Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Mobile Middleware for Instant Value or Mobile Micro-Apps

Mobile middleware is more than synchronizing databases and providing basic application integration. It needs to include support for business process extensions, and it must provide a set of features and functions that support lightweight, "Instant Value" or "Mobile Micro-Apps" smartphone applications.

There are many features and functions that are needed by mobile workers that are not easily supported by smartphone operating systems like iPhone or BlackBerry. Often the data set is large and the software application is an ERP.  The mobile user does not need access to the full ERP or the full data set, just a subset.  In these cases it would be useful to have a mobile middleware layer that recognizes the needs of the mobile user and provides an optimized mobile application with functionality that supports either browser based or mobile micro-apps.

It seems there is a need for a new middleware layer that is designed to support a wide range of requirements to address the limitations of lightweight and browser based smartphone apps.

Within the SAP ecosystem I am hearing a lot about this concept from the likes of  Vivido Labs  and Leapfactor.

Leapfactor says their mobile middleware layer forwards and broadcasts staged digital content collected at a location and delivers it to any designated consignees, on any smartphone, and always with high availability based on a secure and scalable platform.  They state that their solution relies on four fundamental technologies: 
  1. LeapApps -  mobile micro apps for smartphones
  2. LeapShell - an SDK that accelerates development and portability to any mobile OS
  3. Leap Central - a secure cloud-based service-processing component
  4. LeapAgent - securely connects and authenticates LeapCentral with an enterprise
I spent a lot of time working on mobility projects that utilized Sybases' SUP (mobile middleware).  The mobile applications were "thick" clients with mobile databases on smartphones to hold data and synchronize data with the back office database application.  Our mobile applications often had complex business processes and business rules built into the mobile applications to ensure field work was done correctly.  These rules were stored in the mobile database in the thick client.
Where are all of these business rules and business processes stored for "Instant Value" and "mobile micro-apps" for smartphones?  Do these lightweight mobile applications simply ignore business rules and business processes, or is this functionality provided in a smartphone middleware layer in the cloud?  These are the things I ponder on a Wednesday morning.
Do you see a need for a mobile middleware layer that is specifically designed to support business rules and business processes for mobile micro-apps?
Kevin Benedict, CEO Netcentric Strategies LLC
SAP Mentor, SAP Top Contributor, Mobile Industry Analyst
***Full Disclosure: I am an independent mobility consultant and Web 2.0 marketing expert. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles. ***************************************************