Posts Tagged ‘Worklight’

IBM Gets Serious About Mobile

February 28, 2013

Just last week IBM announced IBM MobileFirst, a multi-product initiative to pull together a comprehensive mobile computing platform.  There was nothing in the announcement specific to the zEnterprise, but IBM has been telegraphing System z involvement in mobile for over a year.

In November of last year DancingDinosaur wrote of the z and all other platforms going mobile. Over a year earlier, DancingDinosaur was writing about  using the z with smartphones. With SOA, Java, Linux, WebSphere, and Lotus running on the z and with data that mobile apps and users want residing on the machine, the zEnterprise should become over time a prime player in enterprise mobile business.

Doug Balog, general manager of IBM’s System z mainframe business, might have had MobileFirst in mind when he said in Computerworld that the next steps IBM is considering include making it easier for customers to run mobile and social networking applications on mainframes.  Such an approach would, for example, benefit banks that want to offer mobile apps but still want the power and resilience of a mainframe behind those apps.

The first mobile workload you see on the zEnterprise, however, will not be Foursquare or some other funky mobile app.  More likely, it will be an operational analytics app dissecting mobile banking transaction data or analyzing the behavior of anyone making purchases through their smartphone.

MobileFirst boasts what IBM describes as the broadest portfolio of mobile offerings covering platform, management, security, and analytics.  In terms of platform, for instance, it currently offers streamlined deployment for private clouds on the PureApplication System. It provides single sign-on across multiple apps on a device, and supports all four of the latest mobile operating systems (iOS, Android, Windows, and BlackBerry). It can handle native, web, or hybrid app development, promises easy connectivity to existing data and services for mobile usage, and can be deployed on premise or through managed service delivery.

In terms of management and security MobileFirst offers unified management across all devices, making it suitable for BYOD. Similarly, it can secure sensitive data regardless of the device, including the option to remotely wipe corporate data. It also supports DOD-grade encryption and FIPS 140-2 compliance and will grant or deny email access based on device compliance.  It also provides context-aware risk-based access control through IBM Worklight. More security is delivered through IBM Security Access Manager for Mobile and Cloud and IBM AppScan.

As for analytics, MobileFirst will automatically detect customer issues through user and mobile device data. It offers user behavior drill down through high fidelity replay and reporting to analyze the user experience. Finally, it correlates customer behavior with network and application data to determine conversion and retention rates and quantify business impact. It also can capture all activity on a device and link it to backend resources. Recently acquired Tealeaf will play a key role for user analytics and behavior.

As you would expect, in addition to acquisitions IBM is rapidly assembling an ecosystem of mobile players, carriers, and ISVs to build out a complete MobileFirst offering starting with players like AT&T, IBM as a surprising Apple VAR (US only), working with Nokia Siemens Networks to develop the IBM WebSphere Application Service Platform for Networks to run IT apps at the mobile network edge, and a slew of resources for developers. There even is an IBM Academic Initiative for Mobile patterned after the System z Academic Initiative to increase the availability of skilled mobile developers. IBM also is jump starting Mobile First with about 200 of its own applications; mainly old favorites like Cognos and its key middleware.

But MobileFirst isn’t IBM’s only initiative with a mobile component. IBM Connections has had a mobile component since August 2011. Similarly, Lotus Notes Traveler supports Notes mobile users on all the major smartphones through IBM Lotus Domino or Lotus Domino Express deployments, and in the IBM cloud with IBM SmartCloud Notes.  Although they weren’t specifically called out in the MobileFirst briefing IBM assures DancingDinosaur they are included as part of the initiative’s application layer.

From the standpoint of a zEnterprise data center or any enterprise-class data center MobileFirst shouldn’t present a problem. Yes, it will increase the number and frequency of users accessing data handled through the data center and the number of devices they are using. And you’ll be running more data analytics more often. But IBM clearly has put effort into thinking through the critical security challenges of mobile and is providing a broad set of tools to begin addressing them. Sure, there is no RACF for mobile, at least not yet, but if it is needed you can bet there will be.

System z and all IBM Platforms Go Mobile

November 5, 2012

IBM has declared mobile  a strategic initiative. As a result it is making its Mobile Development Lifecycle Solution v4.0 available on each of its platforms, from A (AIX) to Z (z/OS) and everything in-between, including non-IBM platforms like HP, Mac, and Oracle (Sun/Solaris)

The Mobile Development Lifecycle product enables collaborative, mobile lifecycle management capabilities integrated with an enterprise, standards-based, mobile application platform based on IBM Worklight for effective team development of mobile applications. As mobile transaction activity continues to grow worldwide—by the end of this year mobile transactions will have increased 50%—developing for mobile usage becomes an increasingly important consideration for organizations. Companies need to move beyond the initial one-off mobile projects that started them down the mobile path. Going forward they require a strategic approach that encompasses more than mobile device application coding and testing, just two aspects of the overall mobile app dev lifecycle.

Now the challenge is to ensure mobile apps are delivered on-time, with high quality, and meet business objectives. For this organizations need an approach that goes beyond the device SDKs. They need a comprehensive, team-based mobile app dev approach that provides not just a runtime infrastructure for deploying and running mobile applications for myriad devices but also an infrastructure to support rapid change, development, and delivery of quickly evolving mobile applications for business-critical data and transactions.

The z can play a particularly central role in an organization’s mobile initiative, especially as the volume of mobile transactions increase. Already the z is a leading platform for secure data serving and, according to IBM, the only commercial server to achieve the Common Criteria Evaluation Assurance Level 5+ security classification, providing the confidence to run many different applications containing confidential data on the mainframe. And the mainframe is where much of the data users want to access from their mobile devices will reside.

In particular, the new zEC12 builds on this with innovative security and privacy features to help protect data .Specifically, the zEC12 includes a state-of-the-art, tamper-resistant cryptographic co-processor, the Crypto Express4S, which provides privacy for transactions and sensitive data. It also incorporates transactional memory technology that IBM adapted to better support concurrent operations among a shared set of data, such as financial institutions processing transactions against the same set of accounts.

Making this all the more important is the anticipated growth of mobile transactions. According to Juniper Research, the value of remote transactions conducted via mobile devices is expected to exceed $730 billion annually by 2017. While Juniper sees major brands and retailers driving mobile transaction activity, IBM sees other types of transactions, such as flight check-in, client loyalty programs, employee self-service, the signing of legal documents, and other kinds of transactions that will drive the demand for mobile transaction security. Transactions, mobile and otherwise, are where the z excels.

IBM has pulled together a diverse set of capabilities to support the entire mobile lifecycle. The main pieces include IBM Worklight, IBM Endpoint Manager for Mobile Devices, and IBM WebSphere Cast Iron (Hypervisor edition). It is supplementing the core with tools like Tealeaf CXMobile, support for mobile app testing, support for mobile agile methodologies, and more.

Worldwide smartphone sales grew by 47% last year to 147 million units during the final quarter of 2011, according to Gartner. IDC estimates global downloads of mobile apps will reach 76.9 billion by 2014. It’s apparent the mobile wave is not diminishing anytime soon.

Enterprise data centers should expect to support an increasing amount of mobile traffic from new and different devices. This will present, at the least, significant new security and capacity challenges.  The z, and especially the zEC12with its recently updated software, previously covered by DancingDinosaur here, and enhancements like the Crypto Express4S, should be able to handle the challenges in stride, maybe with nothing more than some rethinking of MIPS consumption and assist processor usage.


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