET application runtime lives on so many mobile platforms. Again, this means that your existing .NET skills can be reused on Microsoft devices, the Web, Mac, Nokia and even the iPad. Who knew? I’m looking forward to bring Android into the .NET camp as well.
It’s a brave new world of disparate devices connected to the cloud. Companies have no choice but to target most all of them when constructing B2C apps to sell products or bring in new customers. They’ve also found that this is the case in supporting their own employees and business partners with B2E and B2B apps. No single company has so many different skillsets and competencies to pull this off.
There is one thing that most companies do have though. A Microsoft infrastructure in their data center or the cloud, Windows on desktops, laptops and tablets, plus teams of .NET developers. As I’ve just shown you, these .NET developers armed with Visual Studio or MonoTouch can be unleashed to allow you to reach almost every mobile platform. This dramatically reduces the amount of extra Java and Eclipse skills that you’ll consider bringing in-house or outsourcing in order to target platforms like Android or the Blackberry. Through the magic of WCF, all these platforms can connect to your critical Microsoft back-end resources and beyond. You save money on training, use the servers you already have, resuse business logic and get to market faster. No matter what platform you need to target, Microsoft and its partners want to help you reach your goals.
Looks like you’re already ahead of the game in taking on the Consumerization of IT.