Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS) lifts three key burdens of server-side integration – complexity, security and deployment.

by / Tuesday, 07 January 2014 / Published in Blog
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Under the hood of an enterprise-grade MBaaS, which forms part of a Mobile Application Platform, lies a wealth of functionality that is ripe for CIOs to seize for their mobility initiatives. It’s no surprise that consumerization of IT is pushing mobility to the top of the CIO agenda but unlike gaming and many other consumer apps, enterprises aim to develop business productivity or revenue-generating apps where backend integration is a real issue. However, as pointed out by a recent blogpost from Apigee “a mobile developer’s skills typically don’t overlap those required for building and maintaining server-side infrastructure”. With developers needing to churn out apps at increasing speed and with tip-top user experience, the pressure is on to alleviate the headache of secure connectivity to enterprise backend systems and maintenance of server-side infrastructure.

Several recent surveys highlight the angst that CIOs have over both security and cost issues as they relate to these projects. Our own survey, conducted in the UK by Vanson Bourne revealed these to be still the top concerns amongst industry IT executives. No surprise! Organizations operate with a plethora of different backend or business systems at varying stages of their lifecycle, many of which are highly proprietary and don’t lend themselves to mobilization. The sunk investment in these systems combined with their ability to effectively manage core business processes means that it may be a long time before they may be modernized, phased out or replaced.

There are three main burdens that enterprise app developers face in unleashing backend functionality in a simple, secure and scalable way and where MBaaS plays a critical role:

Takeaway 1: Dial down Complexity

MBaaS enables full access to cloud services such as storage, security, caching and business logic that are indispensible to developing enterprise-class mobile experiences. Back-end server-side complexity shifts to the cloud, enabling a more modularized technology stack as well as more efficient data-level management and scaling capabilities.

The complexity involved in integrating different systems with different protocols is the nemesis of simple, high-performing mobile design.  MBaaS excels at integrating disparate legacy systems by acting as a hub between mobile clients and these systems they need to access. By easily creating reusable Node.js-based services in the MBaaS, which you can share across all of your apps, you can mobile-enable your organization.

Takeaway 2: Security, security, security

With information security a key priority, MBaaS offers secure connectivity to backend systems.  Data is transmitted over a secure channel to the cloud, which sends it on to the business applications.  By providing a single point of entry into the enterprise, this approach is inherently more secure than exposing the interface of each individual application. This also facilitates the use of VPNs from the MBaaS to your systems. You can optionally make use of MDM for application containerisation on-device.

For industries like Finance, Healthcare, Government and Transportation where regulatory requirements are strictly enforced, the need for security management across the whole pipe, from device to backend data points, potentially avoids the high cost of a data breach. With the average cost of such a breach to US companies calculated at $5.4 million in 2012, compliance cannot be underestimated (Annual study conducted by Ponemon Institute and Symantec)

Takeaway 3: Flexibility of Deployment

All deployments are not created equal so whether server-side code is deployed to a private, public, or hybrid cloud or deployed fully on-premise, it’s important to maintain flexibility and portability. Enterprise-grade MBaaS serves to simplify the configuration, deployment and maintenance of server-side code deployment, freeing the developer to focus on front-end user experience. Enterprises cannot afford to be locked-in to a particular deployment model but need to be able to respond and adapt as needs evolve. The new breed of enterprise MBaaS have been created to address this need to respond quickly and flexibly.

For organizations elevating their mobile initiatives to a more strategic level, the potential for an enterprise-grade MBaaS to reduce development time, cost and time to market for their mobile app rollouts shouldn’t be ignored. Mobile Application Platforms like FeedHenry, that have been developed to simplify enterprise mobility have emerged in recent years and include MBaaS functionality as well as app development, deployment and management features, offering enterprise a complete platform solution. Yankee Group in their latest Mobility Predictions 2014 report, make specific reference to MBaaS as a recent but vibrant market with winners including FeedHenry, AnyPresence and Kidozen.

Additional Resources from FeedHenry

Interested in reading more about MBaaS for enterprise? Take a look at some additional resources:

451 Research Report:  FeedHenry Mobile App Platform highlights mobile-first credentials

Forrester Webinar On-Demand: The New Mobile Imperative – How Mobile is Transforming Business Application Architecture

To read more about MBaaS and the FeedHenry offering download this 451 Research report

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