In my last ‘Consumerization of IT Collides with MEAP’ article, I described how to connect iPhones and iPads to Microsoft’s Cloud servers in Azure. In this week’s scenario, I’ll use the picture below to illustrate how Android devices can utilize many of Gartner’s Critical Capabilities to connect to Microsoft’s On-Premise infrastructure:

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As you can see from the picture above:

  1. For the Management Tools Critical Capability, Android uses Microsoft Exchange for On-Premise policy enforcement via Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) but has no private software distribution equivalent to System Center Configuration Manager 2007 from Microsoft today. Instead, in-house apps are hosted and APKs distributed via a web server over wireless by having a user click on a URL or through a variety of app stores. In the future, System Center Configuration Manager 2012 will be able to better manage Android devices.
  2. For both the Client and Server Integrated Development Environment (IDE) and Multichannel Tool Critical Capability, Android uses Visual Studio. While the Server/EAI development functionality is the same as every other platform, endpoint development will consist of HTML5, ECMAScript 5, and CSS3 delivered by ASP.NET. WCF REST + JSON Web services can also be created and consumed via Ajax calls from the browser.
  3. For the cross-platform Application Client Runtime Critical Capability, we will rely on Android’s WebKit browser to provide HTML5 + CSS3 + ECMAScript5 capabilities. Offline storage is important to keep potentially disconnected Android working and this is facilitated by Web Storage which is accessible via JavaScript.
  4. For the Security Critical Capability, Android 3.0 and higher provides hardware encryption based on the user’s device passcode for data-at-rest. Data-in-transit is secured via SSL and VPN. LDAP API support allows it to access corporate directory services.
  5. For the Enterprise Application Integration Tools Critical Capability, Android can reach out to servers directly via Web Services or indirectly via SQL Server (JDBC) or BizTalk using SSIS/Adapters to connect to other enterprise packages.
  6. The Multichannel Server Critical Capability to support any open protocol directly, via Reverse Proxy, or VPN is facilitated by ISA/TMG/UAG/IIS. Cross-Platform wire protocols riding on top of HTTP are exposed by Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) and include SOAP, REST and Atompub. Cross-Platform data serialization is also provided by WCF including XML, JSON, and OData. These Multichannel capabilities support thick clients making web service calls as well as thin web clients making Ajax calls. Distributed caching to dramatically boost the performance of any client is provided by Windows Server AppFabric Caching.
  7. While the Hosting Critical Capability may not be as relevant in an on-premises scenario, Windows Azure Connect provides an IPSec-protected connection to the Cloud and SQL Azure Data Sync can be used to move data between SQL Server and SQL Azure.
  8. For the Packaged Mobile Apps or Components Critical Capability, Android runs cross-platform mobile apps including SkypeBing, MSNTag, Hotmail, and of course the critical ActiveSync component that makes push emails, contacts, calendars, and device management policies possible.

Newer versions of Android (3.x/4.0) are beginning to meet more of Gartner’s Critical Capabilities. It’s really improved in the last year in areas of encryption, but device fragmentation makes this improvement uneven.  The app story is still the ‘Wild West’ since the Android Market is an un-vetted free-for-all. This big ‘red flag’ has given rise to curated app stores like the one from Amazon.  As you can see from the picture, the big gap is with the client application runtime critical capability. Native development via Java/Eclipse is where Google wants to steer you and Microsoft doesn’t make native tools, runtimes or languages for this platform. You can definitely perform your own due diligence on Mono for Android from our friend Miguel de Icaza and his colleagues in order to reuse your existing .NET and C# skills. From a Microsoft perspective though, you’re definitely looking at HTML5 delivered via ASP.NET.

Next week, I’ll cover how Android connects to the Cloud.

Best Regards,

Rob

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